Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

before the fall

Hawley’s novel begins with the crash of a private jet off the shores of Martha’s Vineyard. On board are very influential people – two survive. As the novel slowly unfolds, the reader finds out the how and why of this final voyage.

Before the Fall won the 2017 Edgar Award for Best Novel and the International Thriller Writer’s Award for Best Novel, and I must say the chapter with the plane crash is one of the most exciting chapters I have read in many years.

I found the writing style odd, however, as Hawley changed tenses back and forth throughout the book, and the plot line was indeed quite slow. But this is a character study. And a surprisingly great ride.

Hawley is a television writer and producer, best known for creating and writing FARGO, the television series. You will see a little of that style of thriller and odd-ball dialogue in this book as well.

I know the ending surprises some people who are not happy at first – but give this book a read and think about the ending for a while. I believe the ending pulls the entire story together and is perfect. Bravo to Hawley for getting us to think.

5 out of 5 stars


Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney

Berney’s psychological mystery reminds me of Kate Atkinson and Laura Lippman. Though not compelling enough to be a thriller, Long and Faraway Gone is not a typical mystery either since the only murder happened 25 years ago in a robbery of a movie theater. Now, Wyatt, our PI hero, is asked to return to Oklahoma City, the setting of that crime, to solve a current harassment case.

At the same time another mystery across town of a missing girl (also from 25 years ago) is being reexamined by the sister of the missing girl. The crippling and shifting memories of these two unsolved crimes drags the two unconnected cases closer and closer. At least in the traumatic memories of both protagonists.

lou-berney-long-faraway-goneThere is a quiet darkness to this story – I can’t really say I enjoyed reading this book, though it will be one of those stories that I remember long after I have forgotten many other stories. It is well written and the characters are well drawn and believable…. At least until the ending when suddenly, both characters (the PI and the sister) remember details of their lives 25 years before! And of course, these details lead to the resolution of the cases.

I learned a great deal about Oklahoma City. But unless you plan to visit there, I am not sure that I can recommend this book over others. I liked Wyatt, and I hope to see him again in other mysteries where there actually is a mystery. Long and Faraway Gone was nominated for both the Anthony and the Barry Awards — but I can only rate it a 3 out of 5.