Cover Image: Downfall


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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?

I have read several of this author's books and enoyed them, so I was excited to read this one. Unfortunately, this one fell a little short of expectations for me. It wasn't bad, don't get me wrong. It just wasn't great. At some points it seemed to plod along, and then other points it was somewhat suspenseful. Once it was revealed who the killer was, it seemed to devolve even further from there. At times this felt like I was reading a police procedural, other times a mystery, and other times a psychological thriller. Overall this one gets a solid 3.

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Set in the 1980s, Downfall is a psychological thriller that drops us into the mind of your ordinary, everyday citizen who is suddenly confronted by the possibility that he has been targeted for murder. This is a mystery that combines the psychological thriller elements with a police procedural investigation with each running in parallel with each other.

When a man is shot to death in broad daylight out in front of Dr Rick Shepherd’s surgery his concern for the poor man turns to fear for himself when he discovers the man looks almost identical to himself. Could this shooting have been a case of mistaken identity and was he the true target?

Shortly after this first troubling murder, Rick’s father, also a doctor, is murdered, shot in the back while making a late-night housecall. This clearly rocks his world and his mind immediately returns to the other shooting, not to mention the increasing number of hang-up calls he’s been getting.

Investigating the doctor’s murder is Detective Art Nagel and his partner Detective Liz Callaghan, a pair of Brooklyn detectives who, for quite some time appear to be spinning their wheels. While they grind through the process of trying to pick up the killer’s trail, we slowly get a clearer picture of what makes each of them tick. It’s this part of the story where we’re given a full picture of both cops which gave me a firm stake in their success or failure.

Although there is an attempt to build the drama through occasional first person narratives from the perspective of the killer who is clearly still on the trail of Rick Shepherd, the actual danger feels rather removed. There was a great deal of “I’m gonna get ya, I’m gonna get ya” but not a lot of doing.

In fact, this turns out to be a story more inclined to the mental anguish felt by Rick as he does a great deal of reevaluating of his life. His reasons for becoming a doctor, his relationship with his murdered father, his dissatisfaction with the current job situation and questions over whether he is truly content in his relationship with his girlfriend all burn within him. Churning through all of this comes the specter of a family tragedy that has clearly made its mark on the entire Shepherd family.

The resolution, when it comes, aims to provide an unexpected twist which really didn’t hit the mark, although it was a valiant effort. The twist aside, the final confrontation was packed with energy, anguish and self-doubt and it was here that I found myself most deeply invested.

A moderately paced psychological thriller, I ended up rating it three stars. This came down to the fact that, after devoting a significant portion of the book to the building relationship between the detectives, Nager and Callaghan, they disappointingly play an extremely minor role in the outcome. I would call this more a psychological examination of the human mind than a true thriller.

My thanks to Oceanview Publishing through NetGalley for the digital ARC of the book to allow me to read, enjoy and review Downfall.

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Downfall had a great little description written about it. Someone is killing people close to or who resemble you. What do you do to keep yourself and everyone else safe? I loved the idea. I love the plot summary. At times I felt like I wanted to just skip over parts that slowed down the story. Pacing really killed this one for me. I kept losing the tension.

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Downfall by Mark Rubinstein #eighteenthbookof2023 #arc

CW: Murder, outdated terminology for sex workers

First, his doppelganger is killed—then it’s his father. Rick Shepherd is being stalked by a murderer.

This is the description that made me want to read this book. Sounds good, right? Sadly, it’s the most interesting part of the novel. All I can really say about it is…meh. It was fine-ish. It was a little slow, not super interesting, and the story just sort of plodded along. A lot of time is spent by the main character, after the main mystery is already solved, trying to determine whether a farfetched story he’s told is true, and I just didn’t care.

I didn’t realize the book was set in the 80s until I discovered that answering machines figured heavily. Add several references to The Godfather, and fax machines as the way the cops are communicating about the case. I could absolutely tell who was writing this book. The author uses a few outdated ways of describing sex workers, which may have used based on the time period of the setting, but it still frustrated me. He repeated a lot of things, like feelings about how the main character’s father didn’t want him to follow his dreams of being a professional baseball player, and then you later learn he’d only played in high school. In my opinion, thank goodness his father dissuaded him from professional sports to become a doctor.

