McGowan, Claire - 'The Fall'
This is a story of a privileged couple a short time before their expensive wedding of the year. He works for a bank and she in PR. Their lifestyle is full of luxury, indulgence and they can have anything they want. The world is their oyster and then it comes tumbling down.
Dan is stressed, the work culture he is part of demands long hours with total commitment, no matter what they ask you to do. Charlotte is in a world of her own, obsessed with her dream wedding, money slipping through her fingers with no thought to the final cost.
One evening Dan tells Charlotte that his bank is in financial trouble. He persuades Charlotte to go out to a new club to help them to relax. Before they set off he persuades her to join him in trying some cocaine, a gift from his boss. The evening is a confusion of people and noise, Charlotte's head whirling from the drug and so she barely notices when Dan's credit card is refused and he is invited into the manager's office.
Early the next morning they are woken by the police who have come to see Dan. The manager of the club has been found brutally murdered and Dan's credit card found in his office. Charlotte protests his innocence but Dan cannot remember what happened. He remembers punching the guy but that is all. The tabloids quickly name him the “Banker Butcher” after details of a racist culture at his bank are leaked.
Circumstantial evidence piles up and Dan is charged with murder. Charlotte soon finds that she is the only one who believes in his innocence, that her friends are only fair-weather friends and that she is on her own. The only person who seems to be able and willing to help is Keisha, a young woman whose child is in care, who is running from her violent boyfriend and who seems to know more about the night in the club that she is telling.
At first I felt no sympathy for Charlotte and Dan - their world is so privileged and they seem oblivious to how people not in their world live. The story is as much about the changes that are forced on them as about the murder and its resolution. Keisha's story on the other hand is one of lost promise and poverty. Her choices seem limited and yet she is the one to offer hope to Charlotte. The way their worlds collide makes an interesting and believable read.
THE FALL is a powerful story that builds to a satisfying climax; an enjoyable although at times, uncomfortable, read. A book that makes one realise how a comfortable, complacent life can so quickly be lost. This is a first novel and I will be looking for more books by this author.
Read another review of THE FALL.
Susan White, England
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