Friday, June 3, 2016

Before the Fall

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
Grand Central: 5/31/16
eBook review copy; 400 pages
ISBN-13: 9781455561780

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley is a very highly recommended novel of suspense. I thoroughly enjoyed Before the Fall.

Eleven people board a private jet for New York. Sixteen minutes into the flight, the plane disappears from radar and plunges into the ocean. Two passengers survive. One of the survivors is Scott Burroughs,  a painter who was invited on the flight by the wealthy couple who chartered it. The other survivor is JJ, a four year old boy. Scott, who has an injured shoulder, figures out which way land is and swims miles to shore, with JJ, saving the boy's life.

When they make their way to a hospital, Scott makes sure JJ is taken care of before him. He is lauded as a hero for saving the boy's life, but then the media begins to ask questions, along with the NTSB, FBI, and NSA. The media attack is led by Bill Cunningham, a commentator who specializes in speculation, sensationalism, and personal attack tactics.

Part of the accusations and suspicions are because of the other people on the flight. Powerful media mogul and president of the 24 hour ALC News station, David Bateman chartered the flight for his family, including Maggie, his wife, and his two children, Rachel and JJ. They are incredibly wealthy movers and shakers in the news industry. They also suffered through a kidnapping of their daughter years before. Since then they have had plenty of security around them and take precautions to ensure their family is safe.

Ben Kipling and his wife Sarah were invited on the flight. Ben is a Wall Street financier and about to be indicted on a SEC investigation for money laundering. Others on the flight include the private security guard, Gil Baruch, pilot James Melody, copilot Charlie Busch, and flight attendant Emma Lightner.

People are questioning why Scott, an alcoholic and painter, was invited on the flight by Maggie, and why he survived. Scott tries to hide from the media, but the accusations are becoming increasingly accusatory and insidious. The various federal investigators are also wondering why Scott survived and are looking at him closely.

Hawley effectively uses flashbacks to tell the story of each of the passengers, which helps increase the intrigue and explains why the investigation into the crash is so fraught with speculation. The plot becomes increasingly complicated when various back stories are revealed and as Bill Cunningham up his personal attacks to sheer malicious conjecture. The tension continues to rise as each person's story is told, the search for the wreckage and bodies is underway, and the media and some of the federal investigators become increasingly obsessed with Scott.

Before the Fall is a perfect summer novel. All of the characters are well developed because we get their backstory. It is extremely well written with a compelling plot and subject matter that is timely. We are a media obsessed society where we analyze every little detail of a news story, while overlook other, bigger stories that haven't been sensationalized - or had videos that have gone viral. Who are we to throw accusations at a survivor of a tragedy? Do we really need intensive news coverage over every little incident? Do we need constant speculation about a tragic accident? 

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Grand Central Publishing for review purposes

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