John Houck became a Marine to become a hero. But his life changed when he failed to notice an explosive device that ended up maiming his captain, a respected military man who nearly sacrificed himself to save John’s life. Home from Iraq, John pays a visit to his former captain, only to discover the captain has been gruesomely murdered. John pursues a strange man he sees running from the scene, but he discovers that Alex Martin is not the murderer. Alex is, in fact, the former captain’s secret male lover and the killer’s intended next victim.
A gripping story of honor and integrity, of turning failure into victory, Blind Fall is the story of two men, one a Marine, one gay, who must unite to avenge the death of the man they both loved—one as a brother-in-arms, one as a lover—and to survive.
|Product dimensions:||6.82(w) x 4.26(h) x 0.85(d)|
About the Author
New York Times bestselling author Christopher Rice is the son of author Anne Rice and the late poet Stan Rice. He lives in Los Angeles.
Read an Excerpt
The dog was sprawled under the rear bumper of an abandoned Opel sedan, its left leg bent at an impossible angle. There was no gore to suggest that it had been run down by the car that now concealed its forequarters, so Sergeant John Houck moved in for a closer look. Then he heard the slap of bare feet hitting pavement and looked up to see someone strangely familiar running toward him down the sidewalk. His younger brother looked just as he had when he was sixteen years old, back when he and John still lived under the same roof bright freckles and narrow blue eyes crowding the bridge of his button nose, a thick cap of nappy red hair that moved like cake icing under even the toughest hairbrush. Dean Houck ran past the other men in John's recon team, past Captain Mike Bowers, who was scanning the empty doorways on the other side of the street.
Only later would John come to realize that the true definition of a ghost was a hallucination so powerful it could distract you from a task of monumental importance.
Within seconds, John became oblivious to the flies swarming the dog's carcass several yards away. He also forgot about the M-4 he held in a two-handed grip, and he no longer felt the biting snakes of sweat that slithered down his body, tracing the edges of his Kevlar vest and looking for tender spots in his groin to sink their tiny fangs into. His brother wore one of those sack dresses the boys in Iraq always wore. There was an Arabic term for them, but it was Lance Corporal Dickinson who called them "'raqi sacks." The men in his unit called him Panama Dick because he informed any Marine who would listen that his hometown of Panama City had the "prettiest goddamn motherfuckin' beaches in the whole U.S. of A." Panama Dick was walking point, as their team proceeded on foot toward a location at the town's northern border, where they had been ordered to establish a guard station, a station that the Army wusses who controlled this area were too damn lazy and disorganized to set up themselves.
Panama Dick and Lightning Mike Bowers both seemed miles away suddenly as John Houck watched his younger brother turn into a break between buildings that held an abandoned well. His brother turned his back to him, reached up, and unwound the length of rope that held the cracked bucket to the singed metal frame that arched over the well's mouth. Whip-fast, he let out the bucket's rope between both hands, bending forward to watch the bucket's progress, rising up onto the balls of his feet, which John could now see were dark brown, not the freckled, milk white shade of his dead brother's skin.
A deep clang echoed up from the well, followed by another. The boy was swinging the bucket deliberately, playing it like a bell inside the well's shaft. John felt a presence behind him suddenly; then he heard the familiar voice of Lightning Mike Bowers say his last name in a terse whisper. Bowers went silent for a few seconds as he assessed the scene in front of them.
"Shit!" Bowers hissed. Bowers realized how badly John had fucked up before John did.
The dog's impossibly bent carcass positioned conspicuously with its lower half exposed...
The boy's dark skin and tight cap of ink black hair, nothing like his younger brother's...
The expectant look in the boy's pale eyes when he looked back at them over one shoulder, his arms splayed over the opening of the well, rope clasped in his hands as the bell rang out its death knell...
And then the dog's carcass vanished in a blinding flash.
The back end of the Opel sedan rose into the air on a bed of jagged white flame. At the precise second when he expected the shrapnel to tear into him, John ate dust and felt the weight of Mike Bowers come down onto him. The blast deafened him, but he could feel Bowers's breath against his right ear, could even feel the guy's lips moving. Mike was trying to tell him something, but it had been lost to the initial explosion. Then the weight pressing down on John got heavier.
