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Christopher Rice's Blind Fall [26 March, 2008]

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Christopher Rice

$26; Scribner; 288 pages
Christopher Rice is best known for being Anne Rice’s gay son, but he’s also the author of suspense thrillers, the fourth of which, Blind Fall, appears this month.
Set in California, the novel centers around John Houck, a returning Iraq war veteran trying to locate his former captain Mike Bowers, who nearly died saving his life. Houck finally finds Bowers, but murdered in his own bed. The man he thinks is the murderer turns out to be Bowers’s lover, Alex Martin. The two find themselves linked in their attempt to find the killer. To make matters even more complicated, Alex turns out to be the son of wealthy parents, and there are skeletons in the family closet. Hovering above all this is the fact that Alex must fight to claim Mike’s body, a right denied to him.
Rice’s prose is supple and unsentimental, with lucid and searing details about wartime and California’s lesser-known world of trailer parks and dry impoverishment. Despite the fact that it takes on large issues, Blind Fall isn’t preachy about Iraq or gay Marines, but sections where Alex tells John about growing up gay are trite and didactic. A running thread about John’s brother adds texture, but the last third of the book lurches into climactic scenes that are overdone and overspoken by characters. Alex’s mother spews lines and emotions more in keeping with an afternoon soap opera and events rush by in bewildering speed and implausibility: weapons are drawn; mayhem ensues; dead bodies proliferate. The result is that a promising novel ends up with a too-neat conclusion that turns it into something resembling a screenplay for the Gay Movie of the Week. In the end, Blind Fall stumbles from the burden of having to be a novel about gay issues, rather than the more satisfying thriller it could have been.
You can read my interview with Christopher Rice here:
Originally published in Windy City Times, 26 March, 2008.


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