Review

The Fallen

by T. Jefferson Parker



T. Jefferson Parker has been an A-List author of crime fiction
almost since his first novel, LAGUNA HEAT, was published. With each
subsequent book, Parker has demonstrated that not only is he better
than anyone could anticipate but also that perhaps the depth of his
talent has yet to be plumbed. This observation isn't prompted by
any deficiency in his new novel; on the contrary, THE FALLEN goes
places that Parker has not gone before.

Parker's penchant for bringing a flawed, quirky, but ultimately
upright protagonist to the party is present again in this novel
with the introduction of Robbie Brownlaw. Brownlaw is an
immediately likable character, a police officer who achieved his
five minutes of fame as the result of miraculously surviving a
rescue effort that went dramatically wrong. Brownlaw does, however,
sustain physical trauma, leaving him with synesthesia. Synesthesia
is a neurological condition that results in a mixing or blending of
the senses; it is a rare condition, and there is some controversy
within the medical field as to whether it exists at all.

In Brownlaw's case, he occasionally sees shapes and colors when
people speak and has learned that these shapes and colors can
reflect the emotions and intent of the speaker. This is quite a
tool for a police officer, and a lesser writer than Parker would
have made the book's conclusion hinge on Brownlaw's neurological
lie detector catching the bad guy in a climactic gathering of
suspects. But no; Parker uses Brownlaw's condition as an important,
but not all-inclusive, element of the story, one that helps propel
the already fascinating story without carrying the entire weight of
it.

And what of the story? Brownlaw and his partner, McKenzie Cortez,
are assigned to investigate the death of Garrett Asplundh, an
ethics investigator for the City of San Diego. Asplundh, a former
police officer, had a reputation as a straight-arrow officer who
was trying to put his life together after the death of his daughter
and a subsequent divorce. Asplundh's death at first appears to be a
suicide, but the timing --- he was on the verge of reconciling with
his ex-wife --- and circumstance of his death ultimately lead
Brownlaw and Cortez to conclude that Asplundh was the victim of a
skilled murderer --- and possibly someone known to Asplundh.

The team begins to backtrack over Asplundh's investigation and
finds that at the time of his death, he had been on the verge of
preparing a report with serious repercussions for San Diego and its
elected representatives. At the same time, however, Brownlaw is
suspicious that Asplundh's death was not due to his investigation,
but instead was a crime of passion. Brownlaw and Cortez do not lack
for suspects possessing either motivation, and they doggedly pursue
leads in all directions, even as Brownlaw's personal life begins to
inexorably fall apart for reasons he cannot understand.

THE FALLEN is Parker's best to date, an accolade that has been
equally applicable to each of his last several novels. This is as
unique a work --- and a writer --- as you'll find in this genre,
with characters you'll think about long after you close the book.
Very highly recommended.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 21, 2011

The Fallen
by T. Jefferson Parker

  • Publication Date: January 1, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense
  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper
  • ISBN-10: 0060562390
  • ISBN-13: 9780060562397