All Fall Down by Tom Bale, narrated by John Telfer

All Fall Down didn’t work for me for a number of reasons. I started listening to it after a bad week at work, wanting to escape into something easy on the brain. Unfortunately, it proved too easy on the brain, with a plot that quickly became so convoluted there was just no plausibility to it. At one point, two of the lead characters even question aloud whether so much bad luck could ever realistically happen to one family, and go on their merry way having assured themselves that “X doesn’t count for Y reason, and A and B are just coincidental timing, so no this is all totally fine!” Reader, it was not totally fine.

The story here revolves around the unfortunate Turner family, whose Sunday afternoon barbecue is thrown into disarray when a badly beaten stranger stumbles into their garden seeking help, and promptly dies. This single act becomes the gateway for all sorts of family woe to bubble to the surface – teenage daughter Georgia was adopted after witnessing her dad murder her mum, son Josh is mixed up in drug smuggling and on the run from a local gangster, dad Rob’s former partner was murdered for running off with the firm’s money, oh and the family are now the target of a Mason-esque cult bent on torture and murder. So not the best of weekends, really.

The chapters are very short, and shift perspective between Georgia, Rob, and mum Wendy. As a result of this, and the entirely over-egged plot, I never felt like I connected with any of the characters. My main feeling once the final third set in and their lives were endangered was just disgust at how closely to torture porn territory the book was veering. I came very close to not finishing on a number of occasions, but managed to stick it through to the unlikely end. On the plus side, I had no qualms with John Telfer’s able narration.

For a much better read of cultish peril, I highly recommend The Girls by Emma Cline.

[Read from 10-22 February 2017]

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