Monday 10 April 2017

Book Review: Before the Fall by Noah Hawley.

Product details:
Publisher:  Hodder Paperbacks
Paperback, 400 pages.
Release date: April 6th 2017.
Rating: 4½  out of 5.
Ages: Adult
Source: Received from publisher for review.

On a foggy summer night, eleven people--ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter--depart Martha's Vineyard headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the passengers disappear 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 a wealthy and powerful media mogul's family.

With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the tragedy 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 crash heightens. As the passengers' intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy: Was it merely 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--all while the reader draws closer and closer to uncovering the truth.

The fragile relationship between Scott and the young boy glows at the heart of this novel, raising questions of fate, human nature, and the inextricable ties that bind us together.

A literary thriller with huge commercial appeal, Noah Hawley’s Before the Fall is a master class mystery of secrets and suspense that plays alongside a social commentary that is timely, clever and knowing. 

What does it mean to be a hero?

In this day and age of celebrity worship and fame that often disappears just as quickly as it is attained, Scott Burroughs really isn’t sure. All forty-something Scott knows is that he’s messed up his life more than most, and he’s certainly no hero. But that’s what the news outlets are calling him – at least for now. Scott, along with JJ, the four-year-old boy whose life he saved as he swam to shore, are the only survivors of a plane crash that killed a media mogul, a Wall Street power player and their respective families. What was Scott, a down-on-his-luck artist doing on a flight full of such prosperous business people?  That’s the question the news networks are starting to ask, as it becomes clear the crash was no accident, and a feeding frenzy ensues.

Hero becomes villain in the turn of a news reel and the blink of an eye. 

Before the Fall is a different type of thriller: a commentary on a vulture-like news media where everything and everyone is fair game and sensationalism trumps truth every time.  Hawley writes like a dream and his clever turn of phrase deems this book a cut above many others in its genre.  For me, though, it is Hawley’s characters who steal the show. Before the Fall is an extremely character driven novel; an ensemble movie in literary form that delves into the lives of characters both main and fringe to such an extent that by the time you finish reading you’ll feel as though each and every character deserves his or her very own spin-off novel. From Scott, the second-chance-at-life artist, to Layla Mueller, a billionaire heiress who offers Scott shelter from the ensuing media storm, each of Hawley’s characters is so richly drawn and multi-dimensional as to be completely compelling.

 So, what exactly did happen on the doomed flight that left Martha’s Vineyard one foggy night only to crash into the sea a mere sixteen minutes later?  Well, you’ll have to read this book to find out, of course. I highly recommend that you do read this one. As for me, I am eagerly awaiting the already-in-the-works movie. If any book was made for the big screen, this is it.

A real treat!

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