The Fall by Claire McGowan

The Fall by Claire McGowan

What would you do if the man you love was accused of murder?

Bad things never happen to Charlotte. She’s living the life she’s always wanted and about to marry wealthy banker, Dan. But Dan’s been hiding a secret, and the pressure is pushing him over the edge. After he’s arrested for the vicious killing of a nightclub owner, Charlotte’s future is shattered.

Then she opens her door to Keisha, an angry and frustrated stranger with a story to tell. Convinced of Dan’s innocence, Charlotte must fight for him – even if it means destroying her perfect life. But what Keisha knows threatens everyone she loves, and puts her own life in danger.

DC Matthew Hegarty is riding high on the success of Dan’s arrest. But he’s finding it difficult to ignore his growing doubts as well as the beautiful and vulnerable Charlotte. Can he really risk it all for what’s right?

Three stories. One truth. They all need to brace themselves for the fall.

Although billed as a crime and police procedural novel, The Fall by debut author Claire McGowan – Director of the Crime Writer’s Association – is so much more than interviewing suspects and listening to witnesses give evidence in a murder trial – for me this book is about an unlikely relationship between two very different women and to some extent a police detective focussing on his career and gaining promotion.

I don’t normally begin a book review discussing characterisation but as I personally found it to be the main ingredient in the story I think I’ll allow myself a little latitude just this once! Told from three very individual perspectives, that of Charlotte, Keisha and Hegarty, I enjoyed how McGowan developed the story and relationships, never forcing either, allowing them to flow effortlessly and develop naturally.

Charlotte and Keisha’s relationship is intriguing to say the least. From two very different backgrounds they form a bond that some will possibly question its legitimacy. Would they meet in the real world? Human nature is a very funny thing and who knows what lies just around the corner. My personal take on it – anything is possible! Charlotte has spent months organising a glamorous and extortionate wedding with her banker fiancé Dan and is where she wants to be in life; Keisha on the other hand is in an abusive relationship with Chris and is fighting to regain custody of her daughter Ruby, a daughter now in the care of the Social Services. Both women are on opposite sides of the spectrum and unlikely to ever meet. The only thing they have in common is the Jamaican night club where Anthony Johnson, the club’s owner is murdered.

Claire McGowan

Claire McGowan

When Keisha turns up on Charlotte’s doorstep she discovers a once confident and beautiful blonde destroyed and seemingly out of control living in her very own nightmare. Unable to focus on anything Charlotte has stopped working, let herself go, the flat is in a mess and food is the last thing on her mind. Charlotte begins to rely on Keisha’s company and personality and as we slowly discover both women edge forwards, tentatively at first, and begin to fight back.  As their relationship grows Keisha exerts a strong influence over Charlotte and the two, although it is never acknowledged, heavily rely on each other.

The only character I had any difficulty with was Charlotte’s very own mother! Hate is such a strong word so I’d best not use that one, I think detest is a favourable replacement! Charlotte’s mother is very well written and just evokes a feeling of anger, certainly from me, others may love her! I just wanted to grab her by the scruff of her neck and shake her until she stopped talking or went back home! Fortunately she doesn’t play a leading role but for a few pages I could feel my blood pressure rising uncontrollably! Well played Claire!

The narrative is intelligent and absorbing, the individual voices McGowan lends her three protagonists is impressive and distinctive. She captures Keisha’s essence – more than any other character – and her rough and ready language is arresting and colourful. Whenever Keisha speaks she does so with individuality and realism I hadn’t anticipated. McGowan has certainly researched this aspect incredibly well.

Keisha went out, banging the door behind, so angry she almost forgot to peer into the bushes just in case someone was hiding. As she stomped along to the bus stop, she was getting more and more pissed off. Bloody Charlotte, little miss snooty-pants! Who’d she think she was, buying biscuits for the cops, springing it on her like that! Bloody bitch, she’d told her, she’d said she didn’t want to talk to the police, when they wouldn’t believe her anyway, when she had no proof, not even a bit, when Chris was still round somewhere, and hello, he wouldn’t exactly be loving it if she told the fucking cops on him! Charlotte was so stupid sometimes, like she came from another planet, where the police were your chums. 

The story itself is well thought out and although I had a rough idea what would happen at the end of the book McGowan certainly surprised me with one aspect of the story and it’s not until the very final pages that it unravels and finality ensues.

An entertaining and strong debut, The Fall is a taut and engaging crime thriller that not only examines the key relationship between two very different women but stands resolute in its police procedural. A quick read the story flows well and before you know it you’ve reached the end. Highly commendable.

Published by Headline, The Fall is available in Paperback & Kindle Formats

  • ISBN-10: 0755386345
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755386345
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3 Responses to “The Fall by Claire McGowan – Book Review”

  1. Susi Holliday (@SJIHolliday) says:

    Excellent, honest review as always. I completely agree that this is a crime thriller that’s all about the characters. Charlotte’s mother was infuriatingly brilliant – would love to know if she was based on a real person! :)

  2. Nikki-ann says:

    ANOTHER book to add to my TBR pile. Sounds great :)

  3. Shelley says:

    As a writer, I like McGowan’s honest, un-glam “author’s photo.”

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