Christine Falls

Christine Falls

A Novel

Book - 2006
Average Rating:
Rate this:
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 brother-in-law, Malachy, altering a file he has no business even reading. Odd enough in itself to find Malachy there, but the next morning, when the haze has lifted, it looks an awful lot like his brother-in-law, the esteemed doctor, was in fact tampering with a corpse--and concealing the cause of death.
It turns out the body belonged to a young woman named Christine Falls. And as Quirke reluctantly presses on toward the true facts behind her death, he comes up against some insidious--and very well-guarded--secrets of Dublin's high Catholic society, among them members of his own family.
Set in Dublin and Boston in the 1950s, the first novel in the Quirke series brings all the vividness and psychological insight of Booker Prize winner John Banville's fiction to a thrilling, atmospheric crime story. Quirke is a fascinating and subtly drawn hero, Christine Falls is a classic tale of suspense, and Benjamin Black's debut marks him as a true master of the form.
Publisher: New York : H. Holt, 2006
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780805081527
Characteristics: 340 p. ; 25 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Dec 01, 2018

I inadvertently read "Elegy for April" first--it's actually the 3rd in this series. Then I waited months on hold before getting this 1st. They are very different stories, but as the cover of "Elegy" says, it's "Irish Noir," a very dark story. So is this one. Many of the same characters recur, including Quirke and his stepbrother/brother-in-law Malachy. Years earlier, in the 1950s, soon after Quirke's marriage to Delia, she died in childbirth, as did the baby. Malachy and Sarah, who was Delia's sister, had one child, Phoebe, to whom Quirke was very close. The stepbrothers were both physicians in the same hospital, with different specialties. Many mysteries abound in this novel, and several murders. Another recurring character is the upper reaches of the Irish Catholic Church. Phoebe, not yet 20, wants to marry an unacceptable Protestant. After a severe injury to Quirke, and to get Phoebe away from the Protestant, her parents send the two to her maternal grandfather in Boston. The plot thickens as the connections between the Catholic Church in Ireland join with the Church in Boston, in ways that send Quirke digging for solutions to the mysteries.

Jun 13, 2018

I got this book after reading John Banville's "Time Pieces: A Dublin Memoir" and hearing that Banville considered the books he wrote under his real name as writer's art and the books wrote under the pseudonym Benjamin Black were writers craft. I guess I prefer art over craft.

I thought the story was a bit dull and disconnected at times. I would like to see a bit more character development of the Quirke and Malachy, and will probably look at the next book in the series.

Aug 14, 2016

A very Irish book, with the wit and sadness of a thousand years settling on the shoulders of a deeply flawed man. If you are looking for a procedural this is not your book. The plot resolution is telegraphed early and the one true twist is logical but seems to come from nowhere. Read this book for the finely wrought characters, a Dublin drawn as finely as the Dublin of James Joyce, and a time when the weight of the Catholic Church on the backs of mere humans was overwhelming. If you've seen The Magdalene Sisters it covers the same period and subject matter, but this is a truly original voice.

Sep 02, 2014

I enjoyed this book and the characters. I am looking forward to reading the rest of them. I hear there is a tv. series too.

Jul 20, 2014

I liked this book quite a lot, despite the fact that there seems to be a whiff of the Literary Author stooping to dabble in Genre. The blurbs were from Literary sources who seemed over-impressed with the Originality (when a cranky and possibly alcoholic Medical Examiner isn't really all that original, folks.)

But I *do* like the main character and I find the treatment of that era fascinating (post- WWII England). I'll read more of this series as they come out, but I probably won't read this one again (that's why the 4 stars instead of 5).

Apr 28, 2012

I have to admit that I am feeling a little let down by Christine Falls, on the one hand this book is strongly written by Benjamin Black, a pseudonym for author John Banville, but on the other, the actual plot seemed lacklustre and felt manufactured. This dark tale of baby smuggling by a powerful Catholic Society in the early 1950‘s involves murder, conspiracy and family secrets, and although parts of the book are truly well done, there were also parts that I found repetitive and rather boring.

Rather than a mystery, I felt the book was much more of a character study, and the main character, Quirke with his drinking, secrets and isolation was a familiar one for this genre. Unfortunately, the women in the book were on the most part damaged, fragile and insecure. I did love the fact that Black wrote a very layered tale and, in classic mystery style, slowly bits were peeled back and revealed. I guess what was missing for me was an actual mystery.

In the long run although I enjoyed the original and creative writing in Christine Falls, I needed more than well turned phrases, and both the pacing and the plot felt a little flat.

Feb 12, 2012

I've read mixed reviews from a few folks saying <i>Christine Falls</i> was not the best of the Quirke series. I couldn't disagree more. I love the plot it was very unexpected and two timelines really kept you thinking. A masterful work in my opinion and a great start to a compelling series of books.

Aug 01, 2011

Series well reviewed in Citizen, this is pen name of John Banville. Will start w first
Just got it, reads very well at start, but didn't seem to be getting anywhere. Will try the more recent one,

Apr 18, 2011

The first in this series of which there are now 3. I wish I had known this when I read "Elegy for April" first.
I enjoyed the smooth writing and a plot that moved along nicely. But it is, as it should be, the characters that make this story.

Dec 07, 2010

I enjoyed this novel much more than the last few in the Scarpetta series.

View All Comments


Add a Summary
Jan 12, 2011

Quirke is a pathologist at British hospital. He catches his brother in law, a gynecologist at same hospital tampering with the file of Christine Falls, a young woman who died in childbirth. The baby ends up going to America with a nurse moving there for a job with Josh Crawford, both doctors' father-in-law. Baby is "adopted" by unstable couple.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at CALS

To Top