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Since We Fell

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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.

419 pages, Hardcover

First published May 9, 2017

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About the author

Dennis Lehane

94 books11.3k followers
Dennis Lehane (born Aug 4th, 1966) is an American author. He has written several novels, including the New York Times bestseller Mystic River, which was later made into an Academy Award winning film, also called Mystic River, directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, and Kevin Bacon (Lehane can be briefly seen waving from a car in the parade scene at the end of the film). The novel was a finalist for the PEN/Winship Award and won the Anthony Award and the Barry Award for Best Novel, the Massachusetts Book Award in Fiction, and France's Prix Mystere de la Critique.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,235 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,946 reviews292k followers
June 8, 2017
I am really disappointed with how Since We Fell turned out. It started okay. I've seen some other reviewers mention the slowness of the first half but, to be honest, I didn't mind so much because I assumed it was leading up to something bigger; something important. Unfortunately, though, it kind of wasn't.

The first part turns out to be an overlong and elaborate backstory about Rachel's childhood, adolescence, her mother's death and the subsequent search for her absent father, her career in investigative journalism, and her first failed marriage. Many characters come into the book and leave just as quickly, never to be mentioned again. Then Rachel meets the wonderful, perfect Brian who is willing to help her through her personal issues, and she settles into a second marriage.

The second part of the book is one of confusion and suspicion, as Rachel stumbles upon a secret that will change everything. And, lastly, the third part is a ludicrous stream of action that requires a suspension of disbelief I seem to be incapable of.

Gillian Flynn said that this book contains two different stories, but I would argue that it contains several. All of them failing to come together successfully. It’s like Lehane pooled all of his notes and shoved them together, regardless of whether they fit or not. And I say this as a fan of several of Lehane's books.

The later chapters of Since We Fell are really quite ridiculous. I felt like I'd been transported into a cheesy action movie like Mr and Mrs Smith, or something like it. The plot twists are somehow both predictable and seriously farfetched. Lehane drops huge hints earlier in the story that something is not quite right so the big "oh my gosh" probably won't come as a surprise, and one hint is only subtle if you’re American

I think, perhaps, that many feel this book gains its strength not from its thrills and surprises, but from its character exploration, but I can’t say I liked anyone. Rachel was bland to me, and every other character was either outright bad, or so unbelievably great that I could only assume they were hiding something.

The comically dramatic action scenes of the later chapters felt so cheesy. Even the dialogue seemed to lose something towards the end of the book, feeling scripted and unrealistic. I can almost see the movie already. Lehane finishes with an open ending, so I didn't even get any closure on this disappointing story. No surprises. No suspense. No resolution.

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Profile Image for Larry H.
2,481 reviews29.4k followers
May 15, 2017
I'd rate this 4.5 stars.

Dennis Lehane is truly one of my most favorite contemporary authors. He electrified me the minute I read the first Kenzie-Gennaro mystery (and all of the others that followed) and dazzled me with Mystic River , and while not every subsequent novel has been a home run, the indisputable fact is, I love the way he writes.

Needless to say, I pounced on Since We Fell , his newest novel, practically at midnight the day it came out. I've decided that how you feel about this book may very well depend upon whether you've been led to believe it's a thriller or a novel. As a novel, it's definitely thrilling, particularly the last third or so, but as a thriller, it's not quite as pulse-pounding as you would probably expect it to be. Expectations. Tricky things, no?

Rachel Childs had a difficult childhood. Raised by a single mother who refused to give her any information about her father, Rachel was simultaneously nurtured and bullied by her mother, smothered and neglected. After her mother's death, her search for her father leads her to meet some interesting people, and learn just how difficult and controlling her mother really was.

Given her dogged investigative thirst, Rachel finds success first as a print journalist, then a television news reporter. She is being groomed for major success when, covering the aftermath of the Haiti earthquakes, she has a breakdown on the air. Her career in ruins, she becomes a virtual shut-in, barely leaving her apartment, licking her wounds. And then one day a chance encounter with someone from her past, someone who has always intrigued but confused her, makes her realize that happiness might not be totally out of her grasp.

