5 stars out of 5
To the best of my recollection, the only other book by this author I've ever read was Mystic River, released in 2009 - and it pretty much blew me away. Since then, I've bumped around the edges of others, but for whatever reason, they went by the boards. When this one hit the New York Times Bestseller list, though, I vowed to give it a go.
And once again I'm blown away.
For the most part, it's not a whirlwind of spine-tingling action, although there's plenty of that as the story clears the mid-point. Rather, it centers on the complexities of the characters - one of the author's creative strengths - in particular those of the flawed Rachel Childs. Surviving (as best she can) a traumatic childhood (her mother, for instance, refused to the day she died to speak the name of Rachel's totally absent father) ends up making a good name herself as an on-air journalist. That comes after she marries a co-worker named Sebastian and finally learns who her father is. But she's been plagued by panic attacks, and she ends up losing her cool (to put it mildly) while doing a remote broadcast from storm-torn Haiti that brings her promising career track to a screeching halt.
After the breakdown, Sebastian distances himself (figuratively and mentally); eventually, she finds yet another soulmate, this one a flash out of her past named Brian. All seems to go swimmingly - until it doesn't; something just isn't as it should be. Now, Rachel's mind goes into overdrive: What if what's really going on could put both of their lives in danger? More to the point, given her fragile psychological history, can Rachel finally trust her own instincts? Even if that's possible, can she muster the courage to once and for all take charge of her life? The answers take shape by way of getting to know the ins and outs of the minds of several characters - primarily Rachel and Brian - and are revealed through many twists, turns and outright surprises that kept me intrigued enough to not want to put the book down till I'd reached the last page.
An afterword: After I finish any book and my own review, I usually check reviews from other readers (that doesn't apply, of course, to the advance copies I get in exchange for a review). In this case, I was a bit dumbfounded; at the time of this writing, the average was just 3.5 stars from 269 customers. That, in turn, piqued my curiosity as to why; what I learned is that apparently, this book veers from the author's "standard" approach to writing - a diversion not appreciated by a number of his faithful readers. I point this out why? Simply as a heads-up to regular fans to be prepared for something a bit different. I, on the other hand, went in with no expectations other than that because I thoroughly enjoying the one, it was likely I'd enjoy this one too. I was in no way disappointed - the writing is nothing short of brilliant.
Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane (Ecco, May 2017); 432 pp.