Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Boy Fallen by Chris Gill

Boy Fallen
by Chris Gill
Published March 22, 2022 by PRNTD Publishing

When the body of wealthy teen and aspiring photographer Evan Wiley is found faceup at the base of Taonga Falls, one thing is immediately clear: he didn’t jump.

Detective Brooke Palmer races down to the struggling New Zealand town she once called home to comfort her oldest friend – Evan’s mother.

But when Brooke learns Evan had been hanging out with a boy who used to bully him, she quickly gets drawn into the case. She fears this dangerous new friendship may have cost Evan his life – or at the very least, his heart.

And as Brooke confronts her own past, she is reminded that in Taonga, even those who have it all can hit rock bottom.

A gripping whodunnit through a fresh lens, Boy Fallen will keep you guessing until the very end.

4 Stars

Evan Wiley is found dead and the talk of the town is that it's a copy cat of young Jack's death nearly twenty years ago. Brooke, older sister of Jack and best friend to Lana, Evan's mother, return to town to pay her respects, but is soon swept up in the case. Alongside the assigned inspector, Brooke and Collins take a walk in Evan's shoes in the prior months leading to his death. He was coming to terms with his identity and finding his footing after years of bullying. Brooke sees herself in Evan and uses her previous experiences of bullying and the loss of her brother to fuel her to find Evan's killer.

While it's easy to classify Boy Fallen as an LGBTQ+ mystery, it's more of a police procedural with a coming of age story within. Evan Wiley is gone, but the real story is the journey he was on leading up to his death. He had friends and he was discovering his identity, something the small town of Taonga always seemed to want to keep from him. Brooke, both a friend and a detective assisting on the case, fears the worst, that the bullying caught up to him too, but instead she discovers that Evan was coming into his own. Evan was happy, all signs point to it, so what happened? As Brooke dives into solving the homicide readers are gifted with glimpses into the past from Evan's perspective. We see the aftermath of the loss of Evan and the impact it has across family, friends, and the entire town. We also see the grip that adolescent insecurity can have on you, even well into adulthood.

Boy Fallen is a stunning sophomore novel from Chris Gill that new fans and prior fans of The Nowhere will love. There's so much heart in this book that I almost forgot I was reading a mystery and seeking out a killer.

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