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Tuesday 18 October 2016

‘Before The Fall’ by Noah Hawley

Published by Hodder & Stoughton,
9 June 2016.
ISBN: 978-1-444-77975-2

On a foggy summer’s night a private plane waits to take off from Martha’s Vineyard back to New York. We are introduced to the pilot, the co-pilot and the flight attendant. Then the passengers arrive. The first to board is the Bateman family. David Bateman is a high-profile media mogul, his wife Maggie, a down-to-earth former school teacher. Their two children are with them, nine-year-old Rachel and JJ, four. Accompanying them is their armed security guard, Gil.

The Kiplings then arrive. Ben Kipling is a Wall Street money man, Sarah his wife. Last to board is Scott Burroughs, a failed artist and recovering alcoholic who has been befriended by

The plane takes off.

It crashes eleven minutes later, with only Scott Burroughs and JJ surviving. All this we learn in the first few pages, rather like being introduced to the ensemble cast of a 1970s disaster film. And what follows is a tense mystery thriller. Why did the plane crash? Was it an accident or something more sinister? At first Scott is seen as a hero for saving JJ, but who is he really?

The book alternates between the present and the fall-out of the crash, its effects on Scott Burroughs and JJ and the investigation into its cause, and the past lives of the passengers and crew. Everybody has a past, everybody has a secret. Everybody falls under suspicion.
Noah Hawley knows how to keep you turning the pages. The chapters are short and teasing, they make you want to know more. I said it was a mystery thriller, but it’s more than that. It is a look at the unpredictable nature of the human condition, the dark side of celebrity and the danger of an unscrupulous media. It exposes the high cost of news as entertainment and shows just how random fate can be.

Noah Hawley is arguably better known for his television series, Fargo. This is his fifth book and looks set to be his most successful. I loved it.
Reviewer: Mary-Jane Riley

Noah Hawley is an American film and television producer, screenwriter, composer, and bestselling author, known for creating and writing the FX anthology television series Fargo. He was born in 1967 in New York City and educated at Sarah Lawrence College.

Mary-Jane Riley wrote her first story on her newly acquired blue Petite typewriter. She was eight. It was about a gang of children who had adventures on mysterious islands, but she soon realised Enid Blyton had cornered that particular market. So she wrote about the Wild West instead. When she grew up she had to earn a living, and became a BBC radio talk show presenter and journalist. She has covered many life-affirming stories, but also some of the darkest events of the past two decades.  Then, in true journalistic style, she decided not to let the facts get in the way of a good story and got creative. She wrote for women's magazines and small presses. She formed WriteOutLoud with two writer friends to help charities get their message across using their life stories. Now she is writing psychological suspense, drawing on her experiences in journalism. The Bad Things by Mary-Jane Riley was published by Harper Collins/Killer Reads. Her second book, After She Fell, also published by Killer Reads, is out on April 28th.
In her spare time Mary-Jane likes to walk the dog and eat a lot. Good job she likes walking.

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