Before the Fall is nominated in the best novel category, the Edgar Awards 2017. It centres around the crashing of a private plane into the sea near Montauk. The crash takes the lives of all but two of the group of people. The groups are returning to New York from Martha’s Vineyard. The survivors also include the lives of the pilot, co-pilot and cabin crew.
The book goes on to describe the story of the survivors and also those who died. The process of discovering what happened to the plane and how it came to nose dive into the ocean is used as a device to learn more about the people involved. We follow the investigators in their search for the truth building up to the denouement and the discovery of the black box. It is a story of character and connection.
The main character, Scott is one of the survivors. He uses the experience to examine his life as a struggling artist. His attachment to the four-year-old boy who survived with him makes him focus on a future for which he hadn’t planned.
As well as a gripping tale, Hawley examines the role of the media in the wake of disaster. It also includes the intrusion into the lives of those involved. From phone hacking and to the constant need to know and lay bare the minute details of the life of an individual in a society driven by 24hr news and celebrity culture.
This book is beautifully written. The descriptions are to be savoured. Waves are “quilted with froth”, ” the sun low on the horizon, an orange yolk dripped slowly onto a cool meringue”.
Noah Hawley is also a screen writer and “Before the Fall” carries you in its grasp through tragedy and it’s aftermath. It doesn’t let you go until it’s final word just as a really good tv series grips you every episode until the final credits.
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