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Since We Fell


Since We Fell

SINCE WE FELL has something for everyone: vociferous readers, folks who haven’t cracked the binding on a book in years, thriller aficionados, romance readers, everyone. Author Dennis Lehane has a tendency to slide across genre barriers anyway, and does so here with great aplomb while tossing prizes from the pages to the readers like a politician in a parade. It’s an addicting read, one that you won’t set aside easily and likely will never forget.

A woman named Rachel Childs shoots her husband while they are on a boat in the middle of Boston Harbor. As she watches his body topple over the side, she reminisces just enough about her past to tug us into the first chapter, where the biographical information takes off in earnest. As a child, Rachel never knew her father; his identity was hidden by her mother, a complex woman who quite unexpectedly became a bestselling author but died prematurely while Rachel was still a young lady.

"[T[his is unquestionably one of Lehane’s most striking books, which, considering his body of work, is really saying something."

A good deal of the first half of SINCE WE FELL reads somewhat like general fiction (except for those first few pages, of course) as we watch Rachel hunt for her birth father and acquire a prestigious position as an on-air personality with a Boston television station, only to lose it all when she experiences a dramatic yet (under the circumstances) very understanding meltdown during a live remote report. The incident and the events leading up to it leave Rachel with a tainted notoriety, which, when combined with her preexisting mental state, causes her to be reluctant and unable to leave her home. This gradually changes when a casual acquaintance of hers becomes much, much more and helps turn her life around.

A reader could be forgiven for thinking that he or she has stumbled into an incredibly well-written romantic novel where a troubled woman meets an understanding man who assists in getting her feet back underneath her so that she can stand on her own and accomplish great things. There is still that opening vignette, though, which you will almost forget, until... Lehane doesn’t just pull the rug out from under the story at a certain point; he throws it over the reader’s head (and indeed, over that of a character or two) and then sets it on fire. You won’t have any idea what is going to happen after Rachel’s husband goes overboard, but don’t feel badly, since neither does Rachel, at least for a while. However, it doesn’t take her long before she goes from being reactive to proactive with an unlikely ally or two, even as a danger she doesn’t totally understand closes in to guarantee an explosive finale.

SINCE WE FELL is not wrapped up entirely neatly, so that one is left to wonder what ultimately will happen to those few characters who make it to the end of the story. One never knows what Lehane has planned from page to page, and from minute to minute, so we may well be seeing some of these memorable characters again at some point. Or not. Regardless, this is unquestionably one of Lehane’s most striking books, which, considering his body of work, is really saying something.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on May 10, 2017

Since We Fell
by Dennis Lehane