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The Fallen [Abridged, Audiobook] [Audio CD]

T. Jefferson Parker , David Colacci
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb 2011

A detective with a unique gift, a tragic suicide and big city corruption – ‘The Fallen’ is the stunning new thriller from the author of ‘The Blue Hour’: ‘a great writer… he’s amazing’ Lee Child

What if you could tell someone was a killer just by looking at them?

Detective Robbie Brownlaw can. A six-storey plunge from a burning hotel leaves him with the usual broken bones – and something different. Synesthesia. The ability to see words and emotions as colours makes Robbie a human lie detector.

It's a condition that might have helped Garrett Asplundth. Hired to look into rumours surrounding a certain madam's Little Black Book, Garrett found a lot more than the usual round of losers and sad husbands. But the dirt came at a high price.

Now he's dead and it's only when Robbie gets hold of the book that he finds out just why Garrett was so curious – and why others will kill to get it back…

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Brilliance Corporation; Abridged edition (Feb 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1455802662
  • ISBN-13: 978-1455802661
  • Product Dimensions: 12.5 x 13.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Review

Praise for ‘The Fallen’:

‘Writes with intelligence, style and sensitivity, and he belongs in the first rank of American crime novelists.’ Washington Post

‘Excellent…with his trademark psychological acuity and empathy, Parker creates a world of fully realized characters coping with obsession and loss…compelling.’ Publisher’s Weekly

‘Deft…his dialogue crackles and pops in an intricate and well-paced tale set in a city where shadowy characters lurk beneath sunny skies.’ Booklist

Praise for Jefferson Parker:

‘A great writer…he’s amazing.’ Lee Child

‘Parker gets better and better.' Literary Review

‘Insanely imaginative.' New York Times

‘Parker has only one rival – Thomas Harris.’ Washington Post

‘One of our top writers.’ Harlan Coben

‘I rank the crime novels of Jefferson Parker up there with the best.’ Sue Grafton

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

What if you could tell someone was a killer just by looking at them?

Robbie Brownlow can - just an ordinary San Diego detective until he plunges six storeys from a burning hotel. He wakes up with the usual scars and broken bones but this time there's something different. Synaesthesia. The ability to see words and emotions as colours now makes Robbie a human lie detector.

It's a condition Gus Asplundth could have done with himself. Hired to look into rumours surrounding a certain madam's Little Black Book, he finds much more than just the usual round of losers and sad husbands. But the information that would cost the city its reputation ends up costing him his life.

Now Robbie's got the book. And with the killers after him, he's about to find out it's the last thing he wants… --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reviewed for Midwest Book Review 4 Dec 2006
Format:Hardcover
San Diego homicide detective Robbie Brownlaw lived an ordinary life until he was thrown out of a sixth-floor window. Brownlaw survived but developed synesthesia and now sees voices as colored shapes which relay the true emotions behind spoken words. Brownlaw has learned to trust his condition and feels he has his own internal "lie detector". He has also developed a friendship with the man who threw him from the window but finds his marriage beginning to fall apart.

When the body of ethics investigator Garrett Asplundh is found in his car beneath the bridge where he proposed to his wife, the general consensus is suicide. After his little girl drowned, Asplundh separated from his wife and began drinking heavily. Brownlaw and his partner, McKenzie Cortez, investigate the case and quickly determine Asplundh was murdered. When he died, Asplundh was investigating a case which involved local government officials and could influence the city's upcoming financial ranking if the results become known. Was the murder tied to his investigation or one of a more personal nature?

Parker's written a well-paced mystery with a unique character in Brownlaw. Characterization is nicely portrayed, from Brownlaw's frustration over his crumbling marriage to insights into Asplundh's agony over the death of his daughter and subsequent acts of benevolence.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
"The Fallen" is a San Diego-based police procedural (sort of). On the first page of the book, we are told that the protagonist--for I find it very hard to think of him as a hero in any meaningful way--of the book, policeman Robbie Brownlaw, had been tossed out of a sixth floor window by a man he had attempted to save from a fire. Against all reasonable expectations, Brownlaw had survived his fall. Before long, we are told the same thing again, and a few pages farther on, again, and then again and yet again.

