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by Michael Allen Dymmoch
St Martin's Minotaur, August 2004
240 pages
ISBN: 0312321937

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

There seems to have been a spate of standalones leaping from the pens of writers hitherto known for a long-running series. Michael Allen Dymmoch, author of the Thinnes and Caleb series, has now come up with THE FALL.

Oh, and just in case you don't know, Dymmoch is a she beneath the trenchcoat and fedora in the publicity picture.

It took me a while to get around to reading the first Thinnes and Caleb book -- anything with cat in the title makes me twitch -- and remember very little about it, except liking the idea of the radically different main characters (gay shrink, straight cop). I couldn't have been that fussed, though, as I've never sought out any more. Based on the evidence of the standalone, though, Dymmoch's a highly competent writer who just lacks that certain je ne sais quoi that propels writers into my hall of fame.

Joanne Lessing is a single mother in Chicago who is just starting to make a name for herself as a photographer. She's taking pictures of Canada geese in a park one morning when she sees a swanky foreign car speeding past. The driver seems to panic when he sees Joanne and her camera and hits a parked car before speeding off.

Joanne turns the photos over to the police -- and from then on her life becomes chaos. Unfeasibly handsome FBI agent Paul Minorini takes a shine to her, though, and seems to be the only person who realises she might just be in danger.

THE FALL is a quick read. I wouldn't exactly call it a page turner, although I did have some interest in finding out what happened. But it's curiously flat. There are occasional little bubbles of activity, but considering the potential of the plot, I was more than a tad disappointed. And you may find that, like me, you have great difficulty buying Joanne's motives at a key point in the book (sorry to be cryptic, but we're talking major spoiler here!)

The ending is far too neat -- Dymmoch seems to want to be even-handed to her main characters, but instead left me feeling dissatisfied and more than faintly unconvinced. File under 'not quite sure.'

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, August 2004

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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