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Christine Falls (Quirke #1)

3.44 of 5 stars 3.44  ·  rating details  ·  5,850 ratings  ·  834 reviews
In the debut crime novel from the Booker-winning author, a Dublin pathologist follows the corpse of a mysterious woman into the heart of
a conspiracy among the city's high Catholic society

It's not the dead that seem strange to Quirke. It's the living. One night, after a few drinks at an office party, Quirke shuffles down into the morgue where he works and finds his brothe
Hardcover, 340 pages
Published 2006 by Henry Holt and Co.
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Community Reviews

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Ian Heidin[+]Fisch
The End Justifies the Mean

I originally bought this as a remainder and left it unread for several years, suspecting it might be a vain or indulgent experiment in crime genre fiction by one of my favourite authors, John Banville.

Instead, it’s a masterful and easy to read pathological, if not necessarily surgical, dissection of family, social and religious issues in 1950’s Irish Catholic Dublin and Boston. Banville subtly utilises all of his literary skills to conjure a convincing irreverent, if no
Having read two of the later Quirke books, I thought it might be a good idea to try the first in the series. I had thought initially that John Banville was simply amusing himself creating wry stories about a quirky pathologist and his police inspector side-kick as they tracked down the perpetrators of various crimes in 1950s Dublin. I now realise that Banville intends more than amusement, for himself as well as for his readers. There’s an underlying theme running through all of these books; the ...more
Stephanie Griffin
Feb 15, 2008 Stephanie Griffin rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no-one!
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
A joke from the 1970s : A stranger walks into a Belfast pub and orders a beer. The man next to him at the bar eyes him suspiciously for a few minutes, then leans over and says "what religion are you, then?". "I'm atheist.". "We're all atheist, but are you Catholic atheist or Protestant atheist?"

Mr. Quirke, consulting pathologist, is a Catholic atheist. He spent his early years in an orphanage until he was adopted by Judge Griffin, then a barrister. Griffin had a son, Malachy, but gave all his at
I sort of enjoyed this book as I was reading it, but when I got to the end I felt let down. Not well written, and sort of boring, this book could have and should have been better. The descriptions of the protagonist as a bear-like man were totally overdone -- I think the words "lumbering", "big," "massive" etc. appeared every time he did. Tiresome.
Filled with atmosphere, but not much else, opening Christine Falls evokes the kind of dark noir atmosphere of the early fifties, step into the book and you step back into smoky drawing rooms and corner bars, squat henchmen, sleek cars, and swirling gowns wrapping around the legs of elegant woman. Black (Banville) is expert at creating this sultry mood. I don’t read mysteries often, but when I do, it’s because I want to sink into a book where the many leads spin tighter and tighter, strands that ...more
If you like mysteries with hard drinking Irish pathologists in 1950’s Dublin & crazy Catholics this is the book for you
Black, Benjamin. CHRISTINE FALLS. (2006). ****. This is the first of Black’s (pseudonym of John Banville) series of mysteries featuring Quirke, a pathologist in Ireland. I seriously recommend that you start off with this first installment, and not read a subsequent one before it. There is a lot of background into Quirke’s personal life provided here that is ofter referred to in the later novels. The title is the name of a young woman who died of post-partum hemorraghing, but whose death certific ...more
Apr 28, 2008 Aaron rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who really love Law and Order
Recommended to Aaron by:
So if The Night Gardener manages to be sort of like The Wire, only not as good, Christine Falls manages to be sort of like Murder She Wrote. Only not as good. And maybe a little darker.

Cars ooze up the road. Tulips are the flesh of dead men. The rise of moon is full of grim portent. All stares are baleful. Even the most minor characters insist on visually apprehending the world in a way that is grimly portentous and darkly baleful.

