Black, Benjamin. Christine Falls. While I liked this much better than The Sea, John Banville (writing under pseudonym of Benjamin Black) has produced another rather strange novel that appears to substantiate his generally misanthropic view of humanity.
Set in Dublin and Boston in the 1950's, the atmosphere is dark and oppressive. Banville/Black is quite successful in giving the feel of the period and especially, a feel of the cultural difficulties of post-war Dublin. None of the characters are particularly likable, and women are treated in an almost stereotypically distasteful manner.
The plot (which moves slowly with lots of hints) involves lost or stolen children and orphanages that have a sinister purpose. Loss and grief seem to be a theme the author wants to develop, but because none of the characters have much of a moral or ethical depth, I found the themes of hypocrisy and betrayal to be the most believable.
We are introduced to another dysfunctional and gothically perverse family and a main character (named Quirke, in case you don't get the many quirks of fate) who barely seems to function. When he does function, we are led to believe that almost everything he does in pursuing the mystery is out of character for the man who has never looked deeply into relationships and who has spent the better part of his life drunk or sleep-walking through most situations...to the point that he appears to have "forgotten" an unforgettable occasion.
The first in a series to feature Quirke, the novel seems to fall loosely into the crime/suspense genre, but I'm not much interested in pursuing Quirke.
Fiction. Crime/suspense/mystery. 2006. 340 pages.