This was just not the book for me but those who like a lighter murder mystery might enjoy this.

Thank you to @netgalley and @oceanviewpub for the advance copy. (Pub date 4/4/23)

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Great book, full of intrigue. Someone who looks like Rick Shepherd is killed outside his office. Two days later his father is killed in the same way, shot in the back. Is Rick at risk, someone calling his apartment and putting down the phone does this mean something. Then we understand the killer is avenging some past event. The book brilliantly weaves us through to the ultimate and brilliant ending.

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Thank you to Oceanview Publishing for the ARC! I had a hard time with the writing in this story and ended up only making it to the halfway mark. It felt very perfunctory, a lot of "this happened then this" without any reflection or thought. I didn't care about the character or what happened, major things were happening to him and there was no real sense of how he felt about it.

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After a man is shot and killed outside his office building, Rick Shepherd is disconcerted to discover the man is his doppelganger; was Rick the real target? When his father is killed in a similar manner a couple nights later, Rick's paranoia increases. The police have no idea whether the two killings are connected and they have few clues to identify the murderer(s). I wanted to like this book more than I did. Despite the fact that characters spend a lot of time on introspection, it didn't make me feel connected to them. Despite Rick feeling like he may be the next target, I never felt like there was a lot of tension or suspense, although the identity of the killer was a surprise.

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I've been reading reviews with mixed feelings and not so flattering remarks about this book and I cannot understand why: it is wonderfully written, maybe sometimes slightly repetitive, ok, but it's part of the narrative style, since the POV is basically that of an omniscent narrator, who zoomes in on each protagonist (and at that point the narration is in the first person) and recounts their stream of consciousness, making all major characters tridimensional. Someone wrote that Rick, the main character, a doctor whose life is forever changed by heinous events, is a flat character and I beg to differe in this case too: he has a true, gradual development, from naive uptown young man to a disillusioned but self-consciuous man in 10 months (the time that elapses from the beginning to the end of the story). Moreover, when it comes to the plot: well, I read many thrillers and I didn't see the plot twist coming, I kept suspecting virtually every character but I hadn't imagined who the real culprit would be.

I loved the atmosphere the author created with his words, the 80s and New York are so vivid in my mind even if I haven't lived either of them. He describes places and landscapes, indulging in small details that really make you image how they look like (I know some places where invented, as the author himself points out in the final note, but still it doesn't matter - I highlighted many place and restaurant names that I want to look up, just to give you an idea of how obsessed I am!).

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My first thought: the blurb was better. Really, the blurb promises us a story about a young physician, Rick Shepherd, who has to fear for his life. The murder of his father is being investigated by a couple of detectives, Art Nager and Liz Callaghan but it seems they are getting nowhere. Ricks mother and sister are devastated, not to mention Rick’s father twin brother Harrison.
There is talk about a very special gun that was used to kill Ricks father and there is talk about secrets from the past and in between all this, Rick comes to realize that he maybe did not choose well when he followed in his father’s footsteps.
Yes, I finished the book because it is a very good attempt to write a captivating ‘psychological police procedural’. Sadly, although Nager and Callaghan are interesting characters, Rick himself is not. He stays flat, his family stays flat and even his boss, whom he says he hates, stays flat. There is romance in this story but this part read as if it came from a book from the fifties. A man who only has eyes for the beautiful blue eyes of a woman? A man who almost drools over her, thinks of her day and night, while we get absolutely nothing to read about hér feelings – except after the first time they sleep together and even then it reads like she has more of a high school crush.
And then the villain. Better not say anything about the villain.
And then this: I became more and more irritated by the fact that you have to read this book with a map of Manhattan in hand. Seriously, every character in this book is driving or walking all over the place and we have to read about every street, alley and avenue. When you’re not a born and bred New Yorker, this is very confusing and it leads nowhere (no pun intended). I do not understand why people always want to go to crossings when the address they want to visit could well be in the middle of a block. But ok, this is a cultural thing I think.
The idea of this story is not bad at all. It’s just that I think the author could have done better and I hope he will the next time he writes a novel.

