Fall from Grace

Fall from Grace

4.5 7
by Clyde Phillips

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When David Perry confides the sordid details of his bitter divorce to a sympathetic stranger, he never imagines the nightmare he would unleash. Now his socialite wife is dead, brutally murdered by a man who will stop at nothing to get what he wants.…

Veteran San Francisco homicide detective Jane Candiotti never allows her personal feelings to interfere

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When David Perry confides the sordid details of his bitter divorce to a sympathetic stranger, he never imagines the nightmare he would unleash. Now his socialite wife is dead, brutally murdered by a man who will stop at nothing to get what he wants.…

Veteran San Francisco homicide detective Jane Candiotti never allows her personal feelings to interfere with the job—until Jenna Perry is found strangled in the hills of Marin County. Now to uncover the truth, Jane must dig into the secrets of the city’s most powerful families, a hunt that will draw her inextricably closer to David and his young daughter…and to the cold-blooded killer stalking their every move.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
An encounter on San Francisco's BART leads to murder in TV veteran Phillips's enthralling debut thriller. Depressed by his impending divorce from Pacific Heights heiress Jenna Maxwell Perry, 39-year-old lawyer David Perry confides in lowlife auto mechanic Barton Hubble, who takes it on himself to make Perry a rich man, even if it means killing Jenna. When Perry refuses to acknowledge the favor, Hubble stalks him and his teenage daughter, Lily. Detective Jane Candiotti, pushing 40, is put on the case. Coming off a fading romance of her own, Candiotti begins an amorous entanglement with Perry that compromises her investigation of Jenna's murder and puts her own life at risk. The debt to Hitchcock is obvious, and, like the master, Phillips makes maximum use of regional detailschief (maybe too chief) among them is the Golden Gate Bridge. Also in the Hitchcock manner, the end comes with a double surprise that provides a powerful resolution to the novel's tense action sequences and gathering suspense. (May)
Kirkus Reviews
A greedy killer hitches his wagon to an acquaintance's fat inheritance, in TV writer Phillips's TV-ish first novel. Like Barton Hubble, Phillips follows the moneyþthe $65 million fortune that San Francisco attorney Graham Maxwell's amassed over his career. When a fatal plane crash (secretly engineered by a perfidious mechanic) turns that fortune into a lavish estate that Maxwell's daughter, Jenna Perry, will share with her husband David, Phillips puts the screws to their marriage: David catches Jenna cheating and walks out; Jenna threatens to cut off his visitation rights to Lily, the 13-year-old daughter he adores; David accuses Jenna of using Lily to pressure him into a financial settlement. Enter Hubble, a car mechanic who insinuates himself into David's life, hears about the troubles David's having at home, then obligingly goes out and kills the little woman. Just a favor for a friend, he tells David when he phones to get his blackmail threat rolling: Unless David comes across with a cool $5 million, Hubble, who's obviously seen Strangers on a Train, will plant evidence on the murder scene that'll have the cops hot on David's trail. The plan is diabolical, but Hubble isn't, because his penny-dreadful threats (he'll tip off the cops, he'll find a way to get close to Lily) are constantly getting upstaged by the torrid romance David has kindled with Inspector Jane Candiotti, who prefers his embraces to those of her dependable, boring partner Kenny Marks. As Hubble fumes in the background, David and Jane enjoy romantic trysts overlooking great Bay Area sights and, from time to time, fret over the mounting body count. Knowledgeable fans of the psychokiller genre will seethe single surprise in this familiar scenario a long way off; the target audience most likely to be surprised might just as well wait for the inevitable telemovie, which won't have any trouble condensing the story to two hours.

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Product Details

Thomas & Mercer
Publication date:
Jane Candiotti and Kenny Marks Series, #1
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The dozen or so commuters squinted against the setting sun as they crossed the Monterey Airport tarmac. American Eagle Flight 6, a twin-prop twenty-seater, sat waiting for them, its baggage bay open.

