Now THIS was the thriller that I searched for all summer and finally found in the fall.
Noah Hawley’s Before the Fall runs the gamut. He masterfully writes a solid mystery with in-depth character development and a fine-tuned examination into human weakness and capacity for survival.
No spoiler alert: The plot all revolves around the crash of a private jet into the Atlantic Ocean, which happens in the first few pages. Shockingly, two survivors surface in the immediate aftermath. Their story alone might have been the sole focus of the book but, fifty pages in, that part of the story is mostly forgotten which just demonstrates the strength of the remainder of the book.
Hawley uses the flashback technique with precision. He develops the character of each passenger on the plane through specifically designated chapters giving glimpses into their lives ‘before the fall’.
He also offers keen insight into the minds and lives of the elite wealthy. Not the kind of people who have two Mercedes and a beach house. The kind that own islands and skyscrapers. He exposes how that type of wealth can be shackling, albeit with gold, and can lead to incredibly flawed decision making.
Mental illness and obsession also play a role in the story. Specifically, how the harmful actions of someone with an unsound mind seem so insane to the outside world, yet completely justifiable in the mind of the one with the illness.
The thread tying everything together is finding the answer to one question: why did that plane fall out of the sky? Mechanical malfunction? Pilot error? Espionage? Terrorism? Revenge? Delving into the psyches of all the main players makes each of these a possibility but, obviously, in the end, there is only one answer. And it is shocking both in its unexpectedness and its simplicity.
This was my first read of Hawley’s but it will definitely not be my last.
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Elizabeth's rating: 4 ½ stars