<b>Sukey's favorite</b> Garret Quirke drinks too much and thinks too much maybe broods is more apt. But he's got a lot to brood about: his early life as an orphan; a wife who died years ago in childbirth; her sister, whom he still loves, married to a man he grew up with; a solitary life now numbed by whiskey and cigarettes. Quirke, a Dublin pathologist, is the protagonist of <b>Christine Falls</b> by Booker prize-winner John Banville (writing here as Benjamin Black). It's billed as a debut crime novel but, though the genre may be new for Banville/Black, his prose is as lyrically elegant and vividly metaphoric as always. That and Timothy Dalton's resonant, subtly shaded performance set <b>Christine Falls</b> apart from garden-variety crime fiction. There is, of course, mystery, suspense and a crime a cover-up with myriad ramifications that Quirke blunders into. The mood is dark, the plot complex and compelling, and Quirke, with all his problems, is someone I didn't want to let go of. Luckily, as this is the first of a series, I won't have to.

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