I’ve talked before about the fact I prefer to read a series of books in chronological order. I mean, logic kinda requires it… but it doesn’t always happen if you discover a new author or series belatedly. Arriving late to the party means you’re either really confused – if enough backstory / context isn’t provided; or renders earlier books (in the series) redundant if too much backstory is provided.
So it’s a very good thing that Lucifer Falls by Colin Falconer is the first in a new series by the English-born Australian writer.Lucifer Falls
by Colin Falconer
Series: DI Charlie George #1
Published by Constable
on December 27th 2018
Source: Hachette Australia
Genres: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
A killer stalks the streets of London . . .
When a priest is found crucified in a derelict North London chapel, it makes a dramatic change for DI Charlie George and his squad at Essex Road. The brutal murder could not be further from their routine of domestic violence and stabbings on the estates.
And that's only the beginning . . .
On Christmas Eve, a police officer goes missing and his colleagues can't help but anticipate the worst. It turns out they're right to when eventually the body is found and they discover he's been stoned to death.
As tensions rise, it's up to Charlie and his team to venture into the city's cold underbelly to try and find an answer to the madness . . . before anyone else dies a martyr's death.
I hadn’t read any of Falconer’s books before. Incidentally he seems to cross genres so writes under a number of names – his real name being Colin Bowles.
The first thing I noticed about his writing is the humour he injects into his characters. Charlie gives one of his offsiders, DS Jay Greene a hard time for his often-inappropriate quips but is prone to them himself. He’s well-educated and smart and slightly irreverent, so his off-hand comments are actually always pretty funny.
There are strong religious overtones here – obviously given the victims and title of the book – but it’s something Charlie struggles with and Falconer takes us into Charlie’s personal life so we understand why. He’s in his mid 30s and divorced (thanks predominantly to the fact he puts the job before his personal life) so there’s a bit of backstory there, but the focus is more on Charlie’s mother, father and siblings here and their inclusion adds a nice texture and complexity to the plot of this book. (And is kinda relevant, as it happens.)
I liked that the strongly atheist Charlie is challenged by one of the characters, a nun, who suggests his job and eagerness to fight for justice (etc) is very much a calling – akin to the passion others have to religion and god.
The support cast – Charlie’s colleagues and belligerent boss and the family members we meet are all strong and I’m keen to see where Falconer takes some of the relationships.
I also liked the pacing. Falconer didn’t pull we readers into the minutiae of the case. Instead we (like Charlie’s colleagues) got updates on elements of the investigation (finger prints, tyre tracks and so forth) at briefings.
It’s a bit hard to guess whodunit because it’s not the sort of book that introduces potential suspects a la Agatha Christie with a big reveal at the end. I do prefer those kinds of novels because my ego is such that I get a sense of validation when I’m able to solve the crime before the author reveals the baddie… but that (ahem) *quirk* aside… the ultimate motivation mostly makes sense and there’s a nice climax.
I hadn’t realised Falconer (Bowles) lived in Australia when I read this and, though it’s set in England, there’s contemporary references to a brother who lives in Australia (battling Adani mining company to save koala habitat) which seemed a bit obscure at the time, but makes more sense now.
This is a really strong start to this series. I realise it’ll probably be an entire year before we get to DI Charlie George #2 but I look forward to it nonetheless.
Lucifer Falls by Colin Falconer was published in Australia by Hachette and is now available.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.