Two-time Edgar Award winner T. Jefferson Parker (California Girl, Silent Joe) is back with his thirteenth novel, The Fallen. Well on his way to earning his third Edgar Award for this riveting novel, Parker once again features San Diego detective Robbie Brownlaw. The dramatic prologue explains the circumstances of how Robbie Brownlaw got his synesthesia, a condition where Robbie can see shapes and colors reflecting people’s emotions when they talk, giving him sort of a homemade lie detector.
A hotel is set ablaze by a distraught pro wrestler, and Robbie goes in to save as many people as he can - until he runs into this wrestler, who puts him in a bear hug and throws him out the sixth floor window. Robbie survives the fall by landing on an awning, but the blow to the head gives him his newfound ability. This aspect of the book – the synesthesia – doesn’t feel gimmicky because the mystery is really compelling all on its own, and T. Jefferson Parker writes it in a way that it isn’t fantastical. Readers won’t even pay attention to the fact that he has this ability; I was really into the whole murder mystery/police procedural part of the story.
The Fallen quickly gets into the main bulk of the story on the heels of that exciting opening. Robbie Brownlaw gets the call for a man found shot dead in his car. Turns out the victim is San Diego Ethics Authority Enforcement agent Garret Asplundh. Brownlaw soon discovers that Asplundh had uncovered a tremendous amount of corruption with city officials that tied into a prostitution ring and the city budget of San Diego. There is a real palpable sense of suspense and intrigue as Brownlaw and his partner, Cortez, work to find Asplundh’s killer. It’s what really draws you into the story, even more so than the theme of coping with loss and obsession; for Brownlaw, it is the disintegrating relationship with his wife Gina. Overall, a top-notch thriller that will satisfy any mystery buff’s palate.