All Fall Down
The Furnass Towers Trilogy
There’s been a murder in Furnass—or has there? The death under suspicious circumstances of prominent real estate developer Dickie Sutcliff leads the Reverend Bryce Orr to play detective. Ignoring contradictory evidence as well as prime suspects such as Dickie’s wife or brother, Bryce’s favorite suspect is his childhood friend, Julian Lyle. Meanwhile Lyle, a less than successful lawyer in town whose aspirations included the failed Furnass Towers project, is most concerned with stopping his new best friend Kim Leong from using his martial arts skills to kill a local drug dealer who may have something to do with the disappearance of Kim’s teenage daughter. The threads of these various investigations reach a violent conclusion amid missed connections and misplaced loyalties, as well as the possibilities for forgiveness.
About Book THREE
Reader’s Guide to All Fall Down
When small-town real estate mogul Dickie Sutcliff is found dead one night in his office, nobody really questions the circumstances—his death is considered accidental by everyone except Reverend Bryce Orr, the unconventional minister who presides over the funeral. Spurred into action both by the suspicions of Dickie’s girlfriend and his own curiosity, Bryce turns to the residents of Furnass, Pennsylvania, to uncover the truth. Although readers may be able to guess the identity of the murderer early on, many of the characters, including Bryce, remain in the dark. Reminiscent in this way of several of Agatha Christie’s iconic murder mysteries, All Fall Down quickly becomes both a whodunit and a “whydunit”: Who else in Furnass knew the truth about what happened that night? What possible motive could there have been for this crime? Told through multiple perspectives, the novel allows readers to gradually unearth the answers and discover just how deep some allegiances can run. The third installment in Richard Snodgrass’s Furnass Towers series, All Fall Down is a compelling and complex read that grapples with the intricate concepts of morality, loyalty, and vengeance.
Questions and Topics for Discussion
- How does the information offered in the italic passages set this work apart from other novels in the mystery genre? In what ways does the author maintain the suspense of the story despite disclosing key information at the beginning?
- Do you feel Kim truly acted in self-defense during the violent altercation with his father? How does your opinion relate to your views of acting in self-defense in general, both within this novel and in your own life?
- All Fall Down contains detailed descriptions of architecture and interior design from the perspectives of many characters. What do you feel is the significance of these passages? In what ways do these descriptions contribute to the development of various characters and their experiences in Furnass?
- How does humor, particularly as introduced by Bryce’s character, work with the dramatic nature of the plot? Why do you think the author chose Bryce as the primary comedic outlet in this novel?
- What theories regarding the motive for Dickie’s death did you develop as you read? How did these theories change as more information was revealed?
- While reflecting on past events, Kim thinks to himself, “The world isn’t about thinking; it’s about acting. Doing whatever needs to be done, whenever it needs to be done.” Do any other characters in All Fall Down seem to abide by this mind-set? Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
- How does Kim’s relationship with Cory add depth to his character? In what ways has his past influenced this relationship?
- Do you think Julian’s loyalty to Kim is based on fear or genuine respect? Discuss the ways in which this friendship changes as the book progresses.
- How do you think the rivalry between the Sutcliffs and the Lyles affected Julian’s reaction to Dickie’s death? Do you think Julian would have reacted as he did if someone other than Dickie had been murdered?
- Discuss the similarities between Tinker and Julian, especially within the context of their ties both to each other and to Dickie. In what ways do these similarities create problems for the two toward the end of the novel?
Reviews, Extra Scenes, etc.
Rose or Catherine Windows
Fact is, among the many early versions of the book under a variety of titles, there wasn’t a tower window in the book, or a tower for that matter. The church was vaguely patterned after one where a high school friend of mine ended up as pastor. He and I reconnected when we found ourselves living in the same community near Pittsburgh in the early 1980s, and we often hung out bopping around the empty church. A feature of the church was a large concave stained-glass wheel window in a dome high above the congregation. After years of being exposed to the smoke and grit of the mills around Pittsburgh, the window when my friend first took over the pastorship appeared almost blank from the floor of the church, murky gray with just a hint of vague color here and there. One day poking around the rafters of the church my friend discovered not only the top of the window in its framework, but that he could restore the color of the glass to its original luster with a toothbrush and some vinegar water. Over the next year he spent every free moment working on the window, lying spreadeagle to distribute his weight over the sagging and creaking leading, meticulously restoring it.
The story of the guy risking life and limb stretched out over that window working to restore it seemed too good to be true. And it turned out to be just that. The problem was that it was too obvious that somebody somehow was going to go through that window. Maybe it was also that I was trying too hard to incorporate that image/symbol/metaphor/whatever into the book. Finally, after years of trying, it occurred to me to make that element of the story a wheel window in the tower of the church. Yes, I had to remake the descriptions of the church to include a tower, but once I made that change the story and the action took off on its own accord. As for the symbology of the window, I suspect there is some but whenever it nipped around the edges of my consciousness I scolded it and sent it back to its corner. Though I admit, the idea of the Catherine Window, the evocation of Catherine on the wheel—the struggle and pain an individual has to go through to get to the other side— still called to me from its dark corner at times so I knew it was still around….