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Since We Fell
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  New York Times Review

OF THE TRUE MYSTERIES of the universe - What is the nature of time? What are the origins of life and is there life on other worlds? - the one we may never solve is the mystery of other people. This is the underlying subject of all fiction - Who are you, and why are you different from me? - and especially of the mystery genre. Dennis Lehane, as much as any writer, has built a career as a philosopher of the human animal. In books like "Mystic River" and "Shutter Island," he pushed the boundaries between genre and character. Deep down, it would appear, he knows that as much as readers want to know the truth about what happened and how (let's call this plot), what we're most intrigued by is the why. Why do some people commit terrible crimes and not others? Why are some people driven by greed, by jealousy and fear, and how do we recognize these people so we can protect ourselves from them? Because at the end of the day, the guilty among us look just like the innocent. We share the same genes, the same basic environment. We were raised with the same values (for the most part), and yet deep down each of us is a stranger to the other. "Since We Fell," Lehane's latest novel, feels even more than his previous books like a balancing act between a character study and a thriller, one in which the genre nature of the book hides its head for so long that the reader ultimately surrenders the idea that he or she is reading anything other than a literary novel about an attractive and successful young woman slowly surrendering to paranoia and madness. The first thing we learn about Rachel Childs is that she grew up without a father, raised by the kind of mother who drives a surprising amount of literature: largerthan- life, domineering, charismatic. Matriarch as sun and moon, career-driven and non-nurturing. From the time of Rachel's birth, mother and daughter were bound together in a kind of folie à deux. As a result, Rachel grew to define herself in reference to her mother - the ways they were similar, the ways Rachel hoped they were different. And yet at her core how could she avoid adopting her mother's skewed worldview, her uneasy relationship to power, her distrust of other people and - worse - her mother's less-than-flattering opinion of this new and unformed person called Rachel? The daughter was a girl the mother competed with, one she belittled at every turn in order to maintain dominance. It takes a lot for a child to grow up in the shadow of such a narcissistic parent without surrendering to self-loathing and doubt, but it seems at first that Rachel has managed to find some peace and a place for herself. After college she becomes a TV journalist, a talking head with a bright future and a handsome fiancé, himself rising through the ranks at the network. But under it all is a gnawing question: Who is my father, and why did he leave? This is Rachel's mystery, concerned not with the nature of time and space, but with the strange decisions made by the fickle meat inside other people's heads. So in her 20s Rachel begins the quest that will come to define the next decade of her life, the search for a man whose name her mother never told her. The search has twists and turns. At one point she finds the man all evidence suggests is her long-lost daddy, only to learn they share no biological connection. All the while, Rachel somehow manages to live up to the expectations of the normal world - thriving even, at work and in life - but then an assignment to Haiti in the aftermath of a natural disaster leads to a downward spiral. Damaged people, you see, can be propped up and held together by the boundaries of a functional world, but when you drop them into chaos, the chaos inside them rattles free. Rachel self-destructs. Her fiancé leaves her. She loses her job, then her career. Alcohol becomes her solace and she retreats into unchecked anxiety, her insecurities calcifying into agoraphobia. She becomes the waste of space her mother always told her she was. And then - still early in this eventful book - she meets Brian. Or I should say re-meets Brian, because a decade earlier he floated through her life for 10 minutes as a private investigator she hired in her endless search for her father. These days, we learn, Brian has leftthat life behind, returning to the family business his rich father started. He is handsome and successful, and he confesses a secret to Rachel. She is the one who got away. Slowly, with love and patience, Brian brings her out of her shell. He helps reintroduce her to the world. They get married. Her anxiety dulls, fades. Rachel, at long last, has found the peace and love she deserves. And for a time they are happy. But then suspicion - all those old hard-wired patterns of distrust - creep back in. There is a business trip abroad that Rachel comes to believe Brian never took. A sighting of him getting into a waiting car when he was supposed to be traveling overseas. Is he lying to her? Is Brian just another in a long list of manipulators and deceivers - another crazy mother, another abandoning father? This is the mystery. Should we believe the worst about people or the best? Can old patterns change? Can people surprise us for the better? The turn, when it comes, is both satisfying and somehow disappointing. Until now, the high-wire act Lehane has managed - to crafta character thriller, a psychological nail-biter based on real emotion and relatable anxiety - has been the rarest kind of page-turner, one in which character, not plot, drives the book's addictiveness. The thriller that emerges in the last 100- plus pages is more than satisfying on its own merits. Lehane takes all of Rachel's weaknesses, the tools she has used to overcome her deep psychological flaws, and turns them into strengths in navigating a world gone mad. She becomes truly fierce. Freed of the shackles of being normal, she takes her revenge on the world that has abused and manipulated her for her whole life. But at the same time, there is something reductive about the last third of the book. A story that flirted with the unsolvable mysteries of a human being called Rachel becomes a simple tale of what happens next. This is not a knock, necessarily, for readers of Lehane's past work and lovers of the genre. They may feel it takes too long to get to the action, but I loved watching the author walk the tightrope of deeper questions, was thrilled to see him push the boundaries of human understanding for its own merits, without needing an adrenaline fix of life-or-death stakes and villains with guns. Freed of the shackles of being normal, Lehane's heroine takes her revenge on the world. NOAH HAWLEY is the show runner for "Fargo" on FX and the author, most recently, of the thriller "Before the Fall."

