Laura Leaney's Reviews > Christine Falls

Christine Falls by Benjamin Black
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's review
May 26, 2010

liked it
Read from July 10 to 12, 2011

Although the imagery makes for a dark chillingly damp atmosphere, this novel felt like a parody of the noir genre - but unfortunately I think it was meant to be the genuine thing. Initially, I got really caught up in the pathologist Quirke's investigation of the missing corpse of Christine Falls, especially as the woman seems to be connected to his incredibly strange brother-in-law Malachy; but then I began to tire of the clichéd characters (beak-nosed bad guys, gin drinking low class blondes, and big ankled ruddy knocked-up Irish women). This isn't to say I didn't like the book (I finished it in two days because I got hooked on the mystery), but the writing and the characters are disappointing. Even Quirke, the protagonist-"detective" is a stock figure: a bumbling, alcohol impaired, chain-smoking shambling giant of a man who can smell death everywhere.

Psychologically speaking, I wonder why all the women in here are so horribly predatory. Evil nuns (usually a favorite topic for me), bitchy wives, lascivious nurses, a teasing flirty daughter/niece. The bottom line is that every woman in here (besides the nuns, who have better evil work to do) will bang anything in sight. It really becomes quite tiresome.

Awful unsatisfying ending.

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Reading Progress

07/11/2011 page 89
26.0% "Super atmospheric. 1950s Dublin murder mystery by John Banville. I'm hooked - I'm wonder if I can get any work done today at all."
11/25/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-13 of 13) (13 new)

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message 1: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Emmett Quite enjoy your reviews. Gives me a vicarious fiction-fix :)

Laura Leaney Thank you so much, Patrick! Actually, I'm waiting to see how many stars you give the book on Islam in America (I forgot the title). I hope it's an enlightening read.

message 3: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Emmett Very Enlightening. I am teaching a class on Worl Religions in California, and doing site visits to various places of worship. We visited the local masjid (mosque) this past week, and much of what Smith claims about the reasonableness and altruism of Islam was corroborated.

Laura Leaney I studied Islam in college, but most of my understanding of the faith comes from knowing people who are practicing Muslim. Empirical evidence of this kind proves "reasonableness." But it's sure hard to argue with the opposition sometimes.

message 5: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne 3 stars seems generous, considering how disappointed you seem with the cliched characters and unsatisfying ending. If you want a noirish crime story that you'll enjoy a bit more, try Sharp Teeth! It'll make you feel better. (OK, after this note, I'll stop)

Laura Leaney I just got my copy yesterday, and am looking forward to it. I'm really enjoying "The Invisible Bridge" right now. It's wonderfully Parisian.

message 7: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne I saw that - The Invisible Bridge-- and noticed the overall rating. A 4.18 rating is very high, hardly ever see them with a 4+ overall. It must be good.

message 8: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Emmett Yes, xenophobia and nativism in general, as well as Islamophobia, warranted or unwarranted, as the case may be, have caused lots of tension in the American Muslim community. But Smith also points out that another result of 9/11 is too prompt some in the community to become more active and overt members, demonstrating what true Islam is about, which is a good thing.

message 9: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Emmett This is from my friend Julie. She read your review through my post and asked me to pass this on to you:

Hey Patrick - Ask your friend Laura to consider Black's intended audience. Sounds to me like men (single, possibly embittered men?). From Laura's description, all women are whores, except for the ones who are not sexually available, in which case they are diabolical. Pretty transparent stereotyping and mythologizing of women. I'd hate to be this guy's girlfriend. But anyway, ask her to consider it from the male sexual fantasy perspective. Stories like this that turn women's guts inside out can actually be pretty fascinating in this light..
For a lion's dose of what I'm referring to, try the film "Black Snake Moan." Nauseating for women, and leaves guys drooling. I think it's all pretty damned intriguing." Cheers:)

Laura Leaney Wow, this is marvellous. Such good commentary.

This particular book certainly seems to fulfill some kind of male fantasy perspective; your friend has a point. Yet if the author's intended audience is only male, that leaves a lot to be desired sales-wise, as women are a large book buying crowd. I'm thinking that there are many women who buy into the "stereotyping and mythologizing" that Julie notes. I wonder how many women enjoyed "Black Snake Moan"?

message 11: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne I'm not sure I should admit this, but when I saw "Black Snake Moan" a few years ago, I did enjoy it and I distinctly remember writing to a friend of mine, knowing how cheesy it was, “God help me, but I really liked it.” It had great entertainment value, and the feminist in me didn’t think to be offended. And it doesn’t usually take that much for the feminist in me to be offended. But maybe because the movie was so over the top, atmospheric and “out-there,” I did not take it that seriously. And the music bits were so good, the great soundtrack added to the whole experience. Good music can redeem almost anything. I’m going to have to watch it again, to see if maybe I should have been more offended.

Laura Leaney You made me laugh Suzanne; I like "maybe I should have been more offended."

I have got to see this movie!

message 13: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne When you see it, you'll know what I mean.

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