By: Mark Rubinstein
Publisher: Oceanview Publishing
Publication Date: 04/04/2023
My Rating: 4.5 Stars (ARC)
First, his doppelganger is killed—then it’s his father. Rick Shepherd is being stalked by a murderer.
When Rick Shepherd, a physician, approaches his office on a busy Manhattan street, he finds police cars, an ambulance, and crime scene technicians. He soon learns a passerby was shot three times in the back, murdered at the front door to Rick’s office.
Later that evening while watching the local news, Rick and his fiancee, Jackie, see a photo of the victim—to their horror, the deceased looks identical to Rick.
Two nights later, while making a house call in a Brooklyn apartment building, Rick’s 64-year-old father is shot and killed in the exact same way. Detectives Art Nager and Liz Callaghan are assigned the case, and they launch an investigation. There are no clues leading to the perpetrator.
Even more ominously, someone has been calling Rick and Jackie’s apartment and hanging up. Whoever is targeting Rick must have murdered his father, and they now have Rick in their crosshairs. Nager and Callaghan seem to be making no progress with their investigation. Rick’s quest for the truth draws him into a labyrinth of secrets, past tragedies, and the agonizing pain of lives shattered by a single event. Can he make it out before he meets the same fate as his father?
Perfect for fans of Michael Connelly and J. D. Robb.
Mark Rubinstein's latest riveting psychological murder mystery, DOWNFALL, features a doctor that realizes the murder of his father was identical to another shooting outside his office—begging the question—who was the intended victim?
Little does he know, the frantic search will unravel a dangerous web of dark family secrets and lies.
Set in the 80s in New York City, 34-year-old Dr. Rick Shepherd, divorced, is on staff at a Manhattan practice. He is pondering the mistake of joining this medical practice a few years earlier.
He has his family, Jackie (live-in girlfriend), sister, Katie, and Mom and Dad (separated). There is also his Uncle Harry, his dad's twin brother.
Then some guy gets shot outside his office in broad daylight. The man was 33, Robert Harper, an elementary school teacher. An unknown assailant. The weird thing is the guy could be Rick's twin brother. Random or intentional?
It is uncanny how much they look alike— from their hair, jaws, and blue eyes. A dead ringer, doppelganger—could be his double. He was killed at the entrance to his office. Shot three times. Was he the intended target?
Also, ironically, he had been receiving hang-up calls.
Two nights later, he receives a call from his mom—his dad, also a doctor, is dead at age 64. He was making a house call in Brooklyn at an apartment and was shot in the back—MURDERED.
This is up close and personal for Rick. What is going on? Were the bullets meant for him? Do they have enemies?
Detectives Art Nager and Liz Callaghan are assigned to the case, and they launch an investigation. There are no clues.
Could it be Katie's rough violent ex-boyfriend, Brock? Rick regrets the last words with his dad the night before he died. Death has no do-overs.
Rick is thinking of his dad and how medicine and practices have changed. How to practice medicine for the next thirty years. You have to be in a group with a treadmill of patients where billing and revenue drive everything. Was he the Golden Boy who wanted to please his father?
A killer is still out there, and Rick may be next. Motive?
In the meantime, he has to go to Connecticut to check on his Uncle Harry. He is afraid of what he will find. The house looks abandoned. What drove him to this condition?
In Rick's search for the truth, he is drawn into a web of dark family secrets of the past and tragedies. Will Rick make it out alive before meeting the same fate? Someone is out for REVENGE!
Compelling! An intense murder mystery page-turner I read in one sitting.
Rubinstein is a fantastic crime writer and knows his stuff (check out his impressive bio). I would classify DOWNFALL as psychologically rich—leaning more towards an intense character study, family saga, literary fiction, part medical thriller, detective, and a whodunit/whydunit suspense murder mystery.
I hope this book ends up in the right hands of a reader who will appreciate it. The book stays with you long after this heart-wrenching story ends, leaving you with a hopeful, satisfying conclusion.
I am a big fan of literary fiction, where the action often takes a back seat and focuses on what is going on at the moment. More character-driven rather than plot-driven and a reflection on the human condition —as why I enjoyed this immensely.
Classic, elegantly written, lyrical, and layered, a realistic tale of human character. Yes, there is the crime thriller, detective, and cop procedurals; however, the story shines at its best as the author explores what it means to be human and its intense emotions.
Thought-provoking! The lies we tell ourselves and others. How the past defines you. The struggling, balancing work, career/personal, and family dynamics. All the while dealing with self-awareness, the power of the past, choices, regrets, remorse, envy, resentments, deception, aspirations, the importance of time, and the mysteries of memory.
