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Before the Fall

By: Noah Hawley

Publisher: Hachette Trade

Imprint: Grand Central

Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9781455561797

Other Formats:

Hardcover | Audio

On Sale: | Pages: 416

  • About the Book
  • Reviews
From the Emmy, PEN, Peabody, Critics' Choice, and Golden Globe Award-winning creator of the TV show Fargo" comes the" thriller of the year. On a foggy summer night, eleven people-ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter-depart Martha's Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs-the painter-and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul's family. With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the crash and the backstories of the passengers and crew members-including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot-the mystery surrounding the tragedy heightens. As the passengers' intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy. Was it merely by dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations. And while Scott struggles to cope with fame that borders on notoriety, the authorities scramble to salvage the truth from the wreckage. Amid pulse-quickening suspense, the fragile relationship between Scott and the young boy glows at the heart of this stunning novel, raising questions of fate, human nature, and the inextricable ties that bind us together.
There are lush asides regarding art, travel, and the tact of determined lawmen, but Before the Fall is a book that waxes most poetically over the problem of money, which its characters seem to see as a neutral force.... There are a few snags in the fabric of Hawley's brilliant fabrication. That a failed but savvy artist such as Burroughs, a man who has found a redemptive phase by painting disasters, would be able to recall Andy Warhol's elusive interview style but not think back to the Pop artist's own “disaster series” does not seem like an intentional omission on the author's part but more like a mistake. It's the type of problem that can spread doubt over the veracity of every other expert-sounding detail, be it a basket of berries or a bit of bodyguard gear. But no matter, Hawley has provided his fans with the ultimate irony: a best-seller that is also a Marxist critique.
—Dallas Morning News
Some of the characters' potted histories are relevant, while others throw up red herrings in the ensuing enquiry. Readers' task is to weigh what is happenstance and what is destiny.... “Before the Fall” lies somewhere on the continuum between crime and literary fiction; if it's not quite Jonathan Franzen, nor is it Robert Ludlum. Echoes of suspenseful television favorites are hardly incidental given Mr. Hawley's recent work on FX hit “Fargo.” This is a pretty much ideal summer vacation read—though you might think twice about taking it on a plane.
—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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 view — but 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.
—New York Times
You simply must read BEFORE THE FALL. I was put in the mind of THE BRIDGE OF SAN LUIS REY here, Dr. Strangelove there, and a whole bunch of other books I have read over the last 60 years that I still remember fondly. I can't give you any higher recommendation than that.... BEFORE THE FALL is brilliantly constructed and wonderfully told. This is no surprise to those of us familiar with Hawley's screenplay work (the “Fargo” television series, to name just one), but the novel should inspire readers to search for his literary backlist. This is 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.
—Bookreporter.com
...savvy and absorbing... Mr. Hawley withholds the unpredictable truth about the plane crash until the final chapters, though veteran readers of thrillers may not be particularly impressed by the tricks he uses to draw out the suspense... The real satisfaction of this addictive novel is in the face-off between Burroughs and the media mob spearheaded by Cunningham and his tabloid shock troops.
—Wall Street Journal
...[a] terrific thriller... It's an irresistible mystery and, for the icing on his fictional cake, Hawley adds a satirical portrait of a cable news star named Bill Cunningham that will delight some readers and outrage others.... Hawley, the author of four previous novels and the creator of the TV show “Fargo,” here has spun a tale that's at once an intriguing puzzle, a tasty satire and a painful story of human loss.
—Washington Post
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 artfully filled “Before the Fall” with enough red herrings to satisfy a flock of sea gulls.... Mr. Hawley has made it very, very easy to race through his book in a state of breathless suspense. Get to that endpoint. Then you can decide.
—New York Times
...[a] terrific thriller... It's an irresistible mystery and, for the icing on his fictional cake, Hawley adds a satirical portrait of a cable news star named Bill Cunningham that will delight some readers and outrage others.... Hawley, the author of four previous novels and the creator of the TV show “Fargo,” here has spun a tale that's both an intriguing puzzle and a painful story of human loss.
—Washington Post
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