NVDT Book Review

Falling – Stevie Turner

Last summer I started reading waaaaay out of my usual Reading For Entertainment sphere. Falling was the jumping off point.

4.5 Stars Is it my kind of book? Not really. Is it ambitious and well executed? Yes.

First off, this is a long book. Back in the 80s it would have been in the Jackie Collins Sweeping Saga category. However, unlike Collins, this is an Epic Character Study, not an excuse for the what-a-web-we-weave with sexual indiscretions across multiple generations.

As an Epic Character Study, I stand in admiration of the author’s tenacity and ability to maintain continuity. Other than that, anything I say about this book would be a spoiler. Indeed, the last line of the blurb is tantamount to a spoiler. I quote—

James Hynde, fortified by several tots of whiskey, climbs up onto the roof of Parker Mews’ multi-storey car park and peers over the parapet. The game is up. The police will soon seize his millions, the Maserati, the London townhouse, and the Caribbean mansion on Windjammer Island.

Should he jump feet first or hold out his arms and topple over and over like a somersaulting gymnast? He closes his eyes, feels the breeze on his face, and pitches forward into the unknown.

Sixty feet below, Olivia Benet, a budding ballerina, rushes along Parker Mews towards the entrance to the multi-storey. Her interview for the Royal Ballet had taken much longer than expected, and she has but a few short minutes left before her parking ticket expires.

James has no idea of the consequences his action will have on his and Olivia’s lives.

See? I’d just as soon not know anything but a suicidal dude’s on the top of a car park and a ballerina is running for her car… I should have to open it to hear the thump.

When I read this book, after the initial BAM, I kept being reminded of a line from Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

“What’s that smell in this room? Didn’t you notice it, Brick? Didn’t you notice a powerful and obnoxious odor of mendacity in this room? There ain’t nothin’ more powerful than the odor of mendacity.”—Big Daddy.

I say that because every character in this book oozes mendacity. In fact, after a while when the two leads might appear to be honest, as a reader you are cautious to believe them. Which is a feather in the author’s cap. Telling you why the deuteragonists court each other, ultimately leading to marriage, divorce, a run-in with the London Deli Sandwich Mafia, ex-wife, more deli chicanery and misbehaviors In the country, which are only a few in a long string of broken and super-glued dreams, would spoil the book.

The character cast is deep, well drawn, and in keeping with the mendacity theme. Nobody shows up not wanting something and willing to tell a lie or three to get it. The ensuing Epic Character Study wrestling after each introduction is enough to keep you paying attention. And I don’t read this kind of thing.

The author does an excellent job hiding both the leads’ motivations for the first third of the book, so when the mendacity driven by avarice seeps out, it’s both startling and rewarding. In an Oh Dear, these people are kinds of fucked up way. After that, I felt like there was some occasional redundancy, as no one seems to learn anything from their misadventures and the same ol’ shit lands them in yet again another mess. Short version, male lead has a bad habit or two, and it fucks them up. Repeatedly. And often

I will confess to several trifles with Falling. Everyone takes way too many deep breaths, exhales, holds their breath, blows out a breath, sucks in a breath. I know everyone needs to breathe, but hardly a page goes by without someone breathing as a tag. Breath as a modified noun, breath as a verb. Rarely with an adverb, though. There are a few ‘whens’ and ‘thens’, nothing out of the ordinary. There are some chapter/scene endings that suffer from the same authorial leading as the last line of the blurb, but nothing major. What I call Very Acceptable Book Practices, personal preference aside.

My major trifle was with the male lead, whose addiction, though well written umpteen different ways in umpteen situations that drive the trials of this book, is a one-trick pony. Save for the female lead’s few encounters with shit heads who aren’t the lead. Yep, he’s pretty much bad news from page one and plays ‘the won’t do it again’ guilty puppy routine to the hilt, even from jail, but keeps doing it. Well enough for all but a few to keep buying it.

My favorite part of this book is toward the end when the deuteragonists discuss turning their diaries of life as a disappointing series of lies and cons and lost opportunities into a book, a work of Misery Lit that at once seems to explain this book and gives a post-modernist nod to breaking the fourth wall without coming right out and winking at us.

About Falling. These are some Contagiously Engaging Very Sick Puppies and if the human drama is your cup of tea, the author does a great job of portraying them. You’ll turn the pages just to see who will tell what lie or run their trip on whom next.

This is also, by far, including the few minor gripes, the most well written of Stevie Turner’s books. While I dislike most of her cover art and feel they do a disservice to her content by putting clip art people on the cover instead of leaving them to the reader, this one is so Escher-esque and outside that I can handle it. Take that comment with a grain of salt because Stevie’s books are about people. With at least one character who has a socially predatory psychology. And an author with a dry, dark sense of humor about some of the worst behaviors.


Published by

Phil Huston


20 thoughts on “NVDT Book Review”

  1. See, now you e gone and appealed to my desire to be distracted from life by people who do exactly to themselves what I try to avoid admitting I do to myself…🤡
    Seriously, though, this goes right onto my recommended reading list for mom when she invariably asks. Once she’s done, I usually end up borrowing the book, so…win-win!
    Thanks to the reviewer and writer, both!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not a huge fan of “real” human drama, based, I’m certain, on knowing enough/ dealing with whack jobs in my professional life. But if you are, these are some truly manipulative, addicted, vengeful, greedy, lyin’ mofos. Hint. What sort of DB would manage to hide a fraudulently acquired $5 mill and rather than let his wife get control of it he narcs himself out, they lose the money and he goes BACK to jail? Because she played him? And that’s early on🤣

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Phil, thanks for this mindful review of Stevie’s story — I agree completely.
    Normally I wouldn’t mention it, but I’m tickled pink by your “Escher-esque” description of the cover I created for Stevie. I don’t take custom work these days, but Stevie was a jewel about this cover, and I would happily work with her again. Hugs to you both.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Thanks for a solid review, Phil. I bought this book on release, but have yet to read it. (I’m not reading any books at the moment, not sure why) You have summed up pretty much what I expected it to be, and also made me want to bump it up my TBR list.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on Stevie Turner and commented:
    I’m always wary when I know I’ve got a review coming from Phil Huston. Mr Huston does not mince his words, and you know that any review he writes is an honest one. Therefore I was surprised, to say the least, to receive such a wonderful 4.5 stars for ‘Falling’. The review is long, but I hope readers can stay the course …

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That was a character tour de force. In my distant past, like 18, I worked off and on for a couple of gay guys who went from running a concession stand to a handful of small Delis and lunch joints, and the prep was almost identical, without being overly detailed. Cramped quarters. In a wheelchair. I kept hoping she’d catch a break. Or shot him after he pulled the first money stunt🤣

      Liked by 3 people

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