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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Black, Benjamin: Christine Falls

  Amazon  

4.5 stars

Christine Falls' death would have passed mostly unnoticed by Quirke if he had not stumbled down from the nurse's going-away party and caught his brother-in-law, Malachy, at Quirke's desk, looking at the girl's autopsy report. Mal, a star in the world of obstetrics, some floors above in Holy Family Hospital, had no business rifling through files in the pathology lab. But Quirke, who registered all this through a drunken fog, was left to piece together the puzzle of Mal's behavior after he'd sobered up. Sobriety is not a regular state for Quirke, a likable man who sloshes through life nursing old losses--his wife's death, an apparently never consummated love for her sister, Mal's wife. Making the story of his family's politics more complicated, Quirke was all but adopted in his youth by Malachy's father, Judge Griffin, saved from the horrors--alluded to but never spelled out--of the orphanage for which the Judge served on the board of visitors. It can't have been easy for Malachy, whose father clearly preferred Quirke to his own son.

Somehow the Christine Falls business bothers Quirke enough to conduct a desultory investigation. It isn't much: he's no go-getter of a detective. But it's enough to attract the attention of people interested in her death, and it lands him in some trouble. At the end of the book, Quirke, as a result of his involvement, is a changed man. He is arguably a better man at the book's end, but in an interesting twist readers may like him less the more they learn about him. It's a tribute to the depth of Quirke's character that our feelings for him are so mixed. Some three quarters of the way into the book a nurse, referring to a third character, recently dead, asks Quirke, "Do you think Mr. Crawford was a bad man?" "He was a man, Brenda," Quirke said. "That's all. And now he's gone." Quirke, like Crawford, is neither all good nor all bad--though some men are better than others, and Quirke lands on the better side of the continuum.

Readers looking for the excitement and tidy endings of a traditional mystery should look elsewhere. Christine Falls is literary fiction that happens to be wrapped around a mystery, more about character than plot. If you go in with these expectations I don't think you'll be disappointed. I certainly will be interested in following Mr. Quirke's career in subsequent installments in the series.

Comments

1.

I still prefer John Banville when he writes under his real name rather than under this "nom de plume". As Black he has published 3 Quirke books plus a fourth. None is nearly as well-written as The Sea in my opinion.
www.living2read.com

2.

I've actually never read anything else by him. I'll have to one of these days.

3.

cool story, i wanna buy it. Thanks the synopsis.

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