  Library Journal Review

After covering tragic events in Haiti, reporter Rachel Childs suffers a mental breakdown on live TV and is fired. Her public trauma leads to divorce and severe agoraphobia. Almost two years later, she has remarried and is finally starting to recover-until the day she spots her husband, Brian, who is supposedly out of the country. When she confronts him, Brian convinces her otherwise, and facts seem to support his story and the existence of a doppelgänger. When a mysterious friend of Brian's reappears and divulges new information, she finally follows Brian and his true betrayal is revealed. Rachel's life careens into a nightmare and a fight for her life as she discovers the depth of his deception. The first third of this book details Rachel's background and reads like literary fiction. The latter portion ventures into thriller territory. Rachel's fully-developed character grounds the suspense to ease this shift, and Lehane (Shutter Island; Live by Night) writes with a smooth ease that makes the pages fly by. VERDICT Readers will enjoy going along for the ride in this engrossing story about love, deception, and marital commitment. [See Prepub Alert, 11/7/16.]-Emily Byers, Salem P.L., OR © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Lehane is one of our most versatile crime writers: he's done series mysteries (the Kenzie-Gennaro novels), stand-alone thrillers (Mystic River, 2001), horror-thriller blends (Shutter Island, 2003), and large-scale historical novels (The Given Day, 2008), and he's done them all superbly. Now he adds psychological thrillers to his résumé. Rachel Childs, the protagonist in this slalom course of a tale, is a mess. She was once a rising television journalist, but an on-camera meltdown sent her career into free fall and left her a virtual shut-in, obsessed with finding her father, who vanished from her life as a child. Everything changes when she falls in love with her own Mr. McDreamy, Brian Delacroix, and he slowly pulls her out of her shell. Then the slalom course takes its most jarring turn: Is Brian hiding something? Well, yes, he's hiding plenty.A lot of thrillers boast twisty plots, but Lehane plies his corkscrew on more than the story line. The mood and pace of the novel change directions, too, jumping from thoughtful character study to full-on suspense thriller, like a car careening down San Francisco's Lombard Street, cautiously at one moment, hell-bent at another. But this narrative vehicle never veers out of control, and when Lehane hits the afterburners in the last 50 pages, he produces one of crime fiction's most exciting and well-orchestrated finales rife with dramatic tension and buttressed by rich psychological interplay between the characters. Don't be surprised if Since We Fell makes readers forget about that other psychological thriller featuring an unstable heroine named Rachel. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The buzz has already begun for this one and will soon reach ear-shattering levels, aided by the author's 15-city tour and a full component of bells and whistles.--Ott, Bill Copyright 2017 Booklist

  Kirkus Review

Don't zoom through this latest entry in Lehane's illustrious body of work. You'll miss plenty of intrigue, intricacies, and emotional subtleties.The clinical term for what ails journalist Rachel Childs is "agoraphobia." Even if the term didn't appear twice in the novel, it'd be easy enough for the reader to identifyand identify withher pain thanks to Lehane's delicate, incisive rendering of her various symptoms. They include panic, rage, depression, and, most of all, self-loathing. ("That's who I've become," she thinks to herself. "A creature below contempt.") The reasons behind Rachel's breakdown are likewise cataloged in short, vivid strokes: a childhood spent mostly with her brittle, brilliant mother who refused to tell her anything at all about her father, leading to a yearslong search for that father culminating in desolation and heartbreak. The coup de grce to Rebecca's self-esteem comes when her meteoric rise to prominence as a Boston TV reporter literally crashes from her on-camera nervous collapse while covering the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Through all these jolts and traumas, one person is always around, whether close or from a distance: Brian Delacroix, a witty, handsome Canadian-born businessman whom she first meets as a private investigator, later through his occasional "keep-your-chin-up" e-mails, and then, after she's all but locked herself away in her apartment, outside a South End bar. Brian gradually becomes the only one who can even begin to draw Rachel out of her deep blue funk, first as a confidant, then as a lover, and finally as her husband. Happily ever after? You know there's no such thing in a Lehane novel if you've dived into such rueful, knotty narratives as Mystic River (2001), Shutter Island (2003), and World Gone By (2015). It spoils nothing to disclose that Brian isn't quite who Rachel thinks he is. But as she discovers when she tentatively, gradually subdues her demons to seek the truth, Rachel isn't quite who she thinks she is either. What seems at the start to be an edgy psychological mystery seamlessly transforms into a crafty, ingenious tale of murder and deceptionand a deeply resonant account of one woman's effort to heal deep wounds that don't easily show. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
<p>The new novel from New York Times bestseller Dennis Lehane, author of Mystic River and Shutter Island</p> <p>"Lehane is the master of complex human characters thrust into suspenseful, page-turning situations." --Gillian Flynn</p> <p>Since We Fell follows Rachel Childs, a former journalist who, after an on-air mental breakdown, now lives as a virtual shut-in. In all other respects, however, she enjoys an ideal life with an ideal husband. Until a chance encounter on a rainy afternoon causes that ideal life to fray. As does Rachel's marriage. As does Rachel herself. Sucked into a conspiracy thick with deception, violence, and possibly madness, Rachel must find the strength within herself to conquer unimaginable fears and mind-altering truths. By turns heart- breaking, suspenseful, romantic, and sophisticated, Since We Fell is a novel of profound psychological insight and tension. It is Dennis Lehane at his very best.</p>
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