Cheap Thrill: Noah Hawley’s Before the Fall


If you’re on my blog, you’re likely well aware that I’m a big fan of books. But what you might not know is that I’m also physically incapable of watching television. Every few months, I halfheartedly ask my friends for recommendations and listen to them wax enthusiastic about the latest Netflix Original or HBO Series, attempt to start it and get approximately two minutes past the theme song before abandoning it – for particularly excellent shows, I might last three or four episodes. And movies? Don’t even talk to me about movies. Haven’t seen one since July. Before you roll your eyes and stop reading, I’ll get to the thesis of this tirade: my version of an addictive TV show is a trashy thriller. Honestly, my brain would most likely be better off if I succumbed to regular viewings of The Crown (sorry guys, but The Crown is fucking boring) or Godless (literally looked away from my screen for one second and half the characters were dead. Give me an Adderall and I’ll consider trying that one again), but there’s no guiltier pleasure (that I’m going to write about in a public forum…kidding, mom) than a poorly-written, sloppily-plotted, overly-twisty thriller in my book (pun intended, hahaha). My most recent pick? Noah Hawley’s Before the Fall.

Before the Fall begins with most of the main characters plunging to their deaths in a mysterious private plane crash off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. The plane belonged to David Whitehead, high-powered news magnate (think Murdoch money), who was flying his wife, nine year-old daughter, and four year-old son J.J. home, along with his friend, fellow billionaire Ben Kipling, Ben’s wife, and a wildcard: painter named Scott Burroughs, who was offered the extra seat at the last minute by David Whitehead’s wife after she saw him at the farmer’s market and found out he was planning to take the ferry home.

Miraculously, the plane crash has two survivors: J.J. and, bien sûr, Scott Burroughs, a trained competitive swimmer. The media—and the police—have questions about how a random, last-minute addition to a flight with no reported mechanical errors and no distress sign emitted ends up as the only living adult…but when they find out that both Ben Kipling and David Whitehead had big things to hide, the potential perpetrator list grows infinitely larger.

If this doesn’t sound like an amazingly overcomplicated and unfeasible plot yet, just wait until you get to the ending and find out what really happened. I can guarantee you it’s unexpected (chiefly because it makes literally no sense). With all that being said…I can promise you that you will not put this book down. Hawley may not be putting out Pulitzer-worthy prose, but he certainly knows how to throw enough red herrings and dead ends into a story to keep the reader captivated until the end. So, if you’re looking for entertainment or not enlightenment, or, if you forgot your brother’s colleague’s cousin’s sister-in-law’s Netflix password (because who actually has their own Netflix account? You’re doing it wrong.), Before the Fall just might be your best bet.


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