Before the Fall is a new thriller from Noah Hawley. I would say that my anticipation rate for this book was about medium, and then I started reading it and somehow lost an entire weekend. In the story, eleven people leave Martha’s Vineyard in a private jet after a summer weekend heading home to New York. Less than twenty minutes later, the plane has crashed into the ocean and there are only two survivors; Scott, a painter who was only hitching a ride with rich friends, and JJ, a four year old boy he barely knows. Incredibly, Scott swims eight hours in the dark with a hurt shoulder and with JJ clinging to him until he finally reaches land. This is all somehow the first chapter.
The rest of the book runs along three storylines. First, it examines each of the passengers and crew and how they ended up on the plane that night, including the family of the boy who are incredibly rich and have been targeted for violence prior to this flight. Nearly everyone onboard has a questionable past, which builds the suspense and mystery of this not at all clear cut accident. Secondly, we follow the various agencies who are investigating the crash which is immediately a cluster. Lastly, we follow the post-accident life of Scott and of JJ, together and apart, as they struggle with the attention and notoriety.
It’s hard to even categorize this book – I said thriller above, but it’s just as much of a mystery and a novel. It’s successful on every level, to the point that I am in no hurry at all to get back on a plane. There are so many false leads and interesting twists, I genuinely had a hard time leaving the story for any period of time. Overall, I would say that it’s a great beach read, but probably don’t read it while flying.
Grade – A-