They All Fall Down by Rachel Howzell Hall They All Fall Down by Rachel Howzell Hall
Narrator: Janina Edwards
Published by Blackstone Audio, Inc. on April 9, 2019
Source: Library
Genres: Mystery
Length: 8 hrs 55 mins
Pages: 320
Format: Audiobook
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two-half-stars

It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime.

Delighted by a surprise invitation, Miriam Macy sails off to a luxurious private island off the coast of Mexico, with six strangers—an ex-cop, a chef, a financial advisor, a nurse, a lawyer, a young widow.

Surrounded by miles of open water in the gloriously green Sea of Cortez, Miriam is shocked to discover that she and the rest of her companions have been brought to the remote island under false pretenses—and all seven strangers harbor a secret.
Danger lurks in the lush forest and in the halls and bedrooms of the lonely mansion. Sporadic cell-phone coverage and miles of ocean keep the group trapped in paradise. And strange accidents keep them suspicious of each other, as one by one . . .

They all fall down.

I am a huge Agatha Christie fan, so when I was They All Fall Down is an adaptation of And Then There Were None, I was of course interested. Seven people are lured to an island in Mexico and if you’ve read/seen And Then There Were None, you have a basic idea of what’s going to happen. In this case, I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to say they all end up dead.

The setting is great, an isolated private island in Mexico with a gorgeous house. The premise is obviously good, it worked for Christie, it works here. The people gathered each have their own secrets that have now caught up with them. The characters are mostly memorable if a bit caricature-ish. I didn’t like any of them, but I wasn’t supposed to either.

The story is told in the first person by Miriam, a dance mom who has some definition. She is not a nice person but also has a victim mentality. She needed to do what she did to stand up for herself and her daughter – you just don’t understand. Her head is not always an enjoyable place to be. And she’s just annoying. Apparently her job, before she was fired (why would they ruin her life like that), was being a black version of Elaine when she wrote for the J. Peterman Catalog in Seinfeld, making up exotic little stories for bags and dresses, which she continues to do in her head about the other guests jewelry, clothes, bags. On the other hand, maybe she was the best to be the narrator. She didn’t go flat out crazy and was relatively clear-handed. The people on the island are kind of terrible, but they do try to help each other out for the most part once they realize what’s going on.

It wasn’t a bad book, it just wasn’t particularly good either. You know the end, basically, and the tension getting there just never reaches the level it needed to. I didn’t care about the characters and the whodunnit was kind of obvious. I listened to the audio and thought the narrator did a good job, but she couldn’t save the book for me.

I think maybe the comparison with And Then There Were None destined They All Fall Down to failure for me. Christie’s book is tight and, if you didn’t know beforehand, the plot twists are well-done. They All Fall Down starts slow, is a bit meandering, and just doesn’t deliver the suspense and shock. But, others might love it.

About Rachel Howzell Hall

Rachel Howzell Hall is the author of seven novels, including the critically-acclaimed Detective Elouise Norton series. She is also collaborating with James Patterson and BookShots on the upcoming “The Good Sister.” A featured writer on NPR’s acclaimed ‘Crime in the City’ series, Rachel has served as a mentor in AWP’s Writer to Writer Program and is currently on the board of directors of the Mystery Writers of America.

She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.

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