Thursday, July 12, 2018

Before the Fall Paperback – June 6, 2017 by Noah Hawley ( Grand Central Publishing)

Scott, an undistinguished painter, a recovering alcoholic, and a general sad sack, runs into a woman he knows casually while at the farmer's market on Martha's Vineyard. He's there for the summer to paint, she's there with her family to enjoy life as one of the mega-rich. They chat, she mentions that they'll be returning to New York that evening. Scott intends to return to the city the next morning and is offered a free ride back on their private jet. He accepts. And then the unthinkable happens. The plane crashes into the ocean just minutes after departure killing all on board except Scott and the four year old son of the woman and her renowned husband.

The chapter that follows this terrible crash is one of the most exciting and well written I've read. Scott's disorientation is palpable as he comes to consciousness. The sea is dark, the sky is foggy, no stars can be seen to guide him. And then the whimpering cries of the boy reach his ears. I'm not giving anything away to say that they survived. But why should the plane have crashed? Many authorities believe it to be sabotage. One of the other passengers was about to be indicted for some big financial crime. Speculation runs wild amount the investigation agencies and the press.

We get short chapters defining the personal histories of all the passengers and crew on board. Okay, fine. This device isn't new and usually serves to let the reader have some investment in the outcome. As I stated, the "escape" from the sea was a thrilling bit of writing. The supporting players bios began to get a little tedious as the info was parceled out sparingly. I was losing interest in the outcome at about 70% but stuck with it anyway.

And then, what happened? Suddenly we're at the end and rather than giving the reader a unique and original ending, the author wrapped up the mystery with something ripped right from the headlines. I felt cheated, duped, in fact. So you may want to wait for the price to drop before committing to purchase this book. I will say that the writing is fine but it seems to me that the author merely tacked on an easy ending that took no thought at all

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