Before the Fall: A Novel
Author: Noah Hawley
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (2016)
Hardcover Edition: 390 pages
Source: Library copy
Critics have been crazy about this book. It’s been on my want-to-read list for weeks. Noah Hawley is a television and movie writer who is responsible for Fargo (it’s kooky, but I liked it) and other successful series. He has won an Emmy, Golden Globe and other awards. He has written several novels, though I have not read any of them. This novel reads something like a movie script.
But for me, that did not make for a mesmerizing, or thrilling story. Some characters are so sinister, the reading so tough, skimming seems the only strategy. There are too many red herrings in this mystery. Some characters seem unnecessary and certainly uninteresting to me.
The main character Scott Burroughs, who along with the four-year-old he carries on his back as he swims many miles, survives this plane crash. All others on the plane are lost. As usual, it is of interest what caused the plane to crash, and that provides the suspense necessary to sustain a novel.
Media suffers a whipping in this story, as is popular these days. The villain is so despicable, and even unbelievable that, for this reader he is the downfall of the book. I didn’t want to read about him. I do not enjoy hating. And he is not the only character who acts poorly or is just uninteresting. Most fall into that category.
Give the critics their due, they mostly agree it’s a very good book. They praise suspense, irony, mystery filled with surprises; they pronounce it readable, complex, irresistible and so forth. This reader checks none of those boxes.
I cannot recommend it as an enjoyable read. Tragedy is filled with sorrow. But that is not what the book is about. It is about just how horribly some people act toward others. And evil (a word I seldom use) seems to win out over decency and kindness. Not my kind of book.