After Rachel Childs, a former journalist, suffers an on-air mental breakdown, she 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.
Rachel has been through some pretty hard times in her life. She started suffering panic attacks early on, but while covering the Haitian earthquake, she has an on air meltdown, which leads to agoraphobia, the end of her career, and finally a divorce.
But when she miraculously encounters Brian, an old acquaintance, the couple begins a sweet relationship that eventually leads to marriage. Although Brian’s work requires him to travel often, he is so patient and their marriage is so solid, Rachel begins to slowly venture out again.
It is on one such rare outing, that Rachel’s entire life turns on a dime, prompting her to take a closer look at the man she married. Soon the rock solid trust she had with her husband is shaken to the core.
Should she be suspicious of Brian? Rachel won’t rest until she knows the answer to that question. Her investigation soon lures her into an incredible, and clever, cat and mouse game she is ill equipped to handle, but which could give her confidence and courage she didn’t know she was capable of.
Throw out all preconceived notions you have about this book. If you go into it expecting Mystic River, or a Kenzie & Gennaro type novel, you will rob yourself of the unique genius this story offers.
This book is one part character study and one part literary thriller/ psychological suspense. The story gets off to a bit of a sluggish start, but if you just sit back and allow yourself to be taken along where ever the author leads, before you know it, you will find yourself totally immersed in an absorbingly complex tale, with smart twists and turns, that keep those pages turning and your mind racing to keep up.
For those seeking a smart crime thriller, once the stage is set, you will love the atmosphere, and all the intrigue, action and suspense. For those looking for the literary side of the story, you will love the deep and surprising characterizations, which spotlights the amazing and surprising parts of themselves that people keep hidden from sight. Rachel’s character is central, as we watch a woman coping with intense, paralyzing fear, who has such a sensitive nature, go through an unbelievable metamorphosis.
Combining the character study with the literary prose, wrapping it up inside a dark and twisty, yet very stylish and polished caper -like thriller, is quite a unique experience. I thought it turned out quite nicely.
If you like crime drama, or smart literary thrillers, you can't go wrong with Dennis Lehane.
But one good thing comes out of all of this; although he wasn’t able to help her, Brian continues to offer his friendship through all of her disappointments and her slide into depression and as she becomes a virtual prisoner in her own home. Eventually, they marry and he coaxes her slowly out into the world. He is no longer a detective and his new work takes him away a lot but he never fails to give her encouragement even when he’s away. One day, however, when he is supposedly in England, she sees his doppelganger (maybe) on the street…except he is wearing clothes exactly like the ones Brian was wearing including his very expensive camel coat. Is it just an amazing coincidence or is their whole life a lie?
Since We Fell by author Dennis Lehane is a fascinating psychological thriller. But it is so much more than that. Unlike your average thriller (and this is definitely not that), this is not the kind of book that can or should be read quickly. In fact, the thriller aspect, as good as it is, takes a back seat to the psychological. It is his portrayal of Rachel’s mental illness as he lays out her thoughts, her self-doubts, and her slow and tentative steps towards recovery that make this an extremely complex, compelling, and engrossing read.
Thanks to Edelweiss and Ecco for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review
The beginning of this book is 5 star, with Mr. Lehane’s usual expertise in bringing his characters to life and finding a place for them in your heart. I was completely engrossed in the story, knowing that “something” was going to happen to change things and dreading it because, in spite of Rachel’s agoraphobia, the marriage between Brian and Rachel was so strong and loving. When the change came, it was completely unexpected and the author began to lose me. The book veers off from being a heartfelt novel about a woman struggling with her demons to an action thriller. The changes of character in both Rachel and Brian just didn’t ring true to me, though I was still engrossed in the story. What bothered me most about the second part of the book was the author’s seeming efforts to justify the characters’ actions while trying to get you to still like and respect them. His efforts didn’t work with me and the longer I had contact with these characters, the less I believed in them.
It seems to me that this book was written more as a movie script and I’ve read that the movie rights to the book have already been snatched up. I grabbed this book because of the author and his phenomenal “Mystic River” and “Shutter Island”. I never looked into what the book was about. Possibly if I had known it was a thriller before starting it, I would have been better prepared for the switch in gears. With the beginning being such a beautiful character study of a damaged woman, I truly wish the author had chosen to continue in that line. I still enjoyed the book but what started as outstanding turned into just OK.
