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'Before the Fall' is a Thrill Ride

Noah Hawley is an Emmy, Golden Globe, and Peabody Award-winning author, screenwriter and producer, and most recently an executive producer, writer, and show runner for the TV series Fargo. Hawley is also a writer of novels, and his latest, Before the Fall, is a thrill ride of a book, a perfect summer beach read.   

Within 16 minutes of takeoff, a small private plane crashes mysteriously into the Atlantic Ocean, killing all but two people on board. The passengers include a TV news mogul, his wife, and their young son; a financier just days from an indictment and his wife; a veteran pilot and his copilot assigned just before takeoff; a flight attendant serving the rich but remaining invisible; and an artist friend of one of the wives, invited at the last minute. 

The artist and the young boy are the only survivors. What follows is the investigation by the FAA and TV news into whether the crash was an accident or the result of foul play. Alternating between the backstory of the passengers and the aftermath of the crash, Hawley introduces red herrings and hints at what might have happened as we move at full throttle to what actually occurred during the brief flight.   

I appreciated Hawley’s indirect commentary on the 24-hour news cycle from multiple perspectives--the owners, the on-air talent--and the havoc that is wreaked as the news teams dig and dredge until some kind of story emerges. 

Hawley is a man of many talents; he has written a meaty novel, expanding far beyond his screenwriting abilities.