From the drum-like repetition of this scene, for the first, oh, say 340 pages of this 369 page paperback novel, I innocently assumed that the title of the book referred to Brownlaw, the man who had fallen out of a window. Thereafter it becomes increasingly clear that the title refers to the individual set up to take the fall as the villain of the piece, the one who has fallen from honor, from truth and from grace is, and always was "The Fallen."

Some Amazon US reviewers have praised this book as well-written and well-characterized. I don't see it. In this first person novel, Brownlaw is as endlessly introspective as he is utterly imperceptive. He is a man who knows not joy nor anger nor hate, save as words on a Scrabble board. He goes on and on about love, but love to him is a sort of tepid, passive possessiveness. He is, in fact, a classic portrayal of the kind of person characterized in Yiddish (or as Leo Rosten would say, in Ynglish) as a "nudzh." And everybody else in the book is something of a nudzh, too.

All this is, in its way, a moderately impressive accomplishment, but it is not, I am sure, an accomplishment at which author Parker aimed.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad... but not brilliant. 10 Mar 2009
Format:Paperback
It's nothing special, to be honest. The prose is good (not amazing), there's all the usual crime type elements in there (a web of sleaze, a million people, plenty of departments to remember), and you *are* kept guessing who-done-it. But I found the characters to be a little bit flat, and Brownlaw certainly doesn't make enough use of his talent, not to mention story altering use of it. Think of this as the usual run-of-the-mill police detective novel with a slightly quirky hero.

Importantly, there isn't much gunplay or fist-fights in this. It's a talky affair. Not bad though, I'll probably look out for more from the author.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  68 reviews
39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant piece of fiction from Parker 4 Mar 2006
By Craig - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Like the reviewer before me, I won't bother with rehashing the plot. Suffice to say that our hero is a cop working a tough case.

What seperates this from so many police procedurals is Parker's writing, and his ability to present characters as multidimensional. Robbie Brownlaw presents one face to the world, but Parker lets the reader know - without being obvious or heavy-handed - just how complex a person he is, and he makes it seem like everyone has those complexities even if they're not always noticed.

There were 2 facets to this novel that I think could have really harmed the book in the hands of a lesser writer. The first is the manner in which Robbie's ability manifests itself, which I believe would have been beaten to death by many authors. The second is the subplot involving Robbie and Gina's marital troubles. I've read many police procedurals where the personal relationships seem created for nothing more than filling pages, but this isn't one of them. For one thing, their discussions and problems are about as believable as any I've ever read in a novel. Secondly, the problems with Gina are the perfect vehicle for Robbie to use in his own self-examination, which adds greatly to his appeal and that of the book.

Parker has already won a couple of Edgar awards, and it's easy to see why when you read this one. Great story and a terrific writer, probably the best book I've read so far this year.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Despite praise elsewhere, I find problems with prose, characterization and plotting 30 Oct 2007
By L. E. Cantrell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"The Fallen" is a San Diego-based police procedural (sort of). On the first page of the book, we are told that the protagonist--for I find it very hard to think of him as a hero in any meaningful way--of the book, policeman Robbie Brownlaw, had been tossed out of a sixth floor window by a man he had attempted to save from a fire. Against all reasonable expectations, Brownlaw had survived his fall. Before long, we are told the same thing again, and a few pages farther on, again, and then again and yet again.

From the drum-like repetition of this scene, for the first, oh, say 340 pages of this 369 page paperback novel, I innocently assumed that the title of the book referred to Brownlaw, the man who had fallen out of a window. Thereafter it becomes increasingly clear that the title refers to the individual set up to take the fall as the villain of the piece, the one who has fallen from honor, from truth and from grace is, and always was "The Fallen."

Some Amazon reviewers have praised this book as well-written and well-characterized. I don't see it. In this first person novel, Brownlaw is as endlessly introspective as he is utterly imperceptive. He is a man who knows not joy nor anger nor hate, save as words on a Scrabble board. He goes on and on about love, but love to him is a sort of tepid, passive possessiveness. He is, in fact, a classic portrayal of the kind of person characterized in Yiddish (or as Leo Rosten would say, in Ynglish) as a "nudzh." And everybody else in the book is something of a nudzh, too.