Once Bowers was pulled off him, John still found himself unable to move and deafened by the blast. Thick black smoke blinded him. In a vague way, he knew that he had no sense of time, that he was fading in and out without losing consciousness.
Something hot flowed down the back of both of his legs. Blood? Still flowing with too much force to have come off Bowers, and Bowers had been lifted off him...who knew how long ago? He could feel a deep pounding in his chest and suddenly the smoke around him started to clear. The medevac. Another sidestep into the darkness that hovers at the edges of every reality, and then he was back, pushing himself up onto his knees, struggling to his feet.
Convinced blood was pouring down his back, he grabbed furiously at his pack, pulled it down his right arm, and hurled it to the dirt at his feet. Not blood. Water! Leaking all over the place. He tore open his pack, which had searing holes all through its skin. The torn remnants of what had once been eight water bottles tumbled to the dirt, shredded by shrapnel.
Jesus, he screamed silently. Jesus Christ. Bowers was lying on my pack, for fuck's sake. If that's what happened to my pack, then what the hell happened to Bowers?
Something hot and wet filled his left eye and his vision was all but blocked. A field medic raced toward him, bandage already out. The medic pressed the bandage to the left side of John's face with one hand and forced him back down into a seated position with the other. Unable to hear his own pleas for Bowers or whatever the medic said to stave him off, he felt helpless and childlike as the medic swabbed the blood from his left eye and dressed the wound.
Then he saw the stretcher, the stretcher that carried Bowers toward the Black Hawk helicopter twenty yards away. When he rose to his feet and followed Bowers, the medic followed right beside him. John knew his own injuries weren't serious enough to merit a trip to Balad, but the medic didn't stop him, and that was good, because it meant no other injured needed the space. Inside the Black Hawk, it was just John, his medic, and the two medics cutting away the front of Bowers's blood-soaked uniform, wrapping Bowers's bloodied head in bandages.
John looked out the window, saw the other men in his team returning to the street. Some of them had fanned out in search of the triggerman, but others had stayed behind. He watched them watch the chopper take off, and he could feel the accusations in their stares.
Fifty miles north of Baghdad, the U.S. Air Force Theater Hospital occupied three dozen tents and three trailers set up on the sands of a former Iraqi Air Force base in Balad. As soon as they set down, Bowers was rushed to surgery, and the flight medic ushered John through a controlled chaos of doctors and nurses that seemed to have the professionalism and urgency of an ER at a top-flight hospital back in the States.
The doctor found two pieces of shrapnel in John's side and dug them out in no time. Unlike the medic who allowed him on the Black Hawk, he wasn't happy to be spending time on the kind of minor injuries that could have easily been dealt with at an aid station closer to the scene of the blast. John's hearing was back by then, so he asked a lot of questions about Bowers, but no one saw fit to answer any of them. Then he realized that no one at Balad knew Bowers by his last name, only by the last four digits of his Social Security number, which one of the flight medics had written in Sharpie marker on the flesh of Bowers's right arm after reading them off his dog tags.
A hefty blond nurse, probably Army by the look of her, told him patient 9260 was in surgery and would stay there for some time. A neurosurgeon had been called in and an ophthalmologist. "An eye doctor," she said when she saw the dazed expression on his face. Then she moved on, past the spot where a doctor and several nurses were trying in vain to resuscitate a young Iraqi boy who barely had any flesh left on his legs. Only blood hid the bones.
Not the kid who had alerted the triggerman for the IED that had almost taken them both out, but it could have been. Here in Balad, Americans and Iraqis were treated side by side; soldiers and insurgents alike received the same care. A day earlier, this lack of a division would have infuriated him. But given how badly he had fucked up that day, given that they were now trying to save Mike Bowers's eyes because of it, harsh judgments eluded him.