This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.
In truth, the deliberateness with which Mr. Lehane develops Rachel is one of the story’s best features. He does not rush into the action but allows it to build naturally as Rachel asks each new question. Even better, Rachel is not a one-dimensional character with minimal backstory and little development. She is a rich, deeply defined character that readers intimately know. We see her love/hate relationship with her mother, the hole in her life that is her missing father. We see her career take off; we see her first marriage blossom and fail. We watch her spectacular breakdown on national television, and we see her attempt to build herself up again after her very public downfall. We know her motivations, her passions, her fears, her worries. By the time her second husband enters the picture there is nothing we don’t know about her, and the story is better for it.
As for the story itself, that is one better discovered for oneself. Mr. Lehane does a fantastic job presenting clues that you recognize as clues but that only make sense in hindsight. He also skillfully keeps the plot a complete surprise while minimizing the use of plot twists. Since We Fell is a thinking person’s thriller – erudite and thoughtful as well as intense and entertaining – and would make a great summer read or book club selection.
"The only people who ask questions like 'Did he want to become something besides a bartender?' are people who can become whatever they want. The rest of us are just Americans."
"It had happened before she was born, this wholesale discarding of American industry, this switch from a culture that made things of value to a culture that consumed things of dubious merit."
"She might have been pretty if the skin weren't stretched so tight against her face [that] it gave her the unfortunate look of someone who'd been struck by lightning during an orgasm."
But SINCE WE FELL doesn’t begin like one of Lehane’s older novels. The first half of this book is a study of Rachel, the main character. It does not grip the reader almost immediately, as you might have expected of Lehane before his mafia books.
Instead, we learn of Rachel’s discontent with her mother, who refuses to tell Rachel who her father is/was. Eventually, Rachel looks for him on her own. This leads to her initial meeting with Brian, a supposed private detective, who refuses to take her money for a job he knows he can’t do.
We also learn a lot more about Rachel, maybe more than we need to know sometimes. For various reasons, though, she is frequently afflicted with panic attacks. They disrupt her life so much that she becomes almost totally housebound.
The second half of SINCE WE FELL is Lehane as we used to expect. Now we come to know Brian better. Is he all that he seems? Who is he, really?
There’s more plot to the second half. But the character study in the first half is what makes the book more than a plot-driven thriller.
The first half of 'Since We Fell' is very slow, with lots of background and character development taking place for the main character, a young lady with an unusual background who experiences a career-ending/marriage-ending problem due to her agoraphobia and becomes a near-hermit. She eventually finds love once again with a guy who seems perfect. Or is he?
The 2nd half of the book picks up the pace, and the level of intrigue scales up almost by the page. Things most definitely aren't what they seem and that's about all I can say without spoiling a huge plot turn that makes the book such a great read.
That didn’t make it perfect. As much as we got Rachel’s back story, I just couldn’t connect her symptoms to her trauma. It didn’t make sense. So mom was a narcissistic control freak and wouldn’t tell her who daddy was. Then she threw herself into the horror of Haiti after the big earthquake and blamed herself for the deaths of some young girls. That might have brought on panic attacks, but she was having them before that and I couldn’t find the justification for that or the agoraphobia.
I also admit to some eye-rolling when we got to Brian’s double life. OMG really? Please Lehane, do something different with this well-worn trope. And to some extent he does, but there’s only so much that can be done. A hidden life is a hidden life and what he could be keeping from Rachel is a short list. The fact that he was working on her for so long, trying to get her over her fears. It seemed a bit too orchestrated and thought out. Why did he pick her? That wasn’t entirely clear. Love it must be because there is no other plausible reason.
Some people won’t like the fact that there isn’t a definitive ending. Things just conclude loosely and that was ok with me, but I would have liked a bit more concrete in Brian’s back story. That seemed a bit tacked on, like he was making that up, too.
The writing is as excellent as ever. Yes, there is a dreaded prologue, but it works in an interesting way. It sets the reader up to expect Sebastian to be the one shot, but events don’t turn that way. I love how well Lehane portrays reality. The scene around page 201 where Gattis crashes the party comes to mind. Sure, it’s a bit stagey, but once you realize that it literally is a set up, it’s perfectly pitched. There’s dialog, stage-direction, set dressing and the whole thing plays itself inside your head like a movie. It was pretty great. Also great are these lines -
“...structures that gave the impression of aggressive indifference to both history and its sob sister, nostalgia.” p 155
“In the past week, they’d made love once and it was the carnal version of their distant smiles - as binding as water, as intimate as junk mail.” p 201
Overall it was pretty great though. Tense, interesting and well-written. I won’t call it a slow burn because it really isn’t, but it does take a bit to get galloping.
