Hachette Books Ireland; €12.99
DOYLE and his girlfriend move to Bristol. An actress, Daphne fails to find work and sinks into depression. She watches TV, unseeingly, and stops engaging with the world. So when Doyle returns to his flat and finds Daphne dead in the bath, the reader isn’t too surprised.
But why is Doyle arrested for murder? And why, when he’s released without charge, is he still under suspicion?
Falling Slowly follows Doyle through the uneasy weeks between Daphne’s death and her delayed funeral. In limbo, he feels adrift. He stays with her family, but feels unable to answer their questions. And then, back in Bristol, as curator of a new restaurant, he discovers some paintings depicting the dead Daphne in the bath. This sends him into freefall.
He starts to wonder if maybe he did kill Daphne, and when he shows his violent side to a neighbour, the reader wonders too. Then he uncovers a dark secret that makes sense of everything.
This is a taut psychological page-turner, with a dramatic, well-executed end. The start of the book felt forced. The reader didn’t know Daphne well before she died. But as the book progresses we gain a picture of a vibrant, unconventional beauty who had huge sexual appeal. I liked that gradual unveiling.
Perhaps strangely, we learn less about Doyle. Through his confusion and grief, he remains reserved and passive. He reacts to events, acting as a foil to show the other characters more clearly. Daphne’s family are drawn with skill. There’s Dorothy, suffering from ME. She’s always had a soft spot for Doyle, and she’s never appeared at ease with her arrogant husband, Theo.
Fannin, though, is proving an interesting writer. His debut, Shooting the Moon showed huge promise. Falling Slowly moves him into a new sphere.
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