Prather’s Pick: A must-read thriller
Isn’t it wonderful when you find a book that you just can’t put down? This week’s book is one of them. “Before the Fall” was written by Noah Hawley. He is an award-winning author, screenwriter, and producer, receiving an Emmy, Golden Globe, PEN, Critics Choice and Peabody Award. He was the writer and producer for the television series “Bones.” Currently he is executive producer, writer and showrunner on the “Fargo” series.
“Before the Fall” is a novel that begins at Martha’s Vineyard where 11 people are boarding a private jet for a flight to New York. The plane is set to take off at 10 p.m. The night is warm but foggy. Some of the passengers are concerned about the fog but are assured that a few hundred feet above sea level and they will be out of the fog.
Among the passengers is David Bateman, a wealthy and powerful man whose business is with a 24-hour news network. He’s married to Maggie, a retired teacher, and they have two children, 9-year-old Rachel and JJ who is 4. Maggie and the children have been vacationing at Martha’s Vineyard. Rachel was kidnapped some years ago so now the family has security and bullet-proof glass.
Ben and Sarah Kipling, another wealthy couple, are also on the flight. Sarah doesn’t know it (or the Batemans, either), but Ben is about to be arrested on charges related to some “irregularities” in the financial market.
Scott Burroughs, a struggling painter (artist) barely makes the plane. He’s in his mid-40s and looks pretty shaggy compared to the other elite passengers. He is a struggling artist, indeed, who knows Maggie and her children. This morning when they met up at the farmers market, he told Maggie that he was going to New York so she invited him to accompany them on the plane.
Then there’s Captain James Melody, First-Officer Charlie Busch, Emma Lightmer, flight attendant, and Gil Baruch, security.
Soon the plane is in the air — but not for long. Sixteen minutes after take-off the plane crashes into the ocean.
Miraculously, Scott Burroughs survives the crash. It is a coal black night, and the water is freezing, but Scott finds JJ, who has also survives. Despite the cold water, waves, and the possibility that sharks might attack them, Scott finds a way to swim to safety with the little boy. When they find land, Scott realizes that they are in New York, possibly swimming 10 to 15 miles.
Later, at the hospital it begins — an investigation led by Gus Franklin of the National Transportation Safety Board. Others from agencies such as the FBI and FAA are there, too, and the media news vans are parked outside, waiting for word about the two survivors, especially the hero, Scott Burroughs.
The novel progresses, some chapters dealing with the investigation and others as back stories about the crash victims. There are even some short descriptions of Scott’s paintings, interspersed between chapters.
There are other intriguing characters in the novel, such as Bill Cunningham, who works as anchor at David Bateman’s station. He will do just about anything to get a story, ethical or not. Maggie’s sister Eleanor and husband Doug enter the story because they will raise JJ — and manage the fortune he will inherit.
Meanwhile, what caused the plane to crash into the ocean?
“Before the Fall” is published by Grand Central Publishing (2016). The hardcover book costs $26.00. The book can also be found at the Craig Moffat County Library.
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