This is a paraphrase, but I remember the archetypal sentence of
Izetta Autumn
This is a hard book for me to rate. Christine Falls, written by Benjamin Black (Booker Prize-winning author of The Sea, John Banville in psuedonym), is marketed as a mystery-thriller - a more erudite Da Vinci code. In truth, it's much closer to the noir genre - ultimately acting as a character novel, built on a mystery, and surrounded by deathly overtones. It's Banville, so of course the writing is strong - elegant, descriptive, and engaging. The character development is the central trope of the ...more
What I learned from this book? Don't insert "poetic", unlikely thoughts into the minds of my characters. Just as an example, do not write a rape scene in which the rapist, mid-thrust, looks up at the view of the ocean (he and his victim are in the back seat of a car parked by the beach), whose crashing waves are so dark and powerful or whatever that the sight of them makes him come. BECAUSE NO. This generally enjoyable and readable mystery was made considerably less enjoyable and readable by tha ...more
Christine Falls by Benjamin Black (aka John Banville) is a mystery story involving babies, unwed mothers, and relationships. I read it because a) I love mysteries; b) I love Banville's writing; and, c) I was curious as to how someone who writes fiction in which there's really minimal plot would fare as a mystery writer. I discovered a) it was only ok as a mystery-but ok enough for me to start another one; b) I love his writing as Black; and c) see "a)" (but seriously, I was fascinated by the cha ...more
I ate up this novel in a day. It's crime noir, set in 1950's Dublin and Boston and deals with a baby smuggling ring endorsed by the church and supported by Irish aristocracy and Boston Brahmins. The protagonist is a coroner, an alcoholic anti-hero bruised and battered by his past and lonely present. The novel was unputdownable and I can't wait to read the next in the "Quirke" series, but I'll have to: it just came out in hardcover so I can't afford it and the wait list at the library is over 100 ...more
Bill  Kerwin

This, the first in the series of detective novels written pseudonymously by the Irish novelist John Banville, is set in 1950's Dublin and features the melancholy, mediocre pathologist Quirke, who, though scarred by failure and a widower's grief, still possesses a spark of intellectual curiosity and a few glowing embers of compassion. When he discovers his brother-in-law, a prosperous physician, altering the death records of young Christine Falls, he begins an investigation that leads him through
Brent Legault
Though Banville uses a different name on this novel, his voice is more or less the same as it always is. And it's his voice that saves it from itself, from the muck and suck of the deadbeat plot.

I was led to believe this was a mystery novel. I don't know why. Maybe I led myself to believe that. Maybe it was some review I read or thought I read. But Christine Falls is not a mystery novel. It is a mysterious novel. Nothing wrong with that. Except that it also has many mystery elements to it. Whic
Lewis Weinstein
A terrific read. Black has constructed a series of inter-related plot lines which he reveals slowly and under total control. Many surprises. Many serious societal issues illuminated by his far from perfect fictional characters.
Do you remember that song 'This is the song that never ends...'

This was the book that never ends.
Hannah  Messler
During: It looks like I am reading slowly, which makes me feel self-conscious! so I must remark: I secretly was reading the new John Irving but was afraid to post it on here in case John Irving was monitoring for sneaks (some big fancy-pants authors DO that, I was not being paranoid) but then it was so stupid and bad and ridiculous that I had to put it down halfway through. Anyway I know it's dumb to be self-conscious about looking like I'm reading slowly, but I am NOT reading slowly is the only ...more
Sep 28, 2012 John rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to John by: Alisa
Benjamin Black is the pseudonym for Booker-prize winning author John Banville, and this novel reads very much like a practitioner of high literary fiction swapped his tweed blazer for a trench coat. And yet Banville does not seem able to match the concomitant gait and attitude of the trench-coat wearing type.

First, there's the dense, mellifluous prose, which was very enjoyable to read on the one hand, but as the action got underway it began to bog the story down. I'm all for delayed gratificati
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
An excellent book by a writer I only knew so far from the foreword from the first newly printed Parker series by Richard Stark. I have as of yet not seen the TV show made of this book and its sequels.

The book does paint a dark and desperate mood in Ireland of the '50's, the main characters are not any ray of sunshine and the whole mood smells of alcohol and desperation. The main character is a nosy character who in his actions is willing to hurt anybody. He feels like a person who has lost it al
Not as much a who-done-it as a peel-back-the-layers mystery, set in Ireland and Boston. There's a mention (veiled) to the Magdalene Laundries, and morality in the 1950s in both countries. I liked that the "detective" was an insider and an outsider at the same time, and that his personal history was interwoven with the mystery, but that it wasn't banged over our heads (in other words, I guessed things that came out later, but didn't mind so much).

