Dennis Lehane is the author of one of my favourite novels of all time — Shutter Island — and as a long-time admirer of his Patrick Kenzie / Angie Gennaro crime series, as well as the stellar Coughlin trilogy, I was very much looking forward to his new standalone book. And Since We Fell, ultimately, doesn’t disappoint, despite its slightly meandrous beginning, when it feels like Lehane is taking the scenic route to the novel’s core. But when the moment arrives (which will remain unspoiled in this review, obviously), everything clicks into place, and the novel kicks into Lehane’s trademark high gear.
Since We Fell follows Rachel Childs, a former television journalist, who lives as a virtual shut-in after a mental breakdown she experienced on-air as a result of coverage of the massive earthquake that shattered Haiti in 2010. Despite her struggles, life’s not altogether so bad for Rachel: she lives a wonderful life with her husband, who demonstrates incredible composure and understanding of her situation. Then, as a result of a chance encounter one afternoon, everything changes, and Rachel realises she’s been involved in a massive conspiracy; a deception unlike anything she could’ve possibly anticipated. To face the truth, and to survive it, she must overcome her greatest fears.
Lehane’s latest is a satisfying physiological thriller that becomes utterly relentless once it gains traction. The background into Rachel’s past seems excessive at times, even though it’s ultimately necessary information for readers to fully understand her motivations. But once you get through it, when you reach the moment, the plot comes together in exhilarating fashion. The tension is ratcheted up to the nth degree, and readers will be turning the pages as fast as they possibly can to see how the story plays out.
Dennis Lehane’s novels are at the top of the genre’s food chain. Since We Fell is blessed with a compelling narrative and top-notch writing. It will satisfy Lehane’s legion of fans and convert new ones. At a time when our bookstore shelves are packed with titles trying desperately to be the next Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, Since We Fell will satisfy fans of both, but remains its own distinct beast.