Outside, he wandered the perimeter and watched Black Hawks rise into the fading light of dusk, tried to fend off some attempts at conversation from a battered PFC in a wheelchair. The kid couldn't hide his excitement over the fact that he was leaving Iraq that night in one of the C-17 transport planes that routinely ferried the hopelessly wounded to Germany and beyond. And he had smokes, so John bummed one and pretended to listen to him talk, trying to keep his mind off the e-mail that started it all, the e-mail he read before leaving on patrol, the e-mail that had placed his little brother in the middle of Ramadi.
Mike, he thought. Make Mike the priority here. Make Mike the focus. And, of course, it was Lightning Mike Bowers's voice he heard as he thought these words. Lightning Mike, who had reached out to John, had seen a guy hanging on the periphery, doubting their mission, and had brought him into the fold. It was Lightning Mike who had explained to him, "We fight the wars presidents tell us to fight because to do otherwise would be to turn America into a Third-World nation in which rulers are casually unseated by militaries without any genuine loyalty to the countries they are formed to protect." It was Lightning Mike who had given John his dog-eared, underlined copy of Gates of Fire by Stephen Pressfield, the novel about the Spartans' last stand at Thermopylae. Every man in their unit had read the book at least twice. Bowers had memorized it.
In six short months John and Mike had become something close to brothers: two Marines who had gone for the elite Force Recon Company because it had once offered the toughest-of-the-tough a kind of independence, trained them to slip behind enemy lines far from the overbearing presence of a commanding officer. All that had changed with the invasion, when Rumsfeld had decided to surprise the Marine Corps by placing their most elite units at the very tip of the spear. Recon Marines who had been trained to be invisible found themselves manning lumbering convoys, placed at the wheel of vehicles they had never been trained to drive. Bowers had responded to this change by reaching out to the guys who had become alienated and moved to the fringes, guys like John.
After hours of pacing, John parked himself on a bench a stone's throw from the outdoor toilets, where he was lulled to sleep by the occasional hum of an armed reconnaissance drone and the footfalls of overly caffeinated doctors on break making their frequent pit stops. When he awoke there was a bright glow in the eastern sky, the kind of clear first light of dawn that reminded him of his teenage years in Southern California. He was staring up into the pale face of the blond nurse who had finally given him news of Bowers the night before. Dark circles around her eyes and flyaway hairs suggested she had worked through the night.
"Your buddy's awake," she said. She spoke to him in a ragged voice as he followed her inside. "Took a couple hours, but they removed four pieces of shrapnel from the left side of his face."
"The optha " His dry mouth was still sticky from sleep.
"The eye surgeon, you mean?"
"Yeah," she said. "His left one" for a second he thought she was mocking him, then he realized she was genuinely hesitating, considering how to deliver the blow "he lost it."
He paused where he stood but the nurse didn't notice and took a few steps before she realized he wasn't following her. She stopped and did a bad job of hiding her impatience. "Worse things have been lost here," she said. When he didn't respond, she softened. "This guy your captain?"
He wanted to tell her that Mike was more than that, much more, probably the greatest Marine John had ever met, but he could already see that she would roll her eyes, dismiss it as just some battlefield sentiment that would be forgotten as soon as they were home again, just another example of the Marine brotherhood bullshit the Army boys and girls seemed so sick of here at Balad. John started walking again, without saying anything, and she led him into a patient ward where ten occupied hospital beds ran the length of the tent. Generators hummed on the other side of the flaps, and the pull curtain had been drawn around the bed for patient 9260. John drew it back, and the nurse left him.
Bandages wrapped Mike's entire head and covered the left side of his face. A mound of what John assumed was gauze lifted the area underneath the bandages where Mike's left eye should have been. More bandage strips covered the traces of stitches along his right cheek, forehead, and jaw.
The nurse had left out that both of his legs had been broken.
There was so much attached to Bowers that was not Bowers that John almost forgot he was staring at a human being until he saw his buddy's right eye roll toward him. John prepared himself for rage, but instead Bowers did his best attempt at a smile and in a drowsy voice slurred, "They tell me I'm not a candidate for transplant surgery. Maybe if I was into collecting coins or something I'd be moved up the list. Guess it's 'cause I like to live life on the edge, you know? Kind of takes me out of the game."
