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, 11 people - 10 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.
©2015 Noah Hawley (P)2016 Hachette Audio
Character-driven, and suspense novels are for me. Not above a good beach read, but keep cheesy romances or poorly written books away.
Finished this 1 minute ago and loved it so much I was motivated to jump right to writing a review. I have discovered my favorite narrator. It doesn't matter who is doing the "talking," he does them all: men, women, and children. I "lived" this book through Robert Petkoff. Whatever the award (given to audio book narration) is - he deserves it. I can't think of anyone on any Audible I've listened to where I've felt this way - he is phenomenal. I won't recap the story since I'm sure you've read the book summary. The mystery, while not the main thrust of the story, remains a mystery until fairly late in the book. Even though I pretty much surmised what happened (probably about when the author wanted the reader to) I was riveted right to the end. I chose the book based solely on the fact Noah Hawley wrote many of the scripts for "Fargo" (the TV series) Season 1 - and I loved Season 1. The story does a great job of chronicling the lives of the rich (yep, they are different), gas bag political TV news as well as what makes people tick. He even does a great job getting into the minds of his female characters, so much so I think he must have had input from his wife, girlfriend...somebody female. Impossible for me to say if I would have loved the book as much if a different narrator had done it. What I can say is I will definitely be looking for other books by him.
Avid listener on my daily commute!
I loved this book as an experience, and looked forward to every possible chance to listen. It made me feel like I was on vacation even though I was commuting long distances to work every day. The narrative structure is ingenious in the way the author goes back and forth in time between the present (the lone adult survivor dealing with survivor guilt, the guardian of the child he saved, and associated others, including a thinly-veiled Bill O'Reilly-based character leading the Fox-newsish media circus) and the past (the individuals killed in the crash, and what they were doing and thinking in the days, hours and minutes before the crash). I especially loved the surprise ending, although unfortunately I slightly spoiled the surprise for myself by buying the print version and looking ahead at chapter titles, wanting to see which character's chapter would be last, believing that whichever character was profiled last would turn out to be the one most directly tied to the crash.
Only a few caveats: First, the narrator is less than fully stellar, occasionally betraying a lack of familiarity with the material with a mispronounced word or a false start using the voice of a character other than the one who is supposed to be speaking. Second, I'm no prude, but at times some of the more vulgar language felt gratuitous to me, almost as if the author threw it in to ensure an R rating, in the mistaken belief that mature readers wouldn't want to read PG-13 material. Readers offended by foul language may want to avoid this book. Lastly, though I'm in awe of the writer's achievement as a whole, it's not great literature by any means; this is not gorgeously wrought prose. There were times when a particularly clunky line ("He f***ed him with his eyes"; "She was out painting the town red with menstrual blood") made me roll my eyes.
Bechdel test: Uh-oh! I'm pretty sure this book fails. There are several named female characters, and a couple of times they do converse, but I just looked back at my print copy, and it appears that every one of their conversations is about a man, at least tangentially. Also, two out of three of the adult females killed in the crash are the only two victims without their own chapters. 😒
I read "Before the Fall" and liked it enough to buy the Audible version. This is a novel that went from good to great with a professional narrator. Robert Petkoff read smoothly, consistently, and confidently. He was clearly comfortable telling this story.
This is the story of a plane that goes down in the ocean. There are survivors, but the story is not just about the survivors. Hawley weaves back and forth as he tells his story, revealing slices of life from each passenger's past while maintaining forward momentum with the story of the survivors.
"Before the Fall" is about a man and a boy who are forced to leave their past and the people they love behind, and coming to terms with the realization that the past can never be entirely left behind.
I bought and listened to this book based on a rave review in the NY Times by Janet Maslin; now I wonder if she and other reviewers were prejudiced to like this book because of the author's wonderful work in tv's "Fargo". The most dramatic event happens in the beginning of the book and the intensity just continues to taper off. Flashbacks can tend to slow down the dramatic arc of a book, and this book is largely flashbacks connected by slow-moving events in the present. The protagonist tends to engage in more and more debates within himself as to, Is this real? Maybe that was real. What IS reality, anyway? When it was finally revealed whodunit, I could only shrug--not a surprise, not interesting. A long run for a short jump.
I'd say the perfect beach read for any of you summer readers looking for the perfect BR, but if you take this one to the beach you won't be doing anything other than reading -- and maybe getting a sunburn, because this is 13 hours of thriller you won't want to set down. I love it when I finally - finally -- come across a book that isn't just a good read, but also the rare grabber you can get lost in. Hours tick by, the tide come in, goes out, the seagulls eat your lunch... If you are a fan of Fargo, you may be familiar with Hawley's myriad of skills. Not a television person myself, I haven't seen the series, but am certainly compelled to do so after reading this book! If he is half the screenplay writer that he is novelist, I am a newly devoted fan.
