Source: Review copy
Publication: 28 June 2018 from Bonnier Zaffre
Nora Watts is being hunted . . .
When Nora Watts is approached by a man claiming to know her late father, she is thrown into turmoil. Struggling with the imminent death, from cancer, of her friend and mentor Sebastian Crow, she is unprepared for the memories that this encounter brings back. What happened to her father that made him kill himself and abandon Nora and her sister?
Heading to Detroit to try and find some answers about his life there, Nora expects to discover a reason behind his suicide. Instead, she finds more questions than answers.
But trouble always follows Nora, and it’s found her in Detroit, a city that is as broken as she is.
I had not realised that this was book 2 in a series, and that whilst you can read this as a stand-alone, I’m pretty sure you will get a great deal more from it if you have first read Eyes Like Mine. That’s because our protagonist has had quite a life, and it is in understanding who she is and everything that she has been through, that we appreciate the relationships – or lack thereof – that she has today.
It All Falls Down is a tough, sometimes brutal, novel with a badly mentally and physically damaged protagonist. Written in an uncompromising tone of voice it is dark and atmospheric and deals with some pretty strong social issues among the mean streets of Vancouver.
Nora Watts only ever knew her father. Her mother abandoned her and her sister early on and when her father blew his brains out she felt herself alone. She is spiky, sharp and quick to anger. For years she shielded her younger sister, Lorelei, from suffering too much of the burden of having a tough childhood, but now the sisters are pretty much estranged.
Nora doesn’t seek out friendship, preferring to stand alone but her character is somewhat redeemed by a tendency to self–deprecating humour and despite how hard she tries, her difficulty in fully having us believe that she doesn’t care what she has been through.
Now she’s a recovering alcoholic with a death toll behind her. An encounter with a veteran who knew her father raises disturbing questions about his life that demand answers.
She sets out to Detroit, where her father Sam, grew up, far away from his people and the place of his birth as a result of the terrible Sixties Scoop policy. In Detroit, what Nora discovers about Sam’s death has far reaching consequences that she could never have imagined.
In Vancouver former police detective turned private investigator Jon Brazuca is looking into the overdose death of billionaire Bernard Lam ’s great love, Clementine. His search uncovers a ruthless drugs gang, who also have a less than healthy interest in Nora, though he has no way of letting her know what he has discovered.
As Nora tries to get to the bottom of her father’s past, the action is lively and unpredictable with lots of attacks and assaults which place anyone who knows Nora directly in harm’s way.
The closer Nora comes to the truth, the more danger she is in, but as the pieces slowly fall into place, more people will die before Nora gets the answers she needs.
It All Falls Down is well written with strong tension and a good plot. Strong and uncompromising, it packs a really strong punch and is worth reading for that alone.
Nora is a fractured protagonist that you can’t help liking after all she has been through. It is clear that this is a 3 book narrative curve and then I will be interested to see what Kamal does with this character once Book 3 has been completed.
Verdict: Fascinating protagonist with disturbing insight into the social policies and practices of past and present Vancouver – but read Book One first.
About Sheena Kamal
Sheena Kamal was born in the Caribbean and immigrated to Canada as a child. She holds an HBA in political science from the University of Toronto, and was awarded a TD Canada Trust scholarship for community leadership and activism around the issue of homelessness. Kamal has also worked as a crime and investigative journalism researcher for the film and television industry— academic knowledge and experience that inspired this debut novel. She lives in Vancouver, Canada.