STARRED REVIEW
September 20, 2016

More than meets the eye

By Stuart Neville
Review by

So Say the Fallen is Stuart Neville’s seventh crime novel, and the third in his fine Belfast series to feature DCI Serena Flanagan. It’s an enthralling modern-day police procedural that allows readers ample opportunity to appreciate the author’s skill at creating characters of depth and staying power.

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So Say the Fallen is Stuart Neville’s seventh crime novel, and the third in his fine Belfast series to feature DCI Serena Flanagan. It’s an enthralling modern-day police procedural that allows readers ample opportunity to appreciate the author’s skill at creating characters of depth and staying power.

Successful businessman Henry Garrick, severely injured in a car accident, has apparently committed suicide six months after the event. Called in on what looks like an open-and-shut case, Flanagan senses that something isn’t right about the scene, and she begins looking closely at the widow’s grief—as well as the behavior of the Garrick’s rector, frequently on the scene in the role of comforter to the bereaved.

Starting with the seemingly obvious death by overdose, the author switches his magnifying lens to each character, viewing them from a variety of angles. Small cracks in their facades begin to appear, eventually opening a chasm of suspicion that Flanagan diligently pursues. As a woman apparently locked in anguish, Roberta Garrick eventually reveals her many facets, possessing stealth and craftiness that becomes more frightening as the story progresses. The detective also shadows the rector, who comes close to confiding in her as he reveals a rabbity, furtive desperation that’s heightened as he confronts the loss of his own religious faith.

Flanagan receives no support from her superiors, who want her to sign off on the tragedy and call it a suicide. But her scrutiny pays off as she picks up on small, odd anomalies of behavior, refusing to abandon her own theory that wife and rector are far more than a picture of innocence. A moving and all-too-believable side story provides a look into Flanagan’s personal life as she finds herself estranged from her husband and kids, who want more family commitment from her just when she’s deeply ensnared in the case.

This novel stands apart from many of today’s thrillers in which scattershot dialogue often adds little more than surface thrills to play-by-play action and wannabe screenplay scenes. Neville reveals an outsize talent for offering real and disturbing insights into his characters and for allowing readers an all-too-rare opportunity to penetrate beyond the shell of a story. This is one of those books that you won’t want to put down until you’ve read it cover to cover.

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So Say the Fallen

So Say the Fallen

By Stuart Neville
Soho Crime
ISBN 9781616957391

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