In the silence that followed, John felt like shit for not having rehearsed what he needed to say. The least he could have done was laugh at this joke because that would have been polite, and given that he was to blame for the scene before him, polite would have been a nice fucking change of pace. Polite was the way Bowers effected a mild Southern accent with John so he wouldn't feel like white trash sitting next to a superior officer with a degree in classics from the University of Arizona.
Finally Mike said, "They're taking me to Germany soon, Houck. You want me to get you something? Piece of the wall, maybe?"
"Something I need to say," John whispered.
"Germany, Houck. Lots of fine gift opportunities. Speak now or forever "
"You're not getting me a fucking gift!" Humiliation flooded him when he realized he had snapped at Bowers as if he were a bad dog. But Lightning Mike just stared at the ceiling with his good eye while he tongued his chapped blood-blistered lips.
"There's something I need to say," John tried again, enunciating this time.
"No, there isn't," Bowers said. If he hadn't been bandaged and restrained, he'd probably be leaning toward John, tapping the side of his left hand into his right palm for emphasis, cleft appearing in his chin. Bowers continued, "No after-action report's going to come out of this. It was just the two of us and that boy, and if anybody asks, you just tell 'em there was still some part of you that didn't want to think they'd use kids for spotters. Maybe you knew different, but you wanted to believe different. Sound good?"
John said nothing. He felt a kind of childish anger, as if by letting him off the hook, Mike was preventing him from experiencing some crucial rite of passage, like a parent who wants his child to stay a virgin forever. But his anger wasn't enough to force him to give voice to what had truly gone down out there. There had been an e-mail, but if Mike didn't want to know about it, why should John say a word?
So he didn't tell him that barely an hour before they had left on their mission, John had read an e-mail informing him that his younger brother had committed suicide, an e-mail written by an older sister he had not spoken to in ten years. John didn't apologize for not telling Bowers this before they had geared up, before John had seen a ghost in the middle of a city already so crowded with ghosts it barely had any room to accommodate his.
But after only a few seconds the silence between them grew unbearable and John heard himself say, "Something happened back home.... I should have told you before we left on patrol. We were going through a hostile area. I should have told you I wasn't...I wasn't going to be at my best." No reaction. "My brother...he killed himself." He looked up and saw that Bowers's right eye had drifted shut. His lips were slightly parted. His chest was rising and falling with deep breaths.
His confession spoiled, John had no choice but to see the words of his sister's e-mail as they had appeared on the cracked, fingerprinted computer screen.
John, I wish there was a better way for me to do this but there doesn't seem to be. Our brother Dean took his own life on the third of this month. Is there any way for you to come home for the funeral? I will wait for as long as I can to hear back from you before I bury him.... I love you, Patsy.
John Houck wondered how long these words would have to roll back and forth in his head before they would collect enough grit and blood to seem as significant as the loss all around him.
John was asleep in the chair when they came to start preparing Bowers for his flight, and he felt a kind of dread when their motions finally forced him from the small halo of space between the curtain and the bed.
Once they were in motion, John followed close behind the flight medics, trying to see if Bowers was conscious enough to hear him, trying to see if Bowers was searching for John with his one good eye. Then they were being crowded by other traveling gurneys being pushed by other teams of flight medics, all of them filing toward the entrance to the airfield and the dull roar of jet engines. Outside, the medics pushed the gurneys past the chain-link fence at the edge of the tarmac, and one of the medics turned and held John back with an open palm.
John had hoped for a better good-bye than this.
Panic seized him, and because he could think of nothing better to say, he shouted, "Don't get me a damn thing, Mike! No gifts! Soon as we're back home, I'm going to have something for you! All right, buddy? Deal?"
Suddenly Bowers gave him a thumbs-up. John gave him a thumbs-up right back. Even though there was no way for Mike to turn around and see it, John kept his hand high as Bowers and the other patients were rolled in single file up the ramp and into the massive belly of the C-17 transport plane, its wings extending 170 feet on either side, the four jet engines attached to them powering to life.
It was the last time John Houck saw Mike Bowers alive. Copyright © 2007 by Christopher Rice
Reading Group Guide
This reading group guide for BLIND FALL includes discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Christopher Rice. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
1. When John visits Mike Bowers in the air force hospital, why does Mike offer to get John a gift in Germany? Why won’t Mike give John the opportunity to say what he went there with the intention of saying?
2. Mike is depicted through John and Alex’s stories and impressions of him. What about Mike’s character and personality do you learn from their portrayals? What is the significance of each separate instance when Mike gives John and Alex the thumbs up?
3. Why does John take it upon himself to look after Li’l D? Do you think that the author made a choice not to reintroduce Li’l D after his brief appearance toward the beginning of the book?
4. Discuss the novel’s narrative style and plotting. When did you begin to suspect who the real murderer was? When did you begin to understand all of the circumstances that surrounded the murder?
5. When Duncan and Alex are in John’s trailer, why does Alex attack John when they begin to suspect the truth as opposed to report their suspicions to the authorities?
6. Alex’s friend Philip suggests that Alex was forced to make huge sacrifices for Mike. Is there any truth in this accusation? In spite of the risks involved in their relationship, what did Alex and Mike provide for each other?
7. John is propelled by his quest for forgiveness and a deep sense of integrity. In what ways does this part of his personality impede both his relationships and his ultimate goals?
8. What roles do John’s sister Patsy and Alex each play in helping John to understand the incident between his brother Dean and Danny Oster? In the end, does John forgive Danny Oster? Does he forgive himself for what happened to Dean?
9. How did you react when you discovered the true circumstances surrounding Alex’s estrangement from his parents? Did it increase or decrease your compassion for his character? What does Alex’s mother’s vicious attack illuminate about her nature and the environment Alex grew up in?
10. Discuss Alex and John’s relationship in terms of how it develops throughout the novel. Does one character learn more or make a bigger transformation than the other? Though horribly tragic, how does Mike’s death help each of them become stronger, more tolerant, and more at peace with themselves?
11. What does the epigraph imply toward the novel’s message?
12. Discuss the novel’s title. What is its significance?
13. What statements does the author make about stereotypes and intolerance?
Enhance Your Book Club
1. Visit Christopher Rice’s website, www.ChristopherRiceBooks.com, to learn more about the author and his other books, and to read his columns for The Advocate.
2. Heroism is an important theme in Blind Fall. Share what you consider your most heroic triumph to be with the group. If you don’t believe you’ve had the chance to be a hero, discuss what would inspire you to achieve that honor.
3. Read one of the nonfiction books about Marine life that Rice mentions in his acknowledgments as a companion text.
A Conversation with Christopher Rice
Q: The prologue is a brutal depiction of the consequences of war. What sources did you rely upon in order to accurately convey the battle scene and the Air Force hospital?
A: I devoured many incredibly good nonfiction books about the Marine Corps experience in Iraq which are listed on the acknowledgments page. I also sat down with real Marines and talked with them about their experiences. But when it came to depicting the scenes inside of the U.S. Air Force Theatre Hospital at Balad, I was greatly assisted by a wonderful series of investigative pieces that appeared in the Los Angeles Times by staff writer David Zucchino. I never traveled to Iraq so the prologue was a big challenge for me. In fact, I refused to write a prologue set in Iraq until the very end of the revision process, when my editor simply demanded one. I knew he was right so I finally caved in.
Q: Your previous novel, Light Before Day, also features a Marine character. What has inspired you to focus on the Marines? What are some other literary depictions of the life of a Marine that you would recommend to an interested reader?
A: Marines have been a part of my life since I moved to California eight years ago. I’ve counted them among my friends and I’ve been romantically involved with several of them. I was immediately fascinated by the double-life gay Marines are forced to lead if they want to serve their country and I thought it would make for the perfect premise for a noir-fueled tale. Oddly enough, when it comes to other literary depictions of Marine life, I didn’t read any of them as prep for writing this novel. I stuck entirely to nonfiction because for some reason it felt like there was less of a risk that I would steal someone else’s literary voice. I was very conscious of the fact that I was an outsider trying to write about this world from an insider’s point of view so I was very picky about what I would put into my brain while I was writing the novel.
But the novel that was referenced in most of the books I read was Fields of Fire by James Webb. He’s a senator now and is largely credited with helping to reform the Marine Corps into the more disciplined environment that it is today. Rich Merrit is another writer readers might be interested in. His memoir and his novel both draw on his experiences as a gay Marine at the dawn of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy on gays in the military.
Q: Did you ever consider revealing what Alex may have done with his inheritance? Why or why not?
A: I felt very strongly that this was John’s novel. That meant, the second—not the minute, but the second—John accomplished his mission and encountered the revelation that was waiting for him at the end of it, the book had to end. I have never been more proud of anything I’ve written than I am of the final scene of Blind Fall. I had the ending in my head long before I finished the book and I was steadily working my way toward it, using it as a carrot to keep myself motivated. By the time I reached the end, I realized there was another major scene I hadn’t allowed for, and that was Alex’s reaction to learning his estranged mother has been killed. Here again, I applied the same rule. The scene wouldn’t have ultimately been about John so I let it go. You have to make these calls when you’re writing a novel, and sometimes they’re not easy. But they allow the reader to focus on the story you’re actually telling.
Q: Describe your writing process. Given that you are a thriller-writer, do you conceive of the crime first and then fill in the story with character development?
A: Usually, I start with a visual that suggests a crime and a character. With The Snow Garden, I had this image of a young woman returning to the fraternity house she lived in on a snowy college campus and opening the front door to find everyone inside of it dead and naked and sprawled out on the living room floor. With Light Before Day, it was a missing-persons flyer I kept seeing in my head, taped to a light post in West Hollywood, with the faces of three handsome young gay men on it. But Blind Fall, as well as the novel I’m working on now, were different. The character came to me first, without any visual elements attached to him.
John Houck came to me almost fully formed. And that seems to be how it works now. The character shows up first, asking to be figured out, and the crime is only important in as much as it develops that character. But I still inspire myself with visuals. I have a wall of corkboard in my office which I cover with photos and maps of settings I’m going to use. As for outlining, I struggle with it. I’ve never found that I can write a “down-to-the-last detail” outline. I usually amass just enough scene ideas to get me started.
Q: At twenty-nine, you were already the author of three New York Times bestselling novels. When did you start writing? What role did your parents, vampire novelist Anne Rice and poet Stan Rice, play in your literary development?
A: They were always very encouraging of all my creative endeavors. But if I hadn’t written A Density of Souls when I did, I might have been in serious trouble. I had dropped out of two colleges in a row, been readmitted to one of them after two years, and then moved out to L.A. on a whim instead of going back to school. So it was time for me to do something serious or we were going to have a big family discussion and it wasn’t going to be pretty. So I wrote A Density of Souls largely to give myself an outlet while my mother was recovering from a diabetic coma, but largely because I needed to finish something. My father’s reaction to the novel is what kept me from putting it in a drawer once it was done. He said, “This is going to change your life.”
Q: In addition to being a novelist, you are also a columnist for The Advocate. Is it difficult to transition between journalism and writing fiction? How does one process inform the other?
A: The Advocate columns are always a challenge for me but I find them incredibly rewarding. There’s no hiding. It has to be just you, right out in front, in seven hundred words. Ninety percent of the work I do with each column is marshaling the courage to state my honest opinion without fear of retaliation. I spent most of my early young life as a people-pleaser; my columns have been a great exercise in gradually letting that go and being who I am. But I also think learning how to state your point in just seven hundred words has helped me to focus my fiction as well. But I’ve always found it harder to write something that is shorter. Short stories literally send me for a tailspin. They’re so difficult.
Q: You are a native of California but a Southerner by blood. Although the majority of the novel is set in southern California, your protagonist, John Houck, is originally from Baton Rouge. Do you prefer one setting over the other when writing? Are there other places that you may wish to explore in future books?
A: My next novel The Moonlit Earth will use several settings throughout Southeast Asia and Hong Kong. But the main character is from California. In fact, the novel opens in Cathedral Beach, Alex Martin’s affluent hometown. But in general, I’m leery of questions like this because I find whenever I make a long-term prediction about what I’m going to write, I usually shatter it within a few months of making it. That’s why I don’t like to say very much about books I’m still working on, because there’s always a good chance the brief synopsis I provide won’t apply in a few months’ time. But I can say with confidence that California is my home now and I don’t see my work wandering too far away from it.
Q: In your acknowledgments, you thank several Marines who must remain anonymous because they are gay. How was conducting the research for and writing this book difficult? What made it rewarding?
A: This was the most “real world” research I’ve ever done, meaning I actually sat down and talked with people who were leading the lives I wanted to depict. I didn’t just pull it out of a book. But John was the first protagonist I tackled whose everyday life felt worlds away from my own, so there really wasn’t another way to do it. What’s rewarding about that kind of research is that there are beautiful accidents that happen. Your interview subjects say things they don’t think are important but which end up inspiring entire scenes. But there are rules. I’m not comfortable using things they tell me which are deeply personal, unless I get their explicit permission. I’m not out to steal someone’s story. I’m trying to add a layer of authenticity to the story I’m developing on my own. With this novel, there were moments of having my eyes opened to the realities of war that were irreversible. When one of my Marine contacts described his first kill to me, I was humbled into absolute silence.
Q: What educational programs or legislation might you hope to see enacted in order to increase tolerance within the military for homosexuality? What do you think is the best solution to put an end to the intolerance?
A: Gays and lesbians must be allowed to serve openly in the military. Period. Nothing short of that will do. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is a disgraceful policy that has ruined lives and undermined unit cohesion by creating layers of secrecy and denial within the Marine Corps. Tolerance for homosexuality within the military is as generational as it is in the outside world, meaning the younger you are, the more likely you are to be accepting of gay people. When it comes to Marines, I’m confident that any young gay man who can survive Hell Week will be able to live through the painful period of adjustment that might follow an all-out repeal on the ban.
Q: Are you currently working on another novel? If so, can you share some details about the project?
A: My next novel will be called The Moonlit Earth and as I mentioned before, it’s set largely in the town of Cathedral Beach. It’s about a young woman whose privileged life is shaken to its foundations when she’s presented with evidence that her younger brother may have been involved in a terrorist plot in Southeast Asia. And I’m going as fast I can without sacrificing quality! Many of my readers have told me they’re tired of waiting so long, so I’m hoping to have this one in front of them very soon.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Wow. Just got through reading his fourth novel. The best one yet. This is a look at the relationship between two marines, one marine's lover and the bond that is created out of circumstances that will make you sad but also overcome with emotion for the characters. An excellent work from Christopher Rice.
INTERESTING, GOES QUICKLY, LIKE JAMES PATTERSON. DIFFERENT KIND OF STORY THAN I'VE READ BEFORE. I WOULD RECOMMEND IT TO SOMEONE THAT LIKES ALL KINDS OF NOVELS.
Christopher Rice's first two books ( Snow Garden and Density of Souls) are AMAZING! I wish he would go back to his old writing style. This book was boring, I finished it but had to force myself.
I liek to read, but I don't read a lot. I picked this book for a school assignment. It was certainly different, but I really thought the story was excellent. I would recommend it anyone that likes thrilling, adventure, murder novels. This is the first book I have read by Rice, and I'm thinking of researching some others. I enjoyed this book.
Nice to read books about gay characters that aren't about being gay. Nobody gets laid, there's a very honest but not cynical image of the gay community in San Diego and three dimensional characters. Loved this book.
Feel free to find out for yourself, of course, but I found the Christopher Rice book to be dreadful. My eyes were glazing over, I started skimming pages, and then I just gave up. I guess my intuition was right...he's riding his mom's coattails. This bizarre book would never have made it to print had anyone else submitted it.
If you are jealous of this writer, you should be, as this is his fourth books and he is only 29 year-old. In this one, he has mixed Marine Corps nobility with attitude toward gays and acceptance of gays. This is a very unique and interesting mix, that make this book a page turner. The homophobia in this book and how the characters ring truth, as that is similar to the stories I heard from gays and lesbians in real life. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in story about gay in the family, and past wrong of homophobia and new found acceptance. I would watch this writer closely. I like him more than his famous mother.
i just finished blind fall and was absoloutly stunned. Christopher rice has done it again. this novel was soul-renching and sad and It was hard times and chaos brought to order in a way that left wondering , what is next . i could not put the novel down. I enjoyed this just as much as i have with everyother one of his books,. If you want a thrill rollercoaster ride this is a must read for anyone that seeks redemption and the way to go about it . i cant wait for his next novel . .
¿He had no discernable accent, which meant he was from west of the Rockies¿. How about, that¿s not at all how it works? Everyone has an accent. And people from California and Washington and Oregon have them too, anyone not from there can probably tell if they listen hard. It¿s a decent mystery (even if it does have a lot of routine Christopher Rice characters and interactions) and I do admire the author¿s ability to write from the point of view of someone who holds entirely opposite views from himself. I do not want ot spoil anything but there is also a surprise connection to one of his other books.
I have enjoyed Rice's other novels but I had a hard time withe this one.
I would love to read more. C. Rice is amazing with his detailing. Thank you
Characters so unsympathetic I could not engage. I kept at it for 100 pages... finally gave up.
It's been quite a while since I've picked up a Christopher Rice novel. Not for lack of interest -- I buy each book as it is released but then somehow they sit on the shelf. So I added Blind Fall to my 2013 "To Be Read Challenge" list. I enjoyed the book, but not as much as A Density of Souls or The Snow Garden. I hate to pigeon-hole any author; I applaud every author who moves out of the genre they've been categorized in. But I have to say, I enjoyed Rice's first two books, which were firmly rooted in the "modern gothic" genre, far more than I enjoyed Blind Fall. I think my problem with Blind Fall is that while it's a ripping good adventure yarn with tense chase and fight scenes, I didn't emotionally connect with any of the characters. I wanted to feel for John Houck as he navigates his guilt over the injury of his superior officer and over the suicide of his younger brother; I wanted to become emotionally invested in his inner journey through the discovery of his now-dead superior officer's homosexuality and the way in which he comes to see Alex Martin as more than just a mission. I just never quite felt any of that as I made my way through the book. What I did enjoy, as I said above, is the way the mysteries of Mike's death and John's brother's suicide unfold together and the way Rice stages the fight and chase scenes throughout the book. The moment I truly felt John's pain was when he was in physical pain after a particularly unexpected beat-down. Those scenes, which start with John's failure in Iraq and move to a tense stand-off in a police station, take some unexpected turns that kept me invested in the novel even when I wasn't invested in the characters.
Blind Fall by Christopher Rice The book opens in Iraq, where Sergeant John Houck, a Marine Corps’ Elite Force Recon division specialist, has been informed that his brother committed suicide. Burdened by this thought, Houck fails to protect his best friend and captain, Mike Bowers. Both men are injured, but Bowers not only saves Houck’s life, but also covers for Houck’s screw up. Back in California, nine months later, Houck decides to find Bowers to repay him the debt he owes. Unfortunately, after a lot of detective work, Houck walks into the murder scene of his best friend, Mike Bowers; and the man in the house, Alex Martin, is not the killer, and also Bowers’ male lover. Confronted with the fact that Martin is not the killer, Houck decides that he owes to his dead captain a debt: Houck has to protect Martin from the killer: captain Ray Duncan, who is trying to frame Martin for the crime. They flee and in the process Houck has to make up with his sister, Patsy, and confront the demons that surround his brother’s death. To make sure that Martin will not seek revenge against Duncan, Houck turns himself in - thus setting in motion a series of events that expose Duncan motives. Alex Martin is the son of a wealthy socialite widow, Charlotte Martin, and Duncan is her lover. Alex stands to inherit the family fortune, so to prevent the fortune from going to Alex, Duncan has decided to frame Alex. The book has a happy ending in which all the demons are pacified..... This is not Rice’s best work. I was disappointed by the narrative. It is a third person universal narrator that tells the story from John Houcke’s point of view. It was at times confusing and you could not tell who was speaking. I would have preferred several points of view to present the plot. The plot itself was not well developed and unbelievable. I was also disappointed by how “soapy” the plot turned out to be. Not one of my favorite reads....