Hype and advertising and celebrity can certainly get a reader to pick up a novel and read the first few pages. After that, it's all about the words and the characters, the heart and soul of the story. I had no doubt that Hawley could write, that he could create amazing characters, that he had an ear for dialogue and a unique point of viewbut could he write a successful novel? The answer, as readers of his four earlier books probably know already, is a resounding yes…Noah Hawley really knows how to keep a reader turning the pages, but there's more to the novel than suspense. On one hand,
Before the Fall is a complex, compulsively readable thrill ride of a novel. On the other, it is an exploration of the human condition, a meditation on the vagaries of human nature, the dark side of celebrity, the nature of art, the power of hope and the danger of an unchecked media. The combination is a potent, gritty thriller that exposes the high cost of news as entertainment and the randomness of fate.
The New York Times Book Review - Kristin Hannah
…ingeniously nerve-racking…If you didn't already know that Mr. Hawley is a celebrated storyteller, you'll know it before you finish the first page of [
Before the Fall]…This is one of the year's best suspense novels, a mesmerizing, surprise-jammed mystery that works purely on its own, character-driven terms…Mr. Hawley does a beautiful job of turning his book into an extended tease, with separate chapters about each passenger and revelations about why each could have been a target…Mr. Hawley has made it very, very easy to race through his book in a state of breathless suspense.
The New York Times - Janet Maslin
Hawley, an Emmy-winning television producer and writer, starts his fifth novel with a riveting event that reader Petkoff dramatizes to full effect: on a moonless night, a private plane carrying 11 people from Martha’s Vineyard to New York, crashes into the Atlantic. Scott Burroughs, a young artist, survives. He’s preparing for an impossibly long swim with a damaged shoulder when he discovers another survivor, a four-year-old boy. Hawley makes their swim as arduous as possible, with Petkoff adding a breathlessness to Burroughs’s progress and terror to the boy’s fearful cries. Their arrival on shore is just the start of a book that is part mystery (what caused the crash?), part thriller (past the swim, Burroughs is subjected to ruthless and uncompromising media scrutiny), and part social study (Hawley provides complex backstories of those aboard the flight, from the pilot and crew to the wealthy, powerful passengers). In unfolding the story, Hawley sets a fast pace, hopscotching from present to past. Petkoff delivers each shift in chronology and in characters smoothly and clearly, adding the proper emotional touches but being careful to narrate this story of redemption without sentimentality. A Grand Central hardcover. (May)
Publishers Weekly - Audio
Emmy-, Golden Globe–, and Peabody Award–winning television producer and screenwriter Hawley’s fifth novel is a masterly blend of mystery, suspense, tragedy, and shameful media hype. When a corporate jet carrying 11 crashes into the ocean just 16 minutes into a nighttime flight from Martha’s Vineyard to New York in August 2015, only two people survive—Scott Burroughs, a middle-aged former drunk and minor artist, and a four-year-old boy. Scott saves the boy, swimming to shore and into a frenzy of media-shaped hero worship, federal investigations of terrorism and criminal activity, and sudden media-driven accusations of financial exploitation. Hawley cleverly uses flashback chapters for each of the passengers to reveal that one victim was a wealthy mogul, head of a 24-hour cable news network that didn’t just report the news, but proudly manufactured it; one victim was a Wall Street financier about to be indicted for money laundering; and the other victims, including an armed bodyguard, also had curious pasts. Scott’s life is an escalating nightmare of media hounding and federal suspicion. His only salvation is a thoughtful, deliberate NTSB investigator who focuses on facts, not speculation. This is a gritty tale of a man overwhelmed by unwelcome notoriety, with a stunning, thoroughly satisfying conclusion. (May)
"This is one of the year's best suspense novels, a mesmerizing, surprise-jammed mystery that works purely on its own, character-driven terms....Mr. Hawley has made it very, very easy to race through his book in a state of breathless suspense."—
Janet Maslin, New York Times "BEFORE THE FALL is a ravishing and riveting beauty of a thriller. It's also a deep exploration of desire, betrayal, creation, family, fate, mortality, and rebirth. It's one part Dennis Lehane, one part Dostoevsky. I was spellbound from first page to last; I haven't fully recovered yet."— Michael Cunningham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Hours "Noah Hawley really knows how to keep a reader turning the pages, but there's more to the novel than suspense. On one hand, BEFORE THE FALL is a complex, compulsively readable thrill ride of a novel. On the other hand, it is an exploration of the human condition, a meditation on the vagaries of human nature, the dark side of celebrity, the nature of art, the power of hope and the danger of an unchecked media. The combination is a potent, gritty thriller that exposes the high cost of news as entertainment and the randomness of fate."— Kristin Hannah, New York Times Book Review "[A] terrific thriller...an irresistible mystery.. a tale that's both an intriguing puzzle and a painful story of human loss."— Patrick Anderson, Washington Post "Imagine that Agatha Christie had set a closed-room mystery on an airplane and included Wall Street and entertainment executive types in her lineup of suspects. Now imagine that airplane crashing into the Atlantic before the story even gets going....Mr. Hawley, the expert TV showrunner, obviously had the skills to pull this off."— New York Times, "The Top Books of 2016" "I started and finished BEFORE THE FALL in one day. That begins to tell you what kind of smart, compellingly dramatic read it is. So read it."— James Patterson, #1 New York Times bestselling author and winner of the National Book Foundation's 2015 Literarian Award "A masterly blend of mystery, suspense, tragedy, and shameful media hype...a gritty tale of a man overwhelmed by unwelcome notoriety, with a stunning, thoroughly satisfying conclusion."