by Gabrielle Mathieu

As the sun rises on a quiet Swiss mountain village in 1957, runaway Peppa Mueller wakes up naked and stranded on the roof of her employer’s manor, with no idea how she got there. As she waits for help, she struggles to piece together fragmented memories of the previous night. Did she really witness the brutal massacre of a local family? Did she kill them? Her fear of sinister house guest Dr. Unruh fuels her panic—as do electrifying flashes of a furious falcon, trapped inside her.

Wanted for murder, Peppa flees the police, intent on finding out if there’s a scientific explanation or if she’s just going mad. Her godfather, world-renowned chemist Dr. Kaufmann, risks his career to help her. In the meantime, Peppa fights her attraction to the handsome priest from India who offers her shelter. With their help, she not only finds Dr. Unruh but places herself at his mercy. His experiments may be the reason Peppa now shares her body with a bloodthirsty bird of prey—but the revenge she plans could kill them both.

I thought talking would be a relief, but it wasn’t. When I finally stopped, exhausted by the effort of reliving that dreadful night, I had a knot in the pit of my stomach.

Da and I wanted to help troubled people with Paxarbital. Now I’d become one of them, a murderer suffering under hallucinations.

I raised my face to meet Stefan’s clear blue eyes. I saw no condemnation. “I told you I killed Hans Wäspi. Isn’t confession supposed to be good for the soul? I don’t feel any better.”

“Only God can forgive your sins. I can’t.”

Three dead. At least. “What about the woman who brought us our drinks?”

“Anita Eugster? No one’s seen her. They’re looking through the ruins of the kitchen for her bones.”

Despair descended over me, and I had to fight an urge to scream. I splashed my face with cold water, biting my lip to fight the pain inside.

“They found me on the roof this morning.” My voice sounded hollow. “Did you hear?”

Stefan moved away from me a bit, rubbing his hands as if he was cold. I understood. I’d like to get away from myself too, if I only could.

I dug my nails in my palm. I would not be weak. “We really were poisoned. I could prove it.”

“I saw your wings, Patrizia.”

“My name is Peppa.”

“You turned into an angel.”

I rubbed my eyes. What I needed was a lab.

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-What inspired you to become a writer?

The monotony of routine, the triviality of conversation, and the drudgery of taxes. I need a permanent entertaining escape.

-If you could visit your book’s world for a day, what one thing would you do?

The Falcon Flies Alone is set in 1957, and I think it would be enough to just see everything—the old Daimlers and Mercedes, the bodice-fitted dresses with darts, the signage on the stores. I’m fascinated by the past. Maybe I’d go look for Dick Draper.

-Give us a fun or interesting fact you learned researching this book.

There were so many. Swiss women in the Alps really did make extra money boiling down pine-sap. Harvests fluctuated with weather, and every little bit they could earn helped.

-Which of your characters would you go out for drinks with?

I’m in love with Tenzin, so I would do most things with him. The illegitimate child of a Swiss missionary and a Bhutanese nurse, Tenzin Engler has insight, compassion, and a fair amount of charisma. Plus, he’s a hottie.

-You’re in a tavern, and a dwarf challenges you to a duel. What do you do?

So you know my husband? He’s short, handsome, and likes taverns. Seriously though. I’d knock that dwarf out with a downward swoop of my Guinness-filled tankard.

-Is there a genre you could never write? Which and why?

I have some issues with gender-normative behavior, which might be inferred from my trouser-wearing, chemistry loving character, Peppa. I’ll probably never pen anything along “Fifty Shades of Grey”, with a blushing virginal heroine and a troubled and overbearing bad boy.


Gabrielle Mathieu lived on three continents by the age of eight. She’d experienced the bustling bazaars of Pakistan, the serenity of Swiss mountain lakes, and the chaos of the immigration desk at the JFK airport. Perhaps that’s why she developed an appetite for the unusual and disorienting. Her fantasy books are grounded in her experience of different cultures and interest in altered states of consciousness (mostly white wine and yoga these days). The Falcon Flies Alone is her debut novel.

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