Graham Maxwell paused to let a young couple hand their suitcases off to the baggage handler and hurry up the steps. He had noticed in the terminal that the woman was newly pregnant, just beginning to show, and he remembered back years ago to when he too was an expectant father.

Life was full of promise then, the wonder of the unknown casting an intoxicating spell on him and his wife, Dorothy. A decade had passed since Dorothy died, and now that she was gone, Graham Maxwell was no longer a man in a hurry. He turned his wedding ring unconsciously with his thumb, worrying it like a rosary.

Passing his overnighter to the baggage worker, Graham started up the steps of the little plane. Glancing back, he saw the airline employee roughly toss his expensive leather suitcase into the belly of the aircraft and look at him defiantly.

Breaking off the silent confrontation, Graham's eyes moved to the man's feet, where he saw that the sole of the baggage handler's right work boot was five inches thick, his balance dependent upon a wide black band of wood and rubber.

Maybe, Graham thought, that is why he's so angry.

Ducking his head to enter the plane, Graham Maxwell paused to study his fellow passengers. The pregnant couple was seated in the rear left, the woman's head resting against her husband's shoulder, both already dozing. A young Hispanic woman traveling with an old man listened intently as he spoke softly into her ear.

"Sí,abuelo. Sí," she said, and Graham knew that this man was her grandfather. His thoughts went to his granddaughter, Lily, teetering on the balance beam between serious little girl and uncertain teenager.

Moving forward, crouching a bit under the low ceiling, he passed a family of four. The children, miniature versions of their parents from coloring to clothing, sat across the aisle from each other, the younger boy stubbornly refusing to fasten his seat belt.

Near the front right, Graham found a vacant aisle seat and, with a nod to the young grad student at the window, sat down. Through the open cockpit door, he watched the pilots work through their preflight checklist, pushing buttons and toggling switches with practiced precision. After a short while, one of them clicked the door closed and the plane began to taxi forward.

The pilot's voice scratched over the intercom. "Good news, folks. We're number one for takeoff and we should be in the city a couple of minutes early this evening. So sit back and enjoy the flight. We'll have you home in no time."

With a potent surge, the plane leaped forward, took the wind, and banked gracefully past the ebbing sun. Its right side dipping into the northward turn toward home, American Eagle Flight 6, a lone bird with sixteen souls under her wings, carried her precious cargo past the last sunset of their lives.

All along the left side of the aircraft, passengers slid the plastic shades down for relief from the still-penetrating sun. Graham Maxwell pushed back in his seat and crossed his legs, inadvertently brushing the calf of his seatmate.

"Sorry," he apologized. "Not much legroom on these things."

The young man looked over and smiled.

Graham extended his hand. "I'm Graham Maxwell."

"The lawyer?"

Graham nodded.

"The Graham Maxwell who brought the Subway Commission to its knees for negligence on the environmental impact survey?"

A flicker of pleasure crinkled Graham's eyes. That had been a huge and satisfying victory for him. "Well, we had a powerful ally on that one."

"Which was?"

"The law. We happened to be right."

The young man chewed on this for a reflective beat, then reached over and shook Graham's hand. "Zach. Zach Saltzman. Third year at Boalt."

Graham smiled to himself. A law student. Of course.

"Who knows?" Zach shrugged, "I may be calling you someday for a job."

"Who knows?" Graham agreed. He made up his mind that if this fellow could muster the confidence to ask for an interview, he would grant him one.

The plane droned on, the passengers settling in.

After a while, Zach turned to Graham. "Excuse me, Mr. Maxwell. I don't mean to intrude. And I don't want you to feel ambushed here, but I would really appreciate it if..."

The plane suddenly and violently stuttered, as if its engines, for the briefest of moments, had lost their breath. The passengers looked around nervously, fear setting in. The pregnant woman startled awake; the young Latina took her grandfather's hand.

But the plane regained its momentum, slipping along once again on its soft cushion of air.

"I hate these things," Zach said, a frown creasing his lips.

Graham nodded his assurance. "We'll be all right."