— Publishers Weekly (starred review) "A pulse-pounding story, grounded in humanity."— Booklist (starred review) "BEFORE THE FALL is an astonishing, character-driven tour-de-force. The story is a multi-layered, immersive examination of truth, relationships, and our unquenchable thirst for the media's immediate explanation of unfathomable tragedy."— Karin Slaughter, #1 internationally bestselling author "Savvy and absorbing... cathartic...BEFORE THE FALL is about the gulf that separates perception and truth, and the people who fall into it."— Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal "BEFORE THE FALL kicks ass. A surefire summer read." — Justin Cronin, New York Times bestselling author of The Passage and City of Mirrors "Like the successful screenwriter that he is, Hawley piles on enough intrigues and plot complications to keep you hooked."— Kirkus Reviews "This isn't just a good novel; it's a great one. I trusted no one in these pages, yet somehow cared about them all. BEFORE THE FALL brings a serrated edge to every character, every insight, and every wicked twist."— Brad Meltzer, bestselling author of The President's Shadow "Noah Hawley soon veers his highly entertaining novel into an insightful look at families, revenge and media intrusion...Hawley invests the same care with a soupcon of dark humor into BEFORE THE FALL as he does on the TV series 'Fargo'...superb and cleverly constructed."— Associated Press "A riveting beach read."— People, "The Best New Books" "[A] page-turner."— Vanity Fair "A remarkable and memorable accomplishment by any standard...BEFORE THE FALL is brilliantly constructed and wonderfully told.... a tale that will haunt you long after you read the last page, even as you wish the narrative was twice as long, for all the right reasons."— Book Reporter "Essential reading this summer for anyone who likes a good story well told...You won't read a more thoughtful page-turner anytime soon...irresistibly cinematic."— St. Louis Post-Dispatch "Remarkably fun to read, filled with suspense, memorable characters and incredibly visual scenes...a compulsive experience."— Austin American-Statesman "Compulsively written and involving, BEFORE THE FALL is a stunning inquiry into human drive and desire...A powerful and genuinely surprising work."— The Saturday Star "Abundant chills and thrills...Noah Hawley's novel grabs you by the throat and won't let go...BEFORE THE FALL is storytelling at its best, as Hawley presents a range of diverse characters with rich histories... Seeds of doubt are cast in what is sure to be the summer book you won't want to miss."— The Missourian "In the hands of a writer like Noah Hawley, who knows how to build tension from mundane moments, it is a remarkable thriller that most readers will find difficult to put down...it moves toward a breathless ending."— The Washington Times "A complex exploration of human nature in an age of celebrity."— Pittsburgh Post-Gazette "Won [our] hearts and minds...it will be the big talker of the summer."— New York Post, "Summer's Hottest Reads" "[The] thriller of the summer."— The Baltimore Sun "The crash and the flashbacks recall Lost and Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer-winning novel, The Bridge Over San Luis Rey, and Scott's travails are the lot of every hero in a conspiratorial thriller going back to The 39 Steps."— Slate "BEFORE THE FALL will seize you on the first page and never let you go, as you follow the story of a plane crash and the complicated and confusing investigation about why it happened."— Vanity Fair, "The 5 Must-Read Books for the Last Five Weeks of Summer" "Fast-paced, mysterious...reads like a great episode of TV."— The Tennessean
A private jet carrying 11 people crashes off the Atlantic coast. There are only two survivors—struggling artist Scott Burroughs and the four-year-old he saves, the son of a powerful network executive. Chapters alternate between the present-day investigation of what happened and the backstories of all those who were on the ill-fated flight. The stories of the passengers, pilots, and flight attendant, plus the investigators and surviving relatives, provide acute character studies that complement the brisk storytelling. As Scott develops a bond with the boy, events begin to spiral out of control as accusations fly and the media spin their tales. Robert Petkoff's narration is engaging and effectively portrays a diverse set of characters. VERDICT A great summer listening experience that will be popular with fans of mystery and suspense fiction. ["Rich with a compelling narrative, suspenseful plot twists, and engaging characters, this fourth novel…by an Emmy Award-winning producer…promises to be the must-read thriller of the summer": LJ Xpress Review 4/15/16 starred review of the Grand Central hc.]—Phillip Oliver, formerly with Univ. of North Alabama, Florence
In the latest by TV writer and novelist Hawley (The Good Father, 2012, etc.), a struggling artist becomes a hero twice—first by saving a young boy's life, then by outsmarting the anchor of a Fox-like conservative TV network. A small charter plane mysteriously crashes into the water off Martha's Vineyard, leaving only two survivors: the painter Scott Burroughs and JJ, the young son of the network owner who chartered the flight. In a well-turned rescue sequence, Scott braves the waves and sharks and makes dry land with JJ on his back. From there, the book is part whodunit and part study of Scott's survivor's guilt. Flashbacks trace the back story of each doomed passenger: network head David Bateman and his wife, Maggie, who may have had a thing for Scott; financier Ben Kipling, about to be tried for laundering terrorist money; flight attendant Emma Lightner, who recently jilted co-pilot Charlie Busch. While the rescue team works to figure out who crashed the plane, Scott struggles to get his bearings—no small feat when wealthy socialite Layla Mueller is trying hard to get him into bed and when O'Reilly-like anchorman Bill Cunningham is harassing him for an interview. Like the successful screenwriter that he is, Hawley piles on enough intrigues and plot complications to keep you hooked even if you can spot most of them a sea mile away.