Rachel and her husband live a relatively quiet, reasonably ideal life. He travels a bit for work, and encourages her to overcome her agoraphobia, little by little, but doesn't push too hard. He wants her to find the strength to thrive on her own. But then one afternoon, as she decides to venture out on her own, she makes a shocking discovery that throws her for a bit of a loop. As she tries to make the puzzle pieces fit, she uncovers a web far more tangled than she could ever imagine. She isn't sure whether she should let her panic attacks consume her again or if she should battle back for the first time in a long time. And she's not even really sure what she's battling against.

Since We Fell takes a while to build up steam, but it's still a well-told, compelling story about a woman driven to uncover secrets, first about her father, and then about the news stories she covers. It's a story about a woman knocked back on her heels, and whether she should try to find the strength to knock back, or if she should just be content with being a has-been more famous for appearing crazy than the work she did. It's also a story about how an unexpected relationship might not save you, but it may give you the courage you need to save yourself.

Lehane's storytelling is in fine form here, and once he kicks the book into thriller mode, the engine just takes off, leaving you breathless at times. There are a lot of twists and turns here, some I saw coming, some surprised me. It's not necessarily new ground, but it's kind of like having a familiar dish prepared by a master chef—everything is just a little bit better.

Years ago, a few days after Mystic River was released, I met Lehane at a reading and book signing. When I told him I had already read the book, he said, "But the book came out Tuesday. It's Friday, man. I don't think I can write that fast!" I offered to sharpen his pencils if that would help. Needless to say, I've done it again, and I know I may have to wait a few years until Lehane's next book. But Dennis, if you're reading this, I'd be glad to sharpen some pencils if it will help.

See all of my reviews at http://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blo....
Profile Image for Kemper.
1,390 reviews6,744 followers
June 15, 2017
This is going to be one of those pain in the ass books to review because you can’t really talk about it without spoiling it, and the things that really need to be discussed all happen later in the plot. Yet there’s so much wrong that I really want to get into all of it. It’s quite a dilemma.

Here’s what I can safely tell you: Rachel Childs’ mother refused to tell her who her father is which leads to a troubled childhood and rebellious teenage years. After her mother’s death Rachel follows up on various clues as she finishes school and becomes a rising star in TV journalism. While reporting in a disaster zone she experiences some terrible events that lead to the derailment of her career and crippling panic attacks that leave her a shut-in almost completely unable to deal with the world outside her apartment. Then some other things happen…

This really seems like two different books. The opening sentence tells us immediately that Rachel is headed for big trouble, but then it jumps way back to her childhood. We spend a lot of time with her growing up and being obsessed with tracking down her long lost father. This goes on for so long that it fools you into thinking that the book is more of a character drama/romance type of thing instead of a straight-up mystery/thriller, and I was actually enjoying this part.

After the turn we know is coming happens it seems like we’re in the territory of a Lifetime movie, but the book still had its head above water at this point. That’s when this plot which had been looking like a psychological suspense thriller turns into something else completely which stretches the suspension of disbelief way past the manufacturer’s recommended limits, and it shatters completely.

I yelled "Oh, bullshit!" so many times during this second part that I sounded like someone walking across a cow pasture wearing his best shoes.

I’m a huge fan of Dennis Lehane so this is really disappointing. Now I know how a teacher feels when their favorite student hands in a rotten paper, and they have to give it an F. I suspect that a lot of readers will find the first half boring and pointless compared to the second half, or like me, they'll be more intrigued by the character based first part and think the rest is complete nonsense.

Lehane just got way too cute for his own good here as well as not seeming to have a good handle on what kind of book he was doing. While the writing itself is solid and Rachel is a pretty decent character it’s like he tried to make a peanut butter and tuna fish sandwich, and the results taste about as good as that sounds.

Any untagged spoilers in the comments will be deleted.
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,157 reviews36.5k followers
May 29, 2017
4.5 Stars* (rounded up).

“Since We Fell” by Dennis Lehane is the story of Rachel Childs. Though her life seems ordinary at first, it is anything but. She is complicated and smart. At times she may seem frail, though she is stronger than even she realizes. Her life experience has caused her to hide from the world, until one day, when hiding is no longer an option.