In 'Since We Fell' we meet Rachel, a report who paid her dues in the news industry only to have a very public on air meltdown while covering the earthquake in Haiti. You read about her parentage (or lack thereof), her panic attacks and the loss of her marriage. When Rachel reconnects with Brian Delacrouix, it seems that Rachel may be able to claw her way back up. Then the 2nd half of the book begins....
I feel conflicted about this book - I read it within 48 hours of starting it because it engaged me from the first and kept me guessing (even though you know that Brian is too good to be true!). What put me off was the abrupt turnaround Rachel and Brian had in the last 1/3 of the book. I understand that people rise to the occasion however Rachel's turnaround required me to suspend my belief. I am still a little fuzzy on Brian's motivation.
I enjoyed this book and will recommend it (and to people who live in Boston!) without hesitation. The story covered a lot of territory but all of the plot lines seemed to come together to create Rachel and Brian and the mystery at the heart of the story. Do we define ourselves by our job or our career? What happens when both our job and our career are gone - do we cease to exist? Does our past define who we are or who we become? These are just a few questions that i walked away with after reading this book.
I may go back and read a few of Lehane's other books, i just need to get past the bad Boston accents when I do it!
Novel is suspenseful and romantic at times. There is tension and quirks. Pretty good.
I wasn’t sure about this book - if I would like it or not. But once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. It is a true psychological triller - tense, edgy, suspenseful, demanding of the reader.
Usually I have trouble finishing a book or I don’t like a book if I don’t feel a context or understanding of the storyline or if I dislike the characters. But SINCE WE FELL is different. Even though I had little feeling for Rachel Childs and her various ‘situations’, I couldn’t get away from the suspense of the story. The twists and turns of the various storylines left me ‘curiouser and curiouser’ and on the edge of my seat.
I would recommend this latest book by the great writer, Dennis Lehane.
In Dennis Lehane’s newest novel “Since We Fell”, Rachel Childs is a local TV reporter sent to cover Haiti after a disaster. Her reporting earns her a chance at a network TV assignment, but when she has an on-air breakdown, she loses her opportunity and her husband leaves her.
She becomes a recluse, rarely leaving her apartment. She reconnects with Brian, a man she knew as a private investigator while looking for information about her birth father. Brian rescues her from a man in a bar, and they begin to date.
Brian is patient and loving with Rachel, and soon they marry. One day Rachel sees Brian coming out of hotel in Boston when he was supposed to be in London, and she begins to question if he is the man she believes him to be.
The beginning of this fast-paced novel hooks you right away. “On a Tuesday in May, in her thirty-seventh year, Rachel shot her husband dead. He stumbled backward with an odd look of confirmation on his face, as if some part of him had always known she’d do it.” How can you not read on?
“Since We Fell” packs so much in this fast-paced novel. At first it’s about a young woman looking for her father. Then the story moves to cover Rachel’s breakdown and her subsequent marriage to a seemingly wonderful man. The last third of the book is a straight-out thriller, as Rachel uncovers the truth about her husband and fights to stay alive.
Fans of “The Girl On The Train” and “In A Dark, Dark Wood” will love “Since We Fell”, and I liked it better than those; Lehane is a superb writer who knows how to write terrific characters while ratcheting up the tension.
From The Book:
ollows 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,
Rachel has unresolved issues some of her own making but most were someone else's blunders. Her father abandoned her when she was 3...her mother did more bouncing around than a rubber ball. Most of her life Rachel endured her mother's biting, critical tongue. Trust is not easily gained for Rachel, and after a journalistic trip to Haiti, the troubles intensify. The biggest trauma that she will probably never overcome was diffidently of her own making....or was it? I thought that this sentence pretty much summed up the results of Rachel's issues. "On a Tuesday in May, in her thirty-fifth year, Rachel shot her husband dead.”.
This is not a fast moving plot. I have found that this is true of nearly all of Dennis Lehane's books . Don't give up. If the reader sticks it out they will be rewarded. It's the kind of story that can take many different directions.