Highly charged topics are addressed: suicide, infidelity, murder, mental health, child abuse, grief, complex relationships, sibling rivalry, revenge, family dynamics, and the power of memories.
DOWNFALL would make for an ideal book club pick, and discussion questions included. There is much meaning to the title.
"Memory is such a strange thing. When you think about it, this instant in time is the only one that's not a memory. Our entire lives from this moment back are just memories. Yes, without our memories, we'd be empty vessels."
Some people choose to rewrite their memories.
My only comment: It would have been helpful to identify the chapters of POV. It switches around, so you spend a few paragraphs trying to figure out who is speaking when it changes.
DOWNFALL is for fans of authors Michael Connelly, Lisa Gardner, Michael & Daniel (DJ) Palmer, and John Hart (favorites). I highly recommend it and cannot wait to see what comes next from this talented author.
Pub Date: April 4, 2023
My Rating: 4.5 Stars rounded to 5
“Downfall is a compelling psychological thriller enriched with a superb (eighties New York) sense of time and place. A page-turner that doesn’t sacrifice depth of understanding of the human condition.”
—Jonathan Kellerman, New York Times best-selling author
“Downfall is a very classy and gripping high-octane thriller—I could not put it down.”
—Peter James, best-selling author
“Tense and suspenseful, this mystery is deepened by its exploration of grief and family dynamics. Surprising and poignant.”
—Meg Gardiner, Edgar Award-winning author
“Mark Rubinstein’s Downfall is a harrowing murder-mystery wrapped in an enigma. It's whip-smart and crackling-paced. Part medical thriller, part detective story, but ultimately a heart-wrenching story of the fallibility of memory and how past trauma haunts a life. Treat yourself to this story today.”
—James Rollins, New York Times best-selling author
“Rubinstein’s Downfall is a psychological killer—a smart, intricate, page-turner.”
—Reed Farrel Coleman, New York Times best-selling author
“Downfall is a psychological thriller par excellence that follows one man's personal descent into a deconstructive hell. Mark Rubinstein hits the bull's-eye dead center in a scintillating stunner of a tale destined to place him alongside the likes of Joseph Finder, Harlan Coben and Lisa Gardner. Downfall reads like a post-modern equivalent of the John D. MacDonald classic Cape Fear, pushing its characters to the brink while pushing readers to finish it in one sitting.”
—Jon Land, USA Today best-selling author
“[In Downfall], Rubinstein makes Rick a well-rounded and plausible lead, and the action builds to a satisfying ending.” —Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Mark Rubinstein was born in Brooklyn, New York. He dreamed of playing baseball for the Brooklyn Dodgers since his all-time hero was the Dodgers’ first baseman Gil Hodges. Rubinstein played high school baseball and ran track. His love of sports led him to read sports fiction, and soon he became a voracious reader, developing an enduring love for all kinds of novels.
He graduated from New York University with a degree in business administration. He then served in the army and ended up as a field medic tending to paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division. He was so taken with these experiences that after his discharge, he re-entered NYU as a premed student.
He entered medical school at the State University of New York’s Downstate Medical Center. As a medical student, he developed an interest in psychiatry, discovering in that specialty the same thing he realized in reading fiction: every patient has a compelling story to tell. He became a board-certified psychiatrist practicing in New York City.
In addition to running his private practice he developed an interest in forensic psychiatry because the drama and conflict of the cases and courtrooms tapped into his personality style. He also taught psychiatric residents, interns, psychologists, and social workers at New York Presbyterian Hospital and became a clinical assistant professor at Cornell University’s medical school.
Before turning to fiction, Rubinstein coauthored five medical self-help books: The First Encounter: The Beginnings in Psychotherapy (Jason Aronson); The CompleteBook of Cosmetic Facial Surgery (Simon and Schuster); New Choices: the Latest Options inTreating Breast Cancer (Dodd Mead); Heartplan: A Complete Program for Total Fitnessof Heart & Mind (McGraw-Hill), and The Growing Years: A Guide to Your Child’s Emotional Development from Birth to Adolescence (Atheneum).
Rubinstein lives in Connecticut with his wife and as many dogs as she will allow in the house. He still practices psychiatry and is busily writing more novels. Mad Dog House, his first novel, was named a Finalist for the 2012 ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Award (Thriller & Suspense) and The Foot Soldier won the Silver award for Fiction at the 2014 Benjamin Franklin Awards. WEBSITE