Rachel was raised by a single mother, Elizabeth, who kept the “mother” of all secrets from her daughter: she refused to tell Rachel who her father was. Elizabeth Childs was a tough woman to love, she appeared cold, unemotional and angry one minute, and mental the next. Their relationship was a tumultuous one and that relationship shaped Rachel’s entire life, as she struggled to find herself, felt a need to find the father she never knew and continued to seek out a love she never had.

After years of a successful career in Broadcast Journalism, and a so-so marriage to Sebastian, a man who cared more about himself and his career than Rachel, things fell apart and Rachel became almost reclusive. Then she met Brian, a man from her past, and he became her future. Her safety net. They married and their relationship consumed her. He took care of her, brought her out of her shell and helped her conquer her fears. Then one day, Rachel discovered that things were not as they seemed. Her life changed on a dime and she was caught in a web so tangled that there appeared to be no way out. It became a life of terror, deceit and insane intrigue – all of which made my breath catch in my throat and caused my chest to get tight.

For me, none of this was surprising, for Rachel Childs was a woman who grew up in a house of lies, experiencing familial dysfunction. Therefore, it was only natural that, that was what she gravitated towards. In realizing all of this, somehow, Rachel was able to dig deep and finds something inside of herself that she thought was lost forever.

Rachel is an interesting, multi-faceted character. I liked her from the get-go. She is not perfect, far from it actually, but she is real and that is what made her so likeable. Dennis Lehane did a great job creating masterful characters whose pain and suffering I felt in my core. The drama and intrigue that was in play towards the last half of the book was first rate and kept me glued to the story. I listened to the audiobook and thought the narrator, Julia Whelan did a particularly spectacular job.

In my opinion, “Since We Fell” is a book that you immediately invest in. The reason? Rachel Childs. Her personal journey is the reason for this book. Her life becomes an unexpected psychological thriller. It was a rollercoaster I didn’t expect to take, but it is one, whose genesis I understood. It was fascinating. I hope you explore it my friends and I hope you find it as interesting as I did.

Published on Goodreads and Amazon on 5.26.17.
Profile Image for Always Pouting.
568 reviews697 followers
February 14, 2020
Rachel Child's mother, Elizabeth, was a famous writer, known best for her book on relationships and spent the rest of her career trying to recapture the success from her first book. Even more ironically Elizabeth spent her whole life unable to be in any healthy relationship, spending all of Rachel's life emotionally manipulating her and with holding any information about her birth father. Eventually after her mothers death Rachel sets out to search for her birth father. She decides to hire a PI to help her look and meets Brian, who tries to aid her in finding her father.

Might be spoilers from this point on, even though it's a general summary skip reading from here if you don't want to know anything.

Rachel struggles with questions about her identity and her constant feeling of loneliness and isolation as she continues the endless search for her father. Meanwhile she puts herself through school and starts a career on broadcast news. Eventually she figures out her father's identity, only to be left with more questions and loose ends, which only make her pervasive issues with anxiety worse. Though she gets married to Sebastian, their relationship comes second for both, so that when Rachel is send on assignment to Haiti to cover the earthquake and devastation leading to an eventual breakdown on live television, he is quick to leave. Rachel's disastrous breakdown not only ends her marriage but her career as well; she becomes viral and secludes herself inside for good.

On the day of her divorce finalizing Rachel takes a rare outing to go to the bar. At the bar she reconnects with Brian, who she has been in touch with on and off for years. The two eventually get into a relationship, making Rachel think for once things are going her way and will be okay. Then when Brian begins to do small things that don't quite add up, Rachel can't help but begin to question their whole life together, leading her to confront her own issues and anxieties, especially her fear of abandonment.

I really enjoyed this one. I didn't want to put it down even when I went to pee. I really got pulled into the story and the writing was wonderful. I even loved the ending which doesn't happen often. Brian and Rachel were really adorable and when Rachel begins to look into Brian I was really rooting for them. I honestly had no clue where the plot was going and I was pretty invested all the way through. Definitely one of my favorites and I'd say 4.5 stars. I would have given it 5 but the two parts of the story didn't mesh together that smoothly and also the whole thing where Brian was shot and had planned the whole thing just felt a little bit too much of a stretch.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,921 reviews35.4k followers
May 23, 2017
My first question when I finished the last page was...."has a movie already been made"?

