About this book: (from the publisher) On a foggy summer night, eleven people–ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter–depart Martha’s Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs–the painter–and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.
With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the crash and the backstories of the passengers and crew members–including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot–the mystery surrounding the tragedy heightens. As the passengers’ intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy. Was it merely by dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations. And while Scott struggles to cope with fame that borders on notoriety, the authorities scramble to salvage the truth from the wreckage.
Amid pulse-quickening suspense, the fragile relationship between Scott and the young boy glows at the heart of this stunning novel, raising questions of fate, human nature, and the inextricable ties that bind us together.
About the author: Noah Hawley is an Emmy, Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice, and Peabody Award-winning author, screenwriter and producer. He has published four novels and penned the script for the feature film Lies and Alibis. He created, executive produced and served as showrunner for ABC’s My Generation and The Unusuals and was a writer and producer on the hit series Bones. Hawley is currently executive producer, writer, and showrunner on FX’s award-winning series, Fargo.
If this book were a movie, I would rate it: R for profanity and sexual references
[Tweet “Deserving its rep as one of this summer’s most riveting reads @SheReadsBookCLB #SRBlog”]
Reflection: I read most of Before the Fall on a recent 12-hour transpacific flight and finished it minutes before landing, having eschewed other entertainment the airline had to offer. I mention this because when a book is able to capture and hold my attention under flight conditions (boredom, restlessness, fatigue), that’s a pretty solid recommendation in and of itself.
From its first pages, I was drawn into the story, and my interest held throughout all the flashback scenes that lay the groundwork for the ultimate reveal. Each character, even the secondary ones, play an important role in the unfolding of the plot, and some of these were actually my favorites. Main character Scott is flawed but likable. I found it impossible not to root for him; indeed, this — coupled with the mystery of what caused the crash — is what gives the story its inexorable pull.
More than once, I was struck by the author’s unique style: his deft, original descriptions and jumpy, vibrant (and sometimes surprisingly crude) dialogue. I did find my credibility stretched just a bit by the descriptions of the news coverage — far more editorializing than reporting. But maybe that’s because I’m not tuned in to the news very often. (If the reporting described here is to be believed, apparently for good reason.)
I expect Before the Fall will find captive audiences among both men and women. In fact, once I finished it, I handed the book off to my husband, who reportedly is finding it as riveting as I did. All in all, I’d say this engrossing thriller deserves its place among this summer’s most entertaining reads.
Thanks to She Reads and Grand Central Publishing for providing me a free copy to review. All opinions are mine.
After words: Reading this book, I couldn’t help but remember the summer when the private plane piloted by John F. Kennedy, Jr. went down near Martha’s Vineyard. I remember where I was (San Francisco) and what I was doing (vacationing with my husband) when this tragedy hit the news. How about you?