Review: Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

Before I even picked it up I knew I’d be in safe hands with anything written by Noah Hawley. Noah’s the guy behind the Fargo TV series – he should know how to plot an engrossing storyline. Before the Fall doesn’t disappoint – it’s a decent suspense novel (an ideal holiday read if you’ve got a long flight ahead of you or are heading out for a day at the beach).

Scott Burroughs is a down at heel painter who has somehow bagged a ride on a private jet. On board is a controversial multimillionaire TV mogul, his wife Maggie, their two kids, an investment banker with some shady connections, and his wife. Twenty minutes later, the jet crashes into the sea, leaving Scott and 4 year old JJ the only survivors.

That’s just the first chapter (see what I mean when I said Hawley knows how to write an engrossing storyline?).

Before Scott and JJ are even dry, the few facts we have about the disaster leave a vacuum that begins to be filled by questions and speculation – Was it terrorism? Was it the banker’s less-than-reputable clients? Why won’t Scott be interviewed? Why is he so friendly with the only other survivor? How is he involved? What was he doing on the flight anyway?

Throw into the mix a journalist who cares less for facts than he does for courting controversy, and an alcoholic uncle who is wants to make a play for the millions the boy stands to inherit, and you’ve got a novel where the pages turn themselves.

But there’s more to Before the Fall than the mere entertainment. If, as the saying goes, we get what we deserve, then do we also get the news we deserve? What happens when news becomes entertainment? Or when the pressure to be first outweighs the pressure to be right? Hawley pulls no punches as he explores the very worst of news organisations – there were shades of the Milly Dowler phone hacking in here, along with a caricatures of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh (there might be more, but my knowledge of US TV presenters isn’t that deep).

Ultimately, there is a story of hope. If we get the news we deserve, then we get the heroes we deserve too, and there are at least 3 in here – all of them rallying around a newly orphaned kid struggling to cope with the loss of his family.

Yep, I recommend this one a lot. If you’re after an easy read that entertains from the get-go, then this is the one for you.


So what do you think? Have you read it? Did you like it? Would you recommend it?

Let me know in the comments!


Already read this one? Well if you’re after a recommendation along similar lines, then why not try the Dry by Jane Harper:

Review: The Dry by Jane Harper - Jane Harper's debut novel is probably the most absorbing crime novel I've read all year. I loved it.
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