What stands out more than anything to me is the creation of "Rachel Childs".
In the same way that Lisbeth Salander is synonymous with the Steig Larsson's Millennium Series ....Rachel Childs is with "Since We Fall".
NOT that these two women are alike - or behave the same -but she's one hell of a fascinating female protagonist.

When Paul asked me what I was reading.... I replied Dennis Lehane's new book -"Rachel Childs". I kept forgetting the books name "Since We Fell".... but it's clear once finishing this thriller.

What made this story thrilling were the jolting twisted shifting paths it took. Especially the first surprise ....
One minute I was Sunday driving -the next I was race car driving. The momentum and complexity moved into high gear a little past half way through the novel.

Through it all -- with unique supporting characters - is Rachel Childs!!! She is sensitive, often contemplating her own issues.....( fears, pessimism, loss, trust, and love)....
As we take a journey with Rachel..... she discovers some insights about herself....but 'not' before troubling excitement. It's not "Mystic River", but it's good. I'd go see the film.

Suspenseful - sensitive -psychological thriller!!!!

Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,694 reviews14.1k followers
May 23, 2017
Rachel has the world in her grasp, a successful journalism career, marriage to an equally successful man, and then in a very public way it and she falls apart. Until she reconnects with Brian......

The first part of this book is slowly paced as we get to know Rachel, her search for the birth father she never knew, her career, marriage and her breakdown and it's after effects. I enjoyed this first part, it was well wriiten and I had a great deal of sympathy for Rachel. Then this story does almost a complete 360 and takes off like a runaway train, morphs into a whole different thing. I have thought about this for days and let's just say that though I was almost convinced this could happen, make sense, that someone with all the problems Rachel had could act in this manner, I couldn't quite make myself get there. Not that I wasn't entertained, I was, this is a very readable story but in my readers mind, too much didn't hang together.
Profile Image for James Thane.
Author 8 books6,910 followers
August 9, 2019
I have always been a big fan of Dennis Lehane's series featuring Boston P.I.s Patrick Kenze and Angie Genarro, and Mystic River remains one of my favorite books of all time. For me, at least, the problem is that Lehane set such a very high standard in these books, that whenever he writes something that's a bit more average, I'm inevitably disappointed. Such is the case here.

For openers, I confess that I had a lot of trouble deciding what this book was supposed to be--the story of a young woman searching for the father she never knew; the tale of a rising TV news reporter who has it all only to lose it and then go half nuts, or a thriller featuring the same woman who finally meets another perfect man only to find herself trapped in something closely resembling an Alfred Hitchcock movie.

Rachel Childs grew up the only child of an emotionally abusive mother who refused to tell Rachel who her father was. She kept insisting that she would at some point, but then, like Lucy pulling away the football, she kept delaying doing so. Thus Rachel spends much of the first part of the book searching for the man, working from the pathetically few clues that her mother has chosen to give her.

Then, all of a sudden, the focus shifts to Rachel's rising stardom as a reporter. She's found a great and similarly ambitious husband and she's set for big things until something inexplicable happens (something that I had a hard time buying into) and she crashes and burns and winds up psychologically damaged and afraid to leave her house. (I'm not really giving anything away here; most of this is in the tease on the back of the book.) Then Rachel gets a second shot at the brass ring and shortly thereafter her life blows up again and the book moves off in an entirely different direction.

By this time, I was suffering whiplash trying to follow all of this. In fact, Lehane may have crammed into this one book the plots for two or three really good books. But jammed together into one story, it all leaves the reader (at least this reader) just shaking his or her head in disbelief. There were parts of this book that I really enjoyed, although at times Rachel began to get on my nerves, but taken as a whole it just didn't work as well as it might have. It's not a bad book, but as I suggested above, I've set a very high (and perhaps unfair) standard for Dennis Lehane based on his earlier work and Since We Fell falls