The plane lurched again, impossibly stopping in midair. Then, as screams of terror filled the cabin like a flame, the tiny craft rolled to the right and began to drop like an injured bird. Magazines and briefcases and the little boy who wouldn't fasten his seat belt were all sent pummeling forward.

The sharply sloping perspective out the cockpit windshield revealed the severity of the pitch as the pilots struggled to control their wounded aircraft.

"This is American Eagle Six. We're having a problem here," the pilot called into his headset.

"Engine one is flamed! Two's failing!" the copilot yelled.

And then, with one last sickening jolt, the plane surrendered its tentative hold on any hope of survival and yawed forward into an irreversible nosedive. "This is American Eagle Six. We're going in," the pilot said.

The copilot crossed himself. "Shit."

Graham Maxwell, his face tight with fear and resignation, looked over to Zach Saltzman just as the young man was vaulted from his seat and thrown into the bulkhead. Graham brought his left hand to his mouth and kissed his wedding ring, thinking not of himself or his daughter or his granddaughter; willing himself to have the last image in his mind be only of his wife.

"Soon now, Dorothy," he whispered. "Soon."

Copyright © 1998 by Clyde Phillips

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What People are saying about this

William Diehl
"Hold your breath, Clyde Phillip's unique thriller is a dazzling first novel that moves at warp speed from page one to a breath-taking finally. It's one hell of a ride."
Dennis Lehane
"Fall From Grace is a deftly plotted first novel with the pace of a hurricane and the impact of an earthquake. All but impossible to put down."

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Fall from Grace 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a college student with very little time to read books for fun. I have not ever been a person that would read a lengthy book, especially a 400+ pager. Immediately from the beginning I was taken and never put the book down. This book is captivating and enriching. I spent hour after hour trying to see what would happen next. At the time of reading this book, I was going through a lot in my life. Fall from grace is the book that picked me up and made me realize that whatever the problem is, God is still in control. This book aided in renewing my relationship with Christ. As a college student it is very hard to walk that straight and narrow, but Fall from grace allowed me to realize that I am not doing this alone. I recommend this book to anyone. It is an easy read and I promise you will not be dissapointed. I only wish there was a part II.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like the way the forgiveness brought them all back together again. It was a good, relaxing read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have just finished reading this book for the 2nd time in less than 2 months. I fell in love with Mike & Grace's characters in the first novel and decided to re-read both books. Ms. Phillips has an awesome gift of story-telling. She describes realistic dilemnas facing Christians and gives practical advice on how to get right with God, without sounding 'preachy.' Excellent Read! A must have!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is an exceptional read because the characters life experiences are similar to that of real Christians. It's inspiring and makes one consider his/her own walk with God and how life situations can make one fall from grace.
Beeshon More than 1 year ago
This was a very enjoyable mystery novel by Dale Philips. Zack Taylor is enlisted by his girlfriend, Allison, to help her cousin, Bonnie, who has been wrongly accused of murdering her boss. It would seem, however, that she has been made a scapegoat. There are plenty of potential suspects from the list of family members and business associates, all with compelling motives, but the police seem hell-bent on looking the other way and opting for the easy way out: Bonnie had motive enough and that was that. Zack gets the bit between his teeth – he knows injustice when he sees it and does his utmost to clear Bonnie’s name; the minefield of corruption, greed, infidelity, revenge, fraud, selfishness, and sex that he uncovers leaves no doubt at all that she is completely innocent. This is the second book in the Zack Taylor series – I have not read the first yet – but I was instantly smitten. I was drawn into the action instantly and Zack is easily likeable, if not somewhat captivating – he is loyal, compassionate, determined and focused. His investigations result in considerably more than a black eye on more than one occasion, but he remains undeterred – sadly at some personal and emotional cost. This was a well-written mystery, well-paced and well-constructed. The baddies ranged from unscrupulous to abhorrently violent – an excellent contrast to those who are and become close to Zack. I finished the book with mixed feelings. I was sad to not be able to turn another page with Zack on it, but consoled by the fact that I will bump into him again in Book One, A Memory of Grief, and Book Three, A Shadow on the Wall. Highly recommended.