All this is, in its way, a moderately impressive accomplishment, but it is not, I am sure, an accomplishment at which author Parker aimed. Here is a passage which, structurally at least, marks one of the few emotional high points of the book:

"Do you know what you're doing?" I asked.
"Yes."
"Can you explain it to me?"
"I can try." She crossed her pale legs and folded her hands in her lap.
"I came here for a new life. I think there must be more."
"More what?"
"More everything. I know that sounds really shallow but I'm aching inside for something I can't see and can't touch. But I know it's there. It's right there, just past my ability to understand. Just out of reach of my words."
"I'd be happy to help you look for it."
"It's something I want to do alone." [Page 356 of the paperback edition]

"Just out of reach of my words," indeed! And this affectless soap opera dialogue goes on and on.

In another scene, Brownlaw confronts a powerful man in his lair. Now, this is a good, traditional detective story set-up. The most famous and brilliant of all such confrontations is the fateful initial meeting between Sam Spade and the Fat Man in the latter's hotel suite: "I like a man who likes to talk, Mr. Spade." In "The Fallen" a sinister money-man has the opportunity to emulate Gordon Gecko in a "Greed is Good" speech. In the book, alas, Mr. Sinister speaks in the flat tones of the very same self-convinced voice that characterizes Brownlaw and everybody else in the book. Just another nudzh.

Here is a speech Painly intended to represent the emotional demolition of one of Parker's characters. The speaker recalls the action that initiated every plot twist of the ensuing mystery:

"It was one of those moments we talked about in my office where everything changes in an instant. It was an impulse. A speculation. I didn't think that what I had imagined would actually happen. The, a few minutes later I ... saw it really was happening. I only had a few seconds to decide. I decided to do the most terrifying thing I'd ever done--nothing. The sounds were quiet but awful, and nobody could hear except me. I knew that I'd sold my soul to the devil.... It was worth it." [Page 346-347]

For all intents and purposes, that is the speaker's suicide note. But do the words and tone carry emotional weight? I think not. I've heard stronger emotion and deeper stress in high school valedictory speeches.

Now let's consider the book's plotting. We readers are given every reason to anticipate a massive confrontation between Brownlaw and a group of shadowy and powerful foes. It may yet come, but this book wraps itself up in a powerful odor of red herrings.

In a subordinate plot line, a sex trade worker has participated in actions we are told (but never shown) that could have disastrous consequences for her. Strangely, neither she nor Brownlaw evidence the slightest hint of worry, even after her action. WHAT were they THINKING?

From that ever-repeated flight out the window, Brownlaw has acquired a synesthesia. After the fall, he is able to see emotions as colors. "... blue triangles generally came from a happy speaker. Red squares came from a deceptive one. Green trapezoids usually came from someone who was envious--green really is the color of envy, just like we were always told.... So I have what amounts to a primitive lie detector, though I'm not certain how reliable it is." [Page 5-6]

Amazon reprints this from Bookmarks Magazine: "Although critics could not decide whether Brownlaw's synesthesia was a gimmicky element or not, they agreed that ..." I can't imagine what puzzled these "critics." Of course it's a gimmick. Here's an easy test. For every passage in which Brownlaw maunders on about seeing red squares emerging from the mouth of a liar, simply substitute something along the lines of "I didn't think he was telling the truth." Having done that, does the change have any effect on the course of the book? The answer, of course, is no.

This is a book of unimpressive prose, flat characterization and indifferent plotting. It's not actually awful, but it's not especially good, either.

A run-of-the-mill three stars.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 6 Mar 2006
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you enjoy homicide detective procedurals, you're not going to be disappointed in this one. The writing is crisp, the plot is tight and well-crafted, and the characters involved are intriguing.

The Fallen is the first novel by T. Jefferson Parker I've read. As I did so, I felt myself feeling kind of envious of those who have been in the loop on this fine writer all along. I bought this book based on the fact that the author has already won two Edgars, one award that consistently directs you to the creme de la creme of talent. I was not disappointed.

I was also intrigued by the notion of a detective who sees colors corresponding to the emotions of people when they talk. I wondered how Parker would pull off a device like that. It turns out, he used a light hand in developing something that could have easily been overdone, and he made it quite believable that someone could actually have this ability. It worked!

