I specifically chose to read Fall during the last few days of semester because it meant that I could reread Hades and Eden while I was studying. I now have so many books to read that I have to figure out which ones will fit into my schedule. Absolutely ridiculous.
Anyway, Fall was a little different to the two books that preceded it. There were still overlapping stories and POVs, but none of these stories took place in the past. In both Hades and Eden, we learn about those two characters through the flashback parts of the story. This in turn allows us to better understand these characters and how much they have buried deep in their pasts. In Fall, we don’t really have that. Sure, the POV of one of the characters delves into the past but it’s written as reminiscence rather than the actual happenings of back then. Does that make sense? Like, these glimpses into the past happen in present day, rather than the story being told from back then.
However, despite these differences, we still get that “peeking under the mask” feel to a few of the characters. We’re introduced to two new players: Hooky, a seventeen-year old savant who helps the police catch paedophiles online; and Imogen, Frank’s new girlfriend. And as we get introduced to these characters, we see a different side to them. No one in the Bennett/Archer series thus far have been what they seem.
One thing I’ve learned from reading Candice Fox for the last few years is that she is exceptional at characterisation. How else can she get us to root for the serial-killer cop or the underworld kingpin? She knows exactly how to present these characters so that we feel empathy for them, even though these characters are some of the more despicable that I’ve read.
What Candice Fox did, in Fall was to make the most “innocuous” character the most detestable. I hated Imogen most out of all of the characters in Fall‘s cast. Sure, Frank treated his ex-wives like crap, Eden kills people, Hades covers up those murders, and the killer, well, also kills people, but out of all of the characters, it was Imogen who I hated. I think because she was the most removed from what she seemed. She seems like the kind of person who wants to help traumatised police officers get back on the job (she’s a cop psychologist) but instead, she uses her position of power, influence, and trust to get information from these vulnerable individuals to fuel her passion as an “armchair detective”. See, at least with the other characters, you could empathise with their motives and see that they thought they were doing the right thing. But Imogen? She’s purely selfish. And I hate selfish people.
The plot of Fall is much like the other books in the Bennett/Archer series: there’s a crime, Frank and Eden solve that crime while also dealing with their fraught relationship and various demons in their past, while we get to see into the killer’s past. But it’s always been the character development that sells this series, not the plot. Which I adore. These characters aren’t formulaic. They’re real and flawed and damaged. Nothing really happens with these characters that you may expect, unlike in many cop shows out there. Fox makes everything new and unique purely through the eyes of her amazing characters.
I also want to talk about the character of Caroline Eckhart, but I’m not sure how to do this without pissing people off. So, in advance, I’m warning you that this next paragraph might make you mad.
Caroline Eckhart, in this book, is a feminist spokeswoman. She is a high profile member of the fitness community and is incredibly outspoken on behalf of the rights of women. Sounds amazing, right? And it is. However, Eckhart uses the spate of killings in Fall as a way to further her own platform. She makes assumptions, based on absolutely no evidence, that the killer is a man. Which is flat out misandry. Basing any opinions on stereotypes or generalisations reeks of prejudice. And Eckhart is one of the voices of feminism in Fox’s version of Sydney. There is no room for misandry in feminism, something that Fox drives home over and over again through Eckhart’s character.
So when Frank starts to shut Eckhart down in front of the press, she then uses her feminist influence to say that Frank is yet another man trying to stifle women. When, in fact, he’s trying to prevent her spreading vicious rumours that could derail the police investigation. Then, when an event Eckhart puts together is genuinely putting the public in danger, Eckhart dodges every Sydney police officers’ calls.
Eckhart basically just pisses me off.
I believe that this is Fox’s purpose in creating this character; to highlight the fact that feminism does NOT equal misandry.
I love Fox’s stories. She takes the formulaic world of crime fiction and makes it refreshing again. For this reason, I give Fall: