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The Fallen

The Fallen

4.3 33
by T. Jefferson Parker

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A good cop, Robbie Brownlaw was thrown from a sixth-floor window of a downtown hotel and miraculously survived. The traumatic incident left Robbie with a fast-track career in the San Diego P.D.'s Homicide division . . . and a rare neurological condition that enables him to see people's emotional words as colored shapes—green trapezoids of envy,


A good cop, Robbie Brownlaw was thrown from a sixth-floor window of a downtown hotel and miraculously survived. The traumatic incident left Robbie with a fast-track career in the San Diego P.D.'s Homicide division . . . and a rare neurological condition that enables him to see people's emotional words as colored shapes—green trapezoids of envy, red squares of deception . . .

Another good man lies dead in a blood-splattered Ford Explorer—an ex-cop-turned-ethics investigator whose private life was torn open by unthinkable tragedy. Whether Garrett Asplundh's death was suicide or murder isn't immediately apparent—but it's soon clear to Robbie and his smart, tough partner, McKenzie Cortez, that Garrett had hard evidence of sex, scandal, and corruption spreading deep into local government. But pursuing the truth could prove more emotionally devastating than Robbie ever imagined.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
T. Jefferson Parker's crime fiction thriller revolves around a cop with a rare neurological condition called synesthesia -- where senses become transposed (emotions are perceived as colors, smells invoke sounds, etc.). Years after being chucked out of a sixth-floor hotel window -- and barely surviving -- San Diego homicide detective Robbie Brownlaw is faced with a murder case that will not only uncover widespread corruption among the city's political elite but also force him to utilize a medical condition that up until this point has been perceived as an affliction.

At first the case of Garrett Asplundh, a former police officer in Internal Affairs who was found dead in his car near San Diego's Cabrillo Bridge, is thought to be a suicide; but Brownlaw quickly rules that out and begins digging into the man's sad and secretive past. Struggling to cope with the tragic death of his three-year-old daughter and the subsequent disintegration of his marriage, Asplundh also had to deal with the hundreds of enemies he made while working for Internal Affairs. But the closer Brownlaw and his partner, McKenzie Cortez, come to unmasking the killer, the closer they come to their own untimely deaths…

Aside from the intriguing narrative element of synesthesia -- famous synesthetes include Vladimir Nabokov, Nikola Tesla, Eddie Van Halen, and Jimi Hendrix -- Parker's brilliantly realistic and sympathetic portrayal of Brownlaw as well as his subtle use of metaphor throughout make this a fascinating, fast-paced read that is virtually impossible to put down. Paul Goat Allen
Publishers Weekly
At the dramatic start of Parker's excellent 13th novel (after 2004's California Girl), San Diego homicide detective Robbie Brownlaw suffers a head trauma that causes his senses to get mixed up. The sounds of conversations, for example, are accompanied by colored shapes that reflect the speakers' emotions. But the confusion turns into an asset, as it helps Brownlaw recognize when suspects and witnesses are lying to him-and he encounters lots of falsehoods when he begins investigating the case of Garrett Asplundh, shot dead while waiting for a meeting with his estranged wife. As an investigator for the San Diego Ethics Authority Enforcement Unit, Asplundh had uncovered a widespread corruption scandal-and unleashed plenty of enemies, including city officials, a financier and a purveyor of high-priced call girls. The suspense is palpable as Brownlaw and his partner, McKenzie Cortez, work to identify Asplundh's killer, but the novel probes deeper mysteries, such as the victim's tragic life and Brownlaw's disintegrating marriage. With his trademark psychological acuity and empathy, Parker creates a world of fully realized characters coping with obsession and loss. The winner of two Edgars for best novel, Parker could well earn a third with this compelling effort. 6-city author tour. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Robbie Brownlaw was an ordinary member of the San Diego Police Department until he was tossed out a sixth-floor window at the Las Palmas Hotel. His survival, and the minor celebrity status that followed, helped propel him through a series of promotions to become the youngest homicide detective on the SDPD. Garrett Asplundh was also a member of the SDPD, rising to the rank of investigator for the city's Ethics Authority Enforcement Unit. Personal tragedies haunted Asplundh and led to his apparent suicide at the same landmark bridge where he had proposed to his now-estranged wife. Brownlaw is assigned to investigate Asplundh's death and discovers that the ethics investigator had stumbled upon dirty secrets about some of the city's highest-ranking civic leaders-secrets that may have led to his murder. Parker's (Laguna Heat) 13th novel provides a nice blend of hard-boiled police procedures and an intimate look at the lives of the men and women behind the badges, although keeping up with the large cast of characters can be challenging. Recommended for most fiction collections.-Ken Bolton, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Absorbing suspense novel about a young homicide cop to whom everyone speaks in colors. Robbie Brownlaw is a synesthete. When people talk to him, he sees their voices as colored shapes: blue ovals for sincerity, yellow rhomboids for love, red squares for deception. He wasn't always this way; it happened after he was shoved out of a hotel window, falling six floors but somehow not to his death. Now he has an unerring, built-in lie detector, though it prompts a certain uneasiness that's led him to keep his gift a secret. When the dead body of high-profile cop Garrett Asplundh is discovered, however, Robbie knows he can use all the special help available. Asplundh was lead investigator for the San Diego Ethics Authority Enforcement Unit, which means it was his job to keep a watchful eye over city leadership-which means, of course, that he had ample opportunity to worry the daylights out of powerful people who, when questioned by Robbie, unleash barrages of tell-tale red squares. Then there's Stella, Asplundh's beautiful, much-adored widow, whose "black and shiny eyes" could-and did-make men behave unethically. This kind of complex, difficult case would ordinarily elicit from Robbie the single-minded attention that's made him the fast-tracker he is. At present, however, he's distracted by trouble at home. He loves his wife as much as Asplundh did Stella, but these days when he's listening to her and, more to the point, watching her as she speaks, he does not see yellow rhomboids. Deftly plotted, gracefully written and, as usual with this savvy veteran (California Girl, 2004, etc.), it's the lead character you pay your money for. Robbie is another in Parker's growing gallery of wonderfullysympathetic heroes.
Rocky Mountain News
“An entirely engrossing and unforgettable tale.”
San Diego Union-Tribune
“A good story well told by a gifted writer at the top of his game.”
Washington Post
“(Parker) writes with intelligence, style and sensitivity, and he belongs…in the first rank of American crime novelists.”
Sunday Denver Post
“A wonderful story with compassionate characters, plenty of action, thoughtful deduction and a shocking rationale for murder.”
Chicago Tribune
“T. Jefferson Parker could well be the best crime writer working out of Southern California.”
Pittsburgh Tribune
“Lively well-paced writing.…A cut above the average mystery fare.”
“Parker’s best to date.…Very highly recommended.”
Toronto Star
“Smart and thrilling...Parker has imagination to burn...Crisp and elegant sentences keep the pages turning.”
Orlando Sentinel
“Delivers on all levels, as a mystery and a study of the depths of cruelty to which people can sink.”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 7.50(h) x 1.40(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Fallen

A Novel
By T. Parker

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright ©2006 T. Parker
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060562382

Chapter One

My name is Robbie Brownlaw, and I am a Homicide detective for the city of San Diego. I am twenty-nine years old. My life was ordinary until three years ago when I was thrown out of a downtown hotel window.

No one knows it except my wife, but I now have synesthesia, a neurological condition where your senses get mixed up. Sometimes when people talk to me, I see their voices as colored shapes. It happens when they get emotional. The shapes are approximately two by two inches and there are usually between four and eight of them, sometimes more. They linger in the air midway between the speaker and me, about head high. They fade quickly. I can move them with my finger or a pen if I want.

Shortly after my fall I used graph paper and colored markers to make a chart of which words and word combinations triggered which colored shapes. This was time-consuming and not always pleasant, due to some very painful headaches. I also observed that blue triangles generally came from a happy speaker. Red squares came from a deceptive one. Green trapezoids usually came from someone who was envious -- green really is the color of envy, just like we were always told.

But as the weeks went by, I noticed that identical words and sentences couldsometimes trigger very different shapes and colors. I was afraid that I had posttraumatic swelling in my brain and worried that my synesthesia would worsen to the point where I'd spend the rest of my life drooling at invisible shapes while people tried to talk to me.

I spoke my fears to Gina one night and noticed that when she told me I "shouldn't worry about it," her words came to me as the black triangles of dread. I looked them up on my chart just to make sure. It was then that I began to understand that the colorful shapes are provoked by the emotions of the speaker, not by the words themselves.

So I have what amounts to a primitive lie detector, though I'm not certain how reliable it is. I think a remorseless psychopath could fool me, or even an accomplished liar. Who knows what colors and shapes they might cause? In my line of work, people will lie to you about the smallest and most trivial things.

Synesthesia is considered a gift by synesthetes -- the people who have it -- but I'm not convinced that it is. There's a San Diego Synesthesia Society, and for over a year now I've been thinking about going to a meeting. I browse their Web site and note the date and time of the next meeting, but I've never attended one. I'm curious, but a little afraid of what I might discover. The condition is hard for me to talk about, even with Gina. Although she's tolerant and wonderfully opinionless about how others view the world, it annoys her that even her white lies announce themselves to me as bright red squares. It would annoy me, too.

When I was thrown out of the window I hit hard. You have no idea how hard cement really is until you land on it from six stories up, even if your fall is largely broken by a canvas awning. During the fall I came to believe in God. It is true what they say about your life flashing past when you believe that you are about to die, but it is not your entire life. Obviously. I should have died, but only a few bones broke, and I'm in perfect shape again, other than the large scar on the back of my head, now hidden by hair, and the synesthesia.

One benefit I got from that fall was two very quick promotions. As soon as I proved I was in great health and could do the job, doors opened right up. From Fraud to Sex Crimes to Homicide just like that. Everyone expected me to die from the fall. All of the media coverage made the department want to reward its unlikely hero. The reporters nicknamed me "the Falling Detective." And my superiors sincerely felt that I deserved a little something extra for all I'd been through. Anyway, I'm the youngest detective in Homicide, but nobody seems to resent me for it. I'm part of Team Four. Our case-cancellation rate last year, 2004, was eighty-eight percent, which is considered excellent.

I got the call from our lieutenant at four that morning. An anonymous caller had tipped us to a body in a car near Balboa Park. Patrol had confirmed a black Ford Explorer parked in the trees near the Cabrillo Bridge, which spans Highway 163. The lieutenant told me there was a man slumped dead in the driver's seat. Blood, sidearm on the floorboard, probable gunshot.

I called my partner, McKenzie Cortez, then poured a cup of coffee. I sat for a minute on the bedside in the dark, snugged up the sheets around Gina and kissed her.

In the weak light of the breakfast nook I wrote her a note saying I'd be careful and I loved her. Spouses worrying about their loved ones getting killed on the job is what ruins a lot of cop marriages. And I like Gina to have something nice to wake up to. She works as a hairdresser at Salon Sultra downtown, which is top of the line. She cut Mick Jagger's hair when the Stones played L.A. not long ago. Just a trim, actually. Mick flew her up to his hotel in Beverly Hills in a helicopter. Paid a thousand for the cut and gave her another five hundred for a tip.

The drive from my house in Normal Heights took twelve minutes. It was a cool, clear March morning. There had been rain the night before, more than enough to leave shallow black puddles along the freeway. The stars were bright in the sky and the . . .


Excerpted from The Fallen by T. Parker Copyright ©2006 by T. Parker. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

T. Jefferson Parker is the bestselling author of fourteen previous novels, including Storm Runners and The Fallen. Alongside Dick Francis and James Lee Burke, Parker is one of only three writers to be awarded the Edgar Award for Best Novel more than once. Parker lives with his family in Southern California.

Brief Biography

Fallbrook, California
Date of Birth:
December 26, 1953
Place of Birth:
Los Angeles, California
B.A. in English, University of California-Irvine, 1976

