REVIEW: Before The Fall by Noah Hawley

Series: N/A

Book Number: N/A

Read this book for: uniquely suspenseful thriller, fantastic writing, gripping story, brillian character drama, whodunnit

Quick Review: A unique, brilliant, and utterly gripping thriller that will not let you put it down once you start it. Absolutely add this one to your to-read list – you will not be disappointed!


A private jet departs Martha’s Vineyard for New York, carrying two wealthy families and one unknown painter. Sixteen minutes later, it plummets into the ocean, the only survivors a four-year-old boy and Scott, the painter. As the histories of the passengers and crew come to light, the ultimate question gets harder and harder to answer: who caused the plane to crash, and why?

BEFORE THE FALL was written by Noah Hawley, who has won awards in multiple categories and media, most recently for his creation and writing of the TV show Fargo (which you should absolutely watch if you enjoy crime fiction). This novel feels very similar to his work on Fargo, and does not disappoint at all.

Actually, in many places, the novel reads much like a screenplay. Hawley’s style of brief, snappy character descriptions, compelling dialogue, and visceral visual imagery carries over from scripts to this novel. It makes for an incredibly immersive read, as though there is nothing between the reader and the experience of the story.

The actual structure of the narrative also would be at home on a screen. The story moves forward and backward at the same time, as the investigation into the crash progresses and the motivations of the various characters are revealed one-by-one in obituary-like flashbacks that perfectly capture the essence of the characters, portray their last days and introduce a fascinating web of events that all could have bearing on the crash.

The motives for the crash are one of the things that are most interesting about the novel. Every character seems to have one (like a classic whodunnit), but there is also a series of startling occurrences which may or may not have meaning – for example, the subject of the painter’s work, the conversation of the ground crew, the personal issues of the family members. However, unlike the typical whodunnit, not all of these things actually have meaning in the final analysis. Some are just coincidence. The ending also takes this randomness of life into account, which really makes the entire book more realistic and believable.

The characters also have their own inconsistencies and failings, which also helps to add to the reality of the novel, and to keep you hooked, waiting to see what they will do next. They are so much more interesting with their various flaws, and much harder to predict.

Absolutely read BEFORE THE FALL; it is a masterful thriller – absolutely absorbing and easy to end up reading in one sitting.

2 thoughts on “REVIEW: Before The Fall by Noah Hawley

Leave a Reply