Hawley writes with a distinct clarity of language, creating a strong narrative with a powerful momentum that doesn't just recount this story, but has you experiencing the story, connected with these characters through profiles that act like connective tissue. Even recalling it to write this review it plays in my head vividly. It's refreshing, original, it doesn't waste a word or miss a move. BTF is a bonafide thriller; a who-dunnit-and-why that continuously expands. It is multiples that intersect with a pounding heavy after effect.
Jumping right in...Hawley crafts the opening mise-en-scène deliciously, infusing the cast with an importance that portends something to come. On a warm summer night in Martha's Vineyard, a private jet readies for take-off, bound for New York. Aboard, a pilot with an outstanding record; a co-pilot that jockeyed his way into this assignment to be with one of the flight attendants; 2 world-class-beauty flight attendants; David Bateman, a multimillionaire media mogul, his wife, Maggie and their two children, 9-year-old Rachel and 4-year-old JJ.; their private security guard Gil; Ben Kipling, a mega star of the financial world currently under investigation by the FBI, and his wife Sarah; and hitching a ride by invitation of Maggie, a 40-something struggling artist and former alcoholic, Scott Burroughs. Each has a story worthy of more than their introduction -- but that is yet to come.The back-stories of each character are revealed as the investigation is carried out. Each personal history seems to suggest some kind of connection to the accident, questioning whether it is purely coincidence or strategy.
18 minutes later, the plane plunges into the Atlantic Ocean. Surviving are Scott and 4 yr. old JJ.
The real meat of the story, and the moral driven to with such force, begins when Scott drags himself and little JJ. out of the drink after an exhausting swim (including fire in the water, wreckage, and sharks) and becomes the *hero.* In an act probably understood by Captain Chesley Sullenberger, *Sully,* after landing US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River, Scott becomes a reluctant hero, craving solace and reflection. In place of a personal and public account, conspiracies began to grow and distort, fanned by a loudmouth news anchorman, Bill Cunningham. From his popular bully pulpit, he conjures up his own scenario of the accident, until once a hero, Scott becomes the villain, suffering all manners of assaults on his person. Here Hawley doubles down and dishes out a hefty serving of what ails our own society. The public clamors for more dirt, hungry for scandal and gossip; Cunningham uses his role of *newsman* and the power he has to bug phones, prey on the families, and twist the truth for ratings..."I make my living off the evening news; Just give me something, Something I can use." Facts don't feed the audience as much as a juicy story and some dirty laundry.
As the investigation concludes it becomes a pyrrhic victory for Scott, and a glaring look at where we are as a society. Instead of giving us a who-dunnit wrapped in a scathing commentary, Hawley gives us a thrilling story where the answers aren't as important as the questions, and the story will leave you wondering where 12 hours just went. I enthusiastically recommend this page-turner!
Everything about the story! It has all the ingredients of a wonderful story, the characters are well developed and the humanity of the main character is extremely touching, aside that Robert Petkoff makes your feel every single character in this book.
YES!!! The way the author develops the story and the way is written as the airplane falls into the ocean first and then you get to meet the people in the airplane.
ALL OF THEM!!!!!!
YOU will NOT regret using your credit for this book!!!!
It was a four-star book until the very end, where the conclusion felt like a let down. Of all the possibilities, this seemed the least plausible. Perhaps that was part of the moral of the story, but still...The characters seem to realign themselves with too much ease. And yet, I had to give the overall story 4 starts because it WAS very entertaining and I will definitely give the author another chance.
I love to read books set in interesting places or historical settings. I especially love mysteries and thrillers.
Praise should be heaped upon the narrator. Petkoff's excellent narration made a good / fair story much better.
I understand why this book is a best-seller. The plot and setting are intriguing. The characters are well-written. My reason for not calling it a great read has more to do with what is missing. This story should have been suspenseful, but it wasn't. The ending, while satisfying, did not wrap up all the questions. My last thought was "Is that it?"
Maybe I am asking for too much from this story. The writer is extremely talented. I looked forward to every listen. The next audiobook out by Noah Hawley will be purchased by me.
Couldn't Stop Listening
This narrator is the best I've listen to so far. I have looked for other stories he has read and am thrilled to see he reads Being Mortal.
I laughed many time throughout the story. I was completely revolted by the "Bill O'Riley" character.
Finally someone says it as it is! This is a look at society today and how the news is reported to us and how we react. Each character is explained and the hero struggles with the defined images forced upon him. And finally a character who challenges these views. Great read. Great discussion book.
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