I was not disappointed in this book at all. There's lots of intrigue and strange situations, including the Squeaky Clean Prostitution ring whose class AAA prostitutes are required to drive around in VW convertible Cabriolets. This is an excellent book for curling up with in the evening, or for whiling a way a lazy weekend. Have fun!
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Parker's best work to date 14 Mar 2006
By Bookreporter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
T. Jefferson Parker has been an A-List author of crime fiction almost since his first novel, LAGUNA HEAT, was published. With each subsequent book, Parker has demonstrated that not only is he better than anyone could anticipate but also that perhaps the depth of his talent has yet to be plumbed. This observation isn't prompted by any deficiency in his new novel; on the contrary, THE FALLEN goes places that Parker has not gone before.

Parker's penchant for bringing a flawed, quirky, but ultimately upright protagonist to the party is present again in this novel with the introduction of Robbie Brownlaw. Brownlaw is an immediately likable character, a police officer who achieved his five minutes of fame as the result of miraculously surviving a rescue effort that went dramatically wrong. Brownlaw does, however, sustain physical trauma, leaving him with synesthesia. Synesthesia is a neurological condition that results in a mixing or blending of the senses; it is a rare condition, and there is some controversy within the medical field as to whether it exists at all.

In Brownlaw's case, he occasionally sees shapes and colors when people speak and has learned that these shapes and colors can reflect the emotions and intent of the speaker. This is quite a tool for a police officer, and a lesser writer than Parker would have made the book's conclusion hinge on Brownlaw's neurological lie detector catching the bad guy in a climactic gathering of suspects. But no; Parker uses Brownlaw's condition as an important, but not all-inclusive, element of the story, one that helps propel the already fascinating story without carrying the entire weight of it.

And what of the story? Brownlaw and his partner, McKenzie Cortez, are assigned to investigate the death of Garrett Asplundh, an ethics investigator for the City of San Diego. Asplundh, a former police officer, had a reputation as a straight-arrow officer who was trying to put his life together after the death of his daughter and a subsequent divorce. Asplundh's death at first appears to be a suicide, but the timing --- he was on the verge of reconciling with his ex-wife --- and circumstance of his death ultimately lead Brownlaw and Cortez to conclude that Asplundh was the victim of a skilled murderer --- and possibly someone known to Asplundh.

The team begins to backtrack over Asplundh's investigation and finds that at the time of his death, he had been on the verge of preparing a report with serious repercussions for San Diego and its elected representatives. At the same time, however, Brownlaw is suspicious that Asplundh's death was not due to his investigation, but instead was a crime of passion. Brownlaw and Cortez do not lack for suspects possessing either motivation, and they doggedly pursue leads in all directions, even as Brownlaw's personal life begins to inexorably fall apart for reasons he cannot understand.

THE FALLEN is Parker's best to date, an accolade that has been equally applicable to each of his last several novels. This is as unique a work --- and a writer --- as you'll find in this genre, with characters you'll think about long after you close the book. Very highly recommended.

--- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent novel - Parker's outdone himself 2 Mar 2006
By Brian Baker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I won't bother rehashing the story line as you can see that in the publishing reviews.

I've been a fan of Parker's since his first book, and always look forward to the next. "The Fallen" is an excellent example of why.

As a straight police procedural the book works very, very well; yet it's so much more. His characters, good and bad alike, are painted vividly and richly, and his protagonist (Robbie Brownlaw) truly comes to life as a very appealing and involving character. Parker has a terrific gift for conveying the moral complexity of real life, how even good people can be drawn into bad acts while they try to interpret the shades of gray between the black and white. He also acknowledges the basic human weaknesses, and how they can drive one compulsively, as they do the antagonist character in the piece (whose name I won't reveal so I don't spoil the plot).

The subplot of Robbie's attempts to save his marriage to Gina, a potential distraction to the main story line if not handled skillfully, actually adds greatly to this novel; it gives us real insight into Robbie's character and motivation and is in itself very engaging.

Parker's handling of setting is terrific; his contrasting portrayal of dark events against the glittering southern California backdrop is a wonderful counterpoint. I live in SoCal and can tell you he has it nailed to a tee.

I strongly recommend this book, and eagerly await Parker's next.
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