Wednesday, August 24, 2016


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Before the Fall, Noah Hawley, Grand Central Publishing, 2016, 390 pp

Summary from Goodreads: 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.  

My Review:
I began my August reading with this bestselling mystery/thriller, read for one of my reading groups. It seems to me that books written by TV writers (Hawley wrote the Fargo series) have similarities: lots of action and dialogue makes them page turners and are so entertaining I forgive them certain literary lapses.

Before the Fall features uber rich people, financial crime, the horrors of our now commonplace 24 hour news cycle, a plane crash, and an anti-hero who is also a painter. Another painter!

There were eleven people on the private jet that mysteriously crashed after only 16 minutes in the air. The painter and a seven-year-old boy were the only survivors. An investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, the FAA, the FBI, and the Treasury Department all get involved in solving the mystery. The painter, who rescued the boy, is tormented by most of the investigators as well as by a crazy right wing cable TV commentator. 

You also get more or less extensive back stories on all the passengers and personnel on the plane. The tangled threads of all these individuals provide plenty of tension and juicy details. I felt like my life is tame in comparison.

It was an entertaining read all the way up to an unexplained ending which pretty much ruined the book for me. All I could think was, what? But I have to hand it to Noah Hawley for creating an accurate picture of life in America in the 21st century.


  1. Sounds like an entertaining book :)

  2. I thought it was a fun read that also gave us something to think about in the way that the media cover such tragedies. Or indeed the way they cover everything. Sensationalism always seems to be what they strive for.

  3. Everyone seems to be reading this book lately. The plot sounds engrossing.

  4. Gosh now I'm trying to remember the exact ending. I finished this one this summer and also was let down by the ending -- I think it deserved something more explosive like a twist of sorts. But it was anticlimactic as I recall. But now I can't remember -- mechanical? I'll have to get it off the shelves again

    1. Ooh, I want to tell you, but spoilers!