Book Review: Long Fall From Heaven

Ladies and gentlemen, friends and foes, here comes a curveball. I’m breaking from our well-established format and putting my tender foot into the world of literary criticism.

One day I had a fantasy of watching protectively over naive readers, ready to swoop down and save them from the weak storytelling and vapid characters that lurk in bad books. With the power of my words alone, I would knock the books from their hands and cause those noxious novels to burst into flames.

My fans would come and revel in my feats of fiery castigation. My haters would creep in to disparage me for my unwarranted severity, my sketchy grammar, and the fact that I had no published works of my own. Then, the haters would be torn apart by my rabid fans.

It was a glorious vision.

Unfortunately, I won’t be doing anything like that today. I’m short on bile and long on praise. Good books tend to do that to me.

Long Fall From Heaven is a mystery novel written by George Wier and Milton T. Burton.

There are four main characters in the piece: Micah, a former sheriff with a history that haunts him; Cueball, a former cop who knows how to get shit done; Longnight, a killer genius with a lust for life; and Galveston, a darkly alluring city on the Texas Coast.

I number Galveston, Texas among the characters here because it really is brought to life in this book with a clear personality and presence.

I don’t know anything about Galveston from first-hand experience apart from the fact that it has a beach, and the one time I visited Galveston was to walk on that beach with my lovely girlfriend. The book’s Galveston could’ve been totally off when compared to reality and I never would’ve known, but it doesn’t matter because I loved the city that was being presented on the page.

This book made me want to revisit Galveston to take a closer look at its past and present.

Micah and Cueball were fun characters to follow. Unravelling Micah’s tortured past and seeing Cueball take care of business was always interesting, but our heroes are at their best when they appear together. Their friendship, their dry repartee, the way they clashed and cooperated…

I quite enjoyed it.

My favorite character was Longnight, the scientific genius/gentleman adventurer/serial killer.

In those chapters that followed him, the thing I most enjoyed was the intimate window we are given into Longnight’s thoughts. His mind and morals are so alien, the way he sees the world is so vivid and surreal, I couldn’t stop reading when the focus was on him.

Totally fascinating.

There was one more perspective character, named Bart, but I can’t say much about him without kicking up a cloud of spoilers.

For me, the characters are the most important part of the book by far, which is why I carry on about them sometimes. If the characters are interesting, I’ll follow them through shitty scenery, meandering stories, and plots that are holier than Swiss cheese–not that I have anything bad to say about the plot or story here.

The plot hooked me well enough, but the way it’s presented was a brilliant stroke.

See, the adventures of Micah and Cueball are set in the 80’s, and the shenanigans of Longnight and Bart happen during World War II–all in and around Galveston, but with the perspective jumping back and forth between these two time periods over the course of the book, gradually revealing how their separate stories are connected despite occurring decades apart.

There was an artistry in the placement of these temporal jumps–in the weaving of time–that I appreciated very much.

So, we’re not going to have star ratings or number scores here. Not in this house. This isn’t Entertainment Weekly, and I don’t think I’m good at doing proper summations yet, so chew on this:

Long Fall From Heaven is a great read. I devoured it in a few days and enjoyed every minute. Even if you don’t like mysteries, I strongly suggest you give it a look–there’s a lot to like it in apart from the intrigue and the chase. If you like mysteries at all, I highly recommend it to you.

(“Galveston” by Glen Campbell.)

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