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Fallen 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
aquilagold More than 1 year ago
I plucked a surprise off the library shelf. I didn't know the author and it looked like just another cop/mystery - a book on tape to pass the miles. From the first words it plopped me in the middle of San Diego's seamy, political underbelly. This is a work of fiction but the author didn't have to use much imagination, he just put fictional characters in a bag of real-life headlines shook it and served it up. It makes you think twice about living in a corrupt city that sweeps its garbage under a beautiful carpet to keep the public image of paradise. With the book you get two-for-one - pulp fiction escapism and a cautionary tale.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was looking forward to reading my first T. Jefferson Parker novel especially as it came so highly rated with unanimous 5 stars. To me, the book was a yawn. I didn't care about the protagonist, the victim nor any of the characters in between. There was no action, no suspense, no drive. I didn't care who did it. I'm glad this was a bargain book. There's plenty of other great books out there. Pass on this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Looks around sadly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He runs in. "Azula?! Are you here?! Yia!" He exclaims, running over to his daughter. "Im so glad you are here..."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I hav info. Bloodclan will raid blizzardclan tonight
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Help me destroy Jag
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why...* she hangs her head*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TexasCowboy More than 1 year ago
A complete story, but it leaves you wanting more. You will want to see if the primary person in the book will appear in a sequil.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this novel, it was a great mystery. The main character, Robbie Brownlaw, was one the best characters I've read about this year. The mystery itself, the murder of an ethics cop, was top-notch. The minor characters were real and vibrant just like Robbie's color that he saw due to his systhensia. His gift/illness makes him a better detective and he needs it with all the twists and turns that this murders takes. The ending surprised me but it was a great read.
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
Two-time Edgar Award winner T. Jefferson Parker (California Girl, Cold Pursuit, Black Water) well knows how to pen a can't-put-down mystery. His psychological insights serve to flesh out his characters, rendering them believable, next door real. With The Fallen we meet Robbie Brownlaw, a San Diego homicide detective, who suffers (or benefits, as the case may be) from synesthesia, a neurological disorder that enables him to not just hear voices but see the speaker's emotions by means of colored shapes. For instance, when someone talks to him he may not only hear words but also see a yellow square, a red circle, etc. Thus, he is quite able to tell whether a person is telling the truth or not. He has what he refers to as a primitive lie detector. He's assigned to investigate the death of Garrett Asplundh, an apparent suicide. But. Brownlaw and his partner, McKenzie Cortez don't buy this explanation. Asplundh had left the San Diego Police Department to become an ethics investigator, looking into the activities of city employees. Despite the fact that he'd recently suffered a great personal loss, why would Asplundh take his own life. More likely it was murder, but who and why? Parker limns San Diego as few can. Voice performer David Colacci has a host of audio books to his credit. As he puts it, narrating is 'the opportunity to totally live in the world of the story.' And, that is the gift he gives his listeners. Sit back and enjoy! - Gail Cooke
Guest More than 1 year ago
Synkinesia has many forms. After being thrown out a 6th story window, Robbie Brownlaw survives and now has the ability to see words accompanied by colors and shapes. Red squares indicate deceptive lies, green triangles envy, yellow happiness. This is particularly useful in his job as a homicide detective as he investigates the death of an ethics inspector and and attempts to separate truth from deceit both in his professional and crumbling personal life. An excellent story with strong characters and a nimble plot. The neurological condition of synkinesia is fascinating and Parker does not belabor it in this story but uses it as a very unique tool to advance his tale. I highly recommend this book to all.
harstan More than 1 year ago
San Diego homicide detective Robbie Brownlaw suffers a head injury that causes his senses to go out of whack. He suddenly can see the colors of someone¿s emotions when he or she speaks. Adjusting to his new world is not easy until he begins logically to work out the patterns. Soon Brownlaw becomes adept at reading people especially knowing when they lie.------ Back on the job, he and his partner, McKenzie Cortez investigate the murder of San Diego Ethics Authority Enforcement Unit investigator Garrett Asplundh, who was executed while waiting to meet with his estranged wife. Apparently Asplundh discovered major corruption amongst government officials and local financiers that made the investigator a prime target with numerous enemies all whom were motivated to see the victim eliminated. Robbie and McKenzie wonder who would actually resort to homicide.------ This is a terrific police procedural starring a cop recovering from a terrible head trauma adjusting to a radical change in his senses while also struggling in his failing relationship with his wife. The story line strikes a fabulous balance as the investigation provides insight into the victim¿s not so stellar life and into the Brownlaw¿s personal side to include his wife and his sensorial adaptation on top of a strong inquiry. Far from falling, T. Jefferson Parker is rising to the top of the sub-genre with his latest Brownlaw case.------ Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The lion cub.....i forget how to spell his name ill know by tomorrow
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The pretty lioness pads in. A gazzelle in her jaws as and offering to the pride. May I join? She asks her brown eyes glowing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bound in. 'Himynameismary!ilikezebras!doyoulikezebras?huhhuhhuh?'((im not gone but am making a new lion because i wasnt that active i had too many rps and i am trying to restore my activeness to what it was. ~kishans rper)) P.S red...hornet... in ... my...room...AAAAAAAAAA
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ryuu woke up, shaking his head. "No, not them! Not them!" He whispered, his fur and eyes darkening. His eyes started to turn red, but he managed to fight it, pushing it down to only tinted red. His fur darkened, but unlike his eyes, he was unable to stop it. He looked at his fur, then his eyes widened when he saw how black he was. "No. No. Nononono." He murmered. He looked to the sun, thn knew what he had to do. He raced out of camp, to a cliff above a wild river. [Result 3] <br> <p> I'll post an explanation very soon...my results are different then yours, I am sure, but it is a book with a territory marker... <br> <p> ~Ryuu
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yia you should post more adds.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He mewled in protest, buried benath a mound of cub fur.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walks in
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The lioness pads in.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Arctic screeches," I have an announcement to make!" <p> Sea rolls her eyes at Arctic's news. <p> Sunny looked at Arctic and surpressed a scream. <p> Edide ate buffalo leg and looked up.