Thanks to Oceanview Publishing and NetGalley for this review copy.

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The story begins in 1983 in New York when a man that looks so much like Rick Shepherd, is shot. The coincidence bother's Rick, but the police doesn't think much of it. But then Rick's father dies in the same exact way, with 3 shots in the back, and the physician starts to fear for his life, worrying that he will be next.
Detectives Art Nager and Liz Cunningham investigate, but there are no leads nor suspects. Although they investigate all the family dynamics, friends and patients, all they find is a special weapon that is used, but no suspect. Parallel to the main plot, the author includes a small romance story between the emotionally fragile detective Art and Liz.
In this fast paced psychological thriller, the reader gets the POV of Rick Shepherd, the POV of the murder and the POV of Detective Art Nager. I really enjoyed the details, the different point of views where characters spend time reflecting about what happened in the past which helps the reader to understand better each character, and the unexpected twist in the end.
Thank you so much to Oceanview Publishing and Netgalley for this arc. The opinions above are my own and given freely.

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This multi-viewpoint mystery centers around the death of a 64-year-old doctor who was making a house call. It also includes the death of a man outside a doctor's office. Both methods of murder - three shots in the back - are the same.

Dr. Rick Shepherd and his fiancée are watching TV when they see a picture of the man who was shot outside Rick's office and are dismayed to learn that he looked very much like Rick. When Rick's father is killed the same way, Rick feels that there has to be a connection. He's wondering is someone is also targeting him. He's had a high frequency of hang-up calls on his phone lately.

Detectives Art Nager and Liz Callaghan have the case of the death of Rick's father and are busy looking into his life to find out who wanted him dead. They are also building a relationship with each other despite their trainer/trainee relationship and complicated pasts.

The killer also has a viewpoint as we see him planning his kills and learn something about his past.

This was a pretty introspective mystery with all the characters spending a lot of time reflecting on their past experiences. Fans of the introspective will be the best audience for this one.

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A standalone medical thriller, Downfall by Mark Rubinstein is set in 1983, New York. It begins with an elderly GP Doctor being shot in the back, whilst making a house call to one of his patients. His son, Rick Shepard also a medical practitioner, returns to his clinic where a man (his doppelganger) has been shot and killed. Detectives Art Nager and Liz Cunningham investigate, but there are no leads nor apparent suspects. Rick starts receiving telephone calls but nothing is said and they hang up. Believing he may be a target, Rick is determined to find the truth about why his father was killed. As the family’s past tragedies and secrets are revealed, will Rick be next? An enjoyable psychological suspense tale with an unexpected twist, if all too rosy an ending. So overall, it is a three stars read rating, given the disappointment of the culmination of the story. With thanks to Oceanview Publishing and the author, for an uncorrected advanced review copy for review purposes. As always, the opinions herein are totally my own and freely given.

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I am afraid that I didn't really connect with this book. I loved the sound of it, but found it was a slow read, and I got bored, sorry, not for me.

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Following in his father’s footsteps, Rick Shepherd became a successful physician. Rick was good at what he did. But he wasn’t particularly fond with the group practice he was involved in. So when a look-alike is gunned down in front of his office building, Rick becomes hyper-aware and paranoid. Was he the target? Adding to his paranoia, his father is also gunned down in front of a patient’s building. Was it coincidental? Or, is his family the targets of a vengeful former patient?

Downfall is a slow and methodical police procedural. It’s a novel that didn’t quite grab me and it took a while for the plot to unfold. Since I prefer a much faster pacing, I found that this police procedural subgenre isn’t my preferred type of mystery novel.

I liked the characters in this novel. Not so much the main character, but the detectives involved in the investigations. Their personalities shine through in the book.

There were multiple plot twists, but nothing really surprising, and very little shock value. But, for those readers that can appreciate the methodical investigation type novel, Downfall would be a good fit.