Interesting factoid for those that read "real" fic
This is a very strange book to review. On the one hand, I stayed up late and got up early to keep reading it, on the other hand, when it was over I felt like I had just read the mental equivalent of one of those buttery flavored rice cakes: it tastes pretty good and you forget it's basically made out of air but thirty minutes later you don't remember having eaten it and you're still hungry. And while I have nothing against what some people call "beach" reads (because I usually think in terms of ...more
Jessica Draper
No good guys in this story of a Catholic-sponsored baby-smuggling ring between Ireland and the US, no grasp of characters' motivations (at the beginning, the hero's been mourning his dead wife for years, but by the end we find out he feels not only ambivalent but hostile to her; he gave up his baby daughter to his sister in law when his wife died, so she's raised as his niece, but he seems unaccountably unaware of that at the start of the book and matter-of-fact about it at the end; even strange ...more
Stacy Bearse
CHRISTINE FALLS demonstrates that an engaging suspense novel can also be sophisticated literature. The plot swings between Dublin and Boston. I won't spoil the complex story for you, but will say that key elements include befuddled doctors, smuggled babies, devastating family secrets, and the Catholic church. The quality of writing is such that I found myself rereading entire passages just to enjoy the wordsmithing of author Benjamin Black. (Benjamin Black is a pen name for Irish author John Ban ...more
La Stamberga dei Lettori
Banville ha una scrittura piacevole e raffinata, e pertanto, anche se piuttosto lento, questo romanzo noir si lascia leggere volentieri.
Gli ambienti ed i paesaggi in cui si svolge l’azione, anche quando avviene in luoghi aperti, hanno un’atmosfera cupa e claustrofobica, e alcuni personaggi, dotati di poteri discrezionali al di sopra della legge e la cui moralità è discutibile, fanno venire in mente i protagonisti surreali e pazzoidi dei romanzi distopici di Ballard.
Gli eventi si dipanano intorno
Sep 22, 2014 Ms.pegasus rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of mysteries
Shelves: fiction, mystery
The crime would have gone undetected if Quirke hadn't stumbled back to his basement lair, and found his brother-in-law Malachy Griffin (Mal) hunched over his desk. This is a Dublin hospital morgue and Quirke is the chief pathologist. Mal is a distinguished obstetrician. What could he possibly be doing down there?

Black narrates in a third person voice from Quirke's viewpoint, but he adeptly pairs Quirke's own thoughts, muddled by inebriation, with the reader's natural hyper vigilance. Quirke reve
I enjoyed this book! The writing is well-done, the story is taut and gripping enough to keep the reader wanting to read more. The main character is sort of an anti-hero but still has an appeal. There were short scenes that were a little risque but it wasn't overdone. I would read another by this author.
The young woman of the title is already dead when we meet her, within the first few pages of the opening chapter. And it's clear early on she wasn't murdered. The initial mystery is why the protagonist's brother in law was falsifying Christine's cause of death--which Quirke, the protagonist, a pathologist working in the morgue of a Dublin hospital, caught him doing.

A very moody, evocative book, which has a great noir atmosphere and an unusual mystery at its heart. The book also has a number of t
Mal Warwick
Corruption and mayhem in Dublin and Boston

When a brilliant author turns his hand to genre fiction, the result is often disappointing at best. The writer’s motivation may have been simply to make a quick buck, and that inevitably shows. However, when every ounce of the writer’s talent is poured into the work, treating a mystery or a science fiction story as merely another mode of expression, the upshot can be startlingly good. That’s the case with Christine Falls, the first in a series of mystery
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The Quirke Discus...: Discussion Questions 1 8 Jul 09, 2013 09:46PM  
  • Borderlands (Inspector Devlin, #1)
  • The Guards (Jack Taylor, #1)
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  • The Chicago Way (Michael Kelly, #1)
  • The Burning (Maeve Kerrigan, #1)
  • The Wrong Kind of Blood (Ed Loy, #1)
  • The Ghosts of Belfast (Jack Lennon Investigations #1)
  • The Book of Evidence (The Freddie Montgomery Trilogy, #1)
  • The Calling (Hazel Micallef Mystery #1)
  • The Midnight Choir
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Pen name for John Banville

Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland. His father worked in a garage and died when Banville was in his early thirties; his mother was a housewife. He is the youngest of three siblings; his older brother Vincent is also a novelist and has written under the name Vincent Lawrence as well as his own. His sister Vonnie Banville-Evans has written both a children's novel and a r
More about Benjamin Black...
The Silver Swan (Quirke, #2) Elegy for April (Quirke, #3) A Death in Summer (Quirke, #4) The Black-Eyed Blonde: A Philip Marlowe Novel Vengeance (Quirke, #5)

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