Thursday, February 16, 2017

Book Review: Before the Fall by Noah Hawley, narrated by Robert Petkoff (audio)

Almost all of the audiobooks I listen to are nonfiction. But I decided to give this one a try. I listened to one audio novel last year, which was the first in a very time, and thought I should try one again. Also lately I'd changed up my audiobook listening tactic a bit in a way I thought would work better for fiction: trying to listen to it in a few giant chunks over just a few days. And this one was great. I had planned to listen to it over 3-4 days but I got so sucked in that it only took me 2 days to listen to the whole thing.

The narrator started out sounding like a news reporter which was exactly the right tone for this book, as news plays a big role in it. A small private plane goes down off the coast of Martha's Vineyard and Scott survives. He's about to start swimming away from the fiery wreckage when he hears a small voice and he finds a young boy who also survived. He swims 10 miles to the Massachusetts coast with the boy clinging to his back and with a dislocated shoulder. Naturally, the news media jumps on this story. But Scott, a not very successful painter, isn't interested in being famous, especially not due to an event that killed many other people. But the man who chartered the plane was the CEO of a Fox-News-like news channel, so it's big news nevertheless and he finds himself pursued relentlessly. Meanwhile, the NTSB and others are trying to piece together what  happened. And the "now" chapters about Scott and the investigation and the little boy are interspersed with chapters telling each of the other passengers' and crew members' stories leading up to the fatal flight.

It was a gripping story, with plenty of intrigue and suspense. Another passenger was a banker, essentially laundering money from countries illegal for Americans to do business with who was due to be arrested the following day. Scott painted pictures of disasters—including a plane crash. There are rumors of sabotage or even a bomb. If so, who was the target? If not, what went wrong and how and why? The anchor on the new channel keeps the stories going and keeps up the pressure on the government to find out answers. At the very end (this isn't a spoiler) I was unclear about what and when Scott knew what he suddenly knew, but that isn't very material to the story overall. The narration was terrific. One character was a British ex-pat, another was Israeli, and there was the boy, and several women, and the voices were all terrific. I just had to find out more. And more. And I kept listening and couldn't put it down. A perfect distraction for a wintry weekend.

I downloaded this eaudiobook from my library via Overdrive.

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