Overall, Downfall is a fairly good mystery, but there wasn’t anything thrilling about it. Three stars.

I received a digital ARC from Oceanview Publishing through NetGalley. The review herein is completely my own and contains my honest thoughts and opinions.

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The story starts with two murders, seemingly unrelated unless you happen to be the protagonist of Downfall, Dr. Rick Shepherd. The victims, Rick's father and Rick's look-alike, set the stage for a fast-paced who done-it. Downfall takes place in NYC during the 1980's, adding atmosphere and mood to the plot. Adam with a target on his back and reeling from the loss of his father, attempts to identify the killer before he strikes again. Working with NYPD, and struggling with his own demons, Rick has a lot on his plate. Downfall is a super fast read., with an ending worthy of the story . Thanks for the opportunity to read this book.

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An interesting concept, well executed with a solid plot and great characterisation.
The plot trots along at a good pace and would make a good weekend / holiday read

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This is a wonderful thriller that gives you a glimpse into the mind of a madman. At the same time you get a great perspective from the hunted and how fear can guide them. This is a very captivating read.

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Downfall by Mark Rubinstein keeps the reader guessing until the end. The story revolves around Rick Shepherd, a physician, who finds himself stalked by a murderer after a passerby is killed outside his office and is discovered to bear a striking resemblance to him. When his father is killed two nights later, Rick becomes convinced that he is the target. The two detectives assigned to the caseare unable to find any solid leads, leading Rick to investigate on his own. The book is well-paced with an unexpected ending that ties up all the loose ends.

Overall, Downfall is a well-written and entertaining murder mystery that will appeal to fans of the genre. I would recommend it and give it a rating of 4 out of 5

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Downfall is Mark Rubinstein’s latest novel, due out in 4/23. This book is a murder mystery and a thriller. It’s my opinion that Oceanside Publishing is developing a list of authors that are quite good at what they do, and this book has already been very favorably reviewed Michael Connelly, who is in my opinion the king of this genre.

Rick Shepherd is an internist in Brooklyn who followed his father, James Shepherd, into the world of medicine. The two doctors don’t have much contact with each other even though their practices are close to each other, and their practices are run quite differently. James Shepherd has an old time practice and still makes house calls. He is much more interested in delivering meaningful care than earning a dollar. Rick is part of a multi-practice specialty group, and the managing partner is all about making ever penny he can from the practice. Rick hates the way his practice is run, but he can’t see doing things his dad’s way. As the book begins, father and son have argued about that recently.

Rick is returning to his office building after lunch, but he can’t get into his building because the police have taped off the entrance. There had just been a murder, a shooting in the front of the building and a man Robert Harper was dead. It was later that same night that Rick and his girlfriend, Jackie, see the story on the news and are impressed by how much the pictures of Robert Harper looked like Rick, as if they were dopplegangers. They wonder if Rick was really the intended target. Only a couple days later, it is Rick’s dad, who is murdered in a very similar manner as he was going to make an evening housecall.

The police have no solid clues, and this leads to the introduction of detectives Art Nager and Liz Callaghan, both of whom are single and lonely, and they begin to develop a relationship. The story of the detectives added great depth to the novel. The author fills out the story with Rick’s sister Katie and his mother, as well as his Uncle Harry, the younger fraternal twin of James. Rubinstein develops the theme of sibling rivalry, using James and Harry, as well as Rick and Katie of examples of that. The ongoing unsolved nature of James murder becomes a significant stress on all parties, including the relationship between Rick and Jackie.

This is a very creative story, and it’s one I did not figure out until the author revealed the killer’s identity in the last pages of the novel. I understand why Connelly wrote so highly about this book and it gets my solid recommendation.

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I will leave a review on Amazon and B&N on April 4th

Downfall was a fast paced novel that takes place in New York City. I found it to be well written, even if it was a little different. I thought it started out strongly, but after that it did tend to move along at a scattered pace. I would recommend this book to others.

I received an ARC from NetGalley and Oceanview Publishing, and I am leaving my review voluntarily.

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