Cover image for The fallen [a novel]
The fallen [a novel]
Parker, T. Jefferson.
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Publication Information:
Grand Heaven, MI : Brilliance, [2006]

Physical Description:
9 audio discs (approximately 11 hr.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
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Subtitle from container.

Compact discs.
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Audiobook on CD


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

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 provoked by the emotions of the speakers, not by the words themselves. I have what amounts to a primitive lie detector. After three years, I don't pay a whole lot of attention to the colors and shapes of other people's feelings, unless they don't match up with their words.

When Garrett Asplundh's body is found under a San Diego bridge, Robbie Brownlaw and his partner, McKenzie Cortez, are called on to the case. After the tragic death of his child and the dissolution of his marriage, Garrett--regarded as an honest, straight-arrow officer--left the SDPD to become an ethics investigator, looking into the activities of his former colleagues. At first his death, which takes place on the eve of a reconciliation with his ex, looks like suicide, but the clues Brownlaw and Cortez find just don't add up. With pressure mounting from the police and the city's politicians, Brownlaw fights to find the truth, all the while trying to hold on to his own crumbling marriage. Was Garrett's death an "execution" or a crime of passion, a personal vendetta or the final step in an elaborate cover-up?


Robbie Brownlaw is an ordinary cop in San Diego, until a push from a sixth-floor hotel room changes everything. Now he sees little colored shapes when people speak, a form of the neurological condition known as synesthesia. Linked to the speaker's emotions, this primitive lie-detector leads him to uncover some of the city's nastiest secrets.

Author Notes

Novelist T. Jefferson Parker was born in Los Angeles, California in 1953. He earned a bachelor's degree in English from the University of California, Irvine, in 1976, and initially worked as a reporter for a weekly newspaper. While writing for the Daily Pilot, he won three Orange County Press Club Awards.

His first novel, Laguna Heat, was made into an HBO movie starring Harry Hamlin, Jason Robards and Rip Torn. His other works include The Triggerman's Dance, Where Serpents Lie, The Blue Hour, Red Light, and Cold Pursuit. Silent Joe and California Girl won the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Award for Best Novel in 2002 and 2005 respectively. Silent Joe also received the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Best Mystery/Thriller.

When not working on his books, Parker spends his time with his family, hiking, hunting and fishing, and playing tennis. He enjoys diving, snorkeling, and travel. (Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

Robbie Brownlaw was just another San -Diego police officer until a fall from a sixth-story hotel window literally changed his perspective on life. Three years later, he still suffers from synesthesia, a neurological condition that jumbles his senses and often makes others' emotionally charged utterings appear to him as colored shapes (red represents deception; yellow equals fear). I have what amounts to a primitive lie detector, Brownlaw says in the opening chapter of Parker's deft new thriller, though I'm not sure how reliable it is. When Garrett Asplundh, an upstanding former cop now part of a city watchdog group, is found shot dead in his car, Brownlaw dives headfirst into the case. He quickly becomes entangled in a world of corrupt local politicians, prostitutes, madams, and johns. Meanwhile, Brownlaw has problems of his own: his wife, Gina, has left him, and he must decide whether to pursue her or let her go. This is the thirteenth crime novel for Parker, a native Southern Californian whose long list of awards includes the Edgar and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His dialogue crackles and pops in an intricate and well-paced tale set in a city where shadowy characters lurk beneath sunny skies. --Allison Block Copyright 2006 Booklist

Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



The Fallen A Novel 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 could sometimes 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 . . . The Fallen A Novel . Copyright © by T. Parker. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from The Fallen by T. Jefferson Parker All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.