A thriller with heart

Before the Fall - Noah Hawley

There’s a private jet that takes off from Martha’s Vineyard on a foggy August night. 11 people board the plane, most of who are wealthy.  Scott Burroughs, a struggling artist, has befriended one of the wives, Maggie, who has invited him to fly to New York with them.  16 minutes after taking off, the plane plunges to the sea.  One of the men survives, along with a 4-year-old boy.  This is the story of their survival in the ocean and the search thereafter for the plane debris, bodies and the reason why the plane went down.  The media, of course, pounces on the tragic ending of these wealthy people.


The book starts off with the plane crash and lightly touches on the passengers. After the crash and the exciting aftermath of the ocean dangers for the man and boy, the book goes back to enlighten the reader as to each of the characters involved and their individual stories.  The book fluctuates between the back stories and the time after the crash.


The highlight of the book is the relationship between the surviving man and the little boy and the bond that the tragic event created between them. I loved these two and longed for healing for them both.  I also very much enjoyed the descriptions of the artist’s paintings and wish they really existed so I could see them, especially the tornado painting.  What I didn’t care as much for was the author’s writing of conversations between the characters.  He structured his conversations by using broken fragments, which I think was his effort to make the conversation sound authentic since we don’t often speak in full sentences.  But the effect was annoying to me and actually made the conversations seem phony.


If you’re looking for an exciting thriller with lots of action, you’d be disappointed with this book. But it has a well-written plot which could have ended up in several directions which will keep you guessing, though probably not right up to the end.


It was a fun, enjoyable read. Recommended.