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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Boy Fallen

ISBN: 978-099446208

Publisher: Prntd Publishing

Publication Date: 03/22/2022

Format: e-book

My Rating: 5 Stars (ARC)


"There's a lot of power and heartbreak in this outstanding small-town crime novel. Gill has proven he's a real talent to watch."

—Paul Cleave, Author of Trust No One

When the body of wealthy teen and aspiring photographer Evan Wiley is found faceup at the base of Taonga Falls, one thing is immediately clear: he didn't jump.

Detective Brooke Palmer races down to the struggling New Zealand town she once called home to comfort her oldest friend - Evan's mother.

But when Brooke learns Evan had been hanging out with a boy who used to bully him, she quickly gets drawn into the case. She fears this dangerous new friendship may have cost Evan his life - or at the very least, his heart.

And as Brooke confronts her own past, she is reminded that in Taonga, even those who have it all can hit rock bottom.

A gripping whodunnit through a fresh lens, Boy Fallen will keep you guessing until the very end.

#BoyFallenNovel @chrisgillbooks @prntdpublishing

My Review

Atmospheric. Gripping. Emotionally intense. Unpredictable.

Chris Gill is a new author to me, and based on the blurb by one of my favorite New Zealand authors, Paul Cleave, this was enough recommendation for me! So glad to be introduced to this talented storyteller and this powerful crime thriller BOY FALLEN — a blending of coming-of-age, self-discovery, and young man's sexual identity.

Gill weaves a suspenseful and heart wrenching tale of hidden relationships, devastating lies, betrayal, and the power and courage of those who seek to uncover the long-buried secrets

Set in Taonga Falls, a remote small town near Christchurch, New Zealand, we immediately learn of the death of young Evan Wiley. Found at the falls by a photographer, had the boy fallen, or had he jumped, a suicide, or murder?

Meet Brooke Palmer, originally from the area, she is now a Detective in Auckland and has been for ten years and just made Sergeant.

Her stepdad, Gary is picking her up from the airport, and she must see Lana, her best friend and the mother of Evan. In addition, she knows the news of his death will be hard on her own mother and herself since years ago, her brother, Jack was found dead at the same falls. Nineteen years ago.

Is this a copycat crime, or could the wrong person be in prison and the real killer living among them? Or are the two deaths unrelated?

Suicide just did not add up. Locals begin to comment on the parallels between the murder of fifteen-year-old Jack Palmer, Brooke's brother nineteen years ago. Also, both boys were from wealthy families. Jack's murder gained international attention more recently when it became the subject of the true-crime podcast, Envy.

The area had two extremes very poor to very wealthy. The detective assigned to the case is Detective Tane Collins (Inspector). He could use her help on the case. The boy had looks, money, and brains, so why would he turn to drugs and ultimately be murdered?

The author gives us insights into Evan's life leading up until he was found dead. Written in italics, you feel for this young man who wants to fit in. Evan was bullied like Jack.

He is a talented photographer and is saving for a trip to Europe with his camera. However, he gets sidetracked. The two boys that were bullying him are guys he wants to hang with and feels like he needs to buy drugs in order for them to like him. He desperately wants acceptance, friends and to fit in. He is lonely.

Are Mick Saunders and Bill Henderson were his new friends. Or are they using him? Brooke is stunned since Saunders is the son of the man who killed her brother.

Did anyone in his family know what was really going on with Evan? Where was he getting the drugs? Was he spending all his money for his trip and getting hooked on drugs? Is he addicted? From cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs. Is he in too deep? Could it have been his dealer?

We learn Evan had strong feelings for Bill. But was Bill gay or will he openly admit it. His father would be appalled.

Evan's dad is not in the picture and not something he can discuss with his mom, so he turns to his photography professor. He is gay and he looks up to him as a mentor. He shows up at his house and his teacher's younger live-in boyfriend gets jealous.

Feeling he has nowhere to turn, he just wants to be with Bill. But Bill's dad is keeping them apart since the drugs among other things. However, there is something sinister working behind the scenes as the investigation continues throughout the book with flashbacks from Evan.

Brooke and Collins work tirelessly to get to the bottom of the murder and at the same time, solve the real mystery of her brother's death.

A search for the truth. A lifetime of lies.

From the ongoing mystery of the murder, the action, intensity, and suspense building to the identity of the killer and how it all came down - the Who, why, and how? Totally shocking and unexpected. From raw and piercing emotions a psychological thriller as well as a crime thriller.

I enjoy small-town crime suspense since everyone knows your business. Not much room to escape, giving it a sense of claustrophobia. A powerful tale. With flashbacks of Evan's this taut and emotional novel asks: how well do you know your teens, and well do they know you?

Gill's writing is spellbinding and lyrical against the many contrasts of good vs. evil of the characters, as well as the setting backdrop of nature which can be beautiful and dangerous, the weather, and the different classes from privileged and those who are not.

I highly recommend BOY FALLEN to fans of P.J. Vernon, Catherine Ryan Hyde's Boy Underground, and Alex Finlay's The Night Shift. I just purchased his The Nowhere and look forward to reading. Fans of small-town crime thrillers, self-discovery, coming-of-age, and LGBTQ will enjoy. Definitely, an author to follow and on my radar. Hoping we will see more of Collins and Palmer in the future.

A special thank you to the author and PRNTD Publishing for a digital ARC.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 5/5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Pub Date: March 22, 2022


"There's a lot of power and heartbreak in this outstanding small-town crime novel. Gill has proven he's a real talent to watch." —Paul Cleave, bestselling author of Trust No One

Chris Gill Books

From his latest mystery novel to his debut poetry book, find out more about Chris Gill’s growing list of titles.

About the Author

Chris Gill is the author of LGBTQ+ mystery novels The Nowhere and Boy Fallen. The Nowhere was published in 2019 and went on to become a Lambda Literary Awards finalist the following year. Boy Fallen is coming out 22 March 2022 through PRNTD Publishing.


Chris was born in Eastbourne in the UK to a British mother and New Zealander father. He moved to New Zealand with his family at age two where he spent over six years growing up in Auckland. It was during this time that Chris’ love for reading and writing began, spending his early years penning hundreds of short stories his mother still has tucked away.

Upon returning to the UK, Chris lived in a small town in Sussex. These years went on to inspire many of the themes in his novels, such as coming of age, small-town homophobia and isolation. Chris moved to Hampshire at age nineteen to study journalism at university.

Upon graduating, Chris moved to London and began a career in copywriting. In 2011, he published his debut book of poetry through his co-founded publishing company, PRNTD.

Chris relocated to Australia in 2014 and released his LGBTQ+ coming-of-age novel The Nowhere in 2019. His New Zealand mystery novel Boy Fallen is coming out 22 March 2022.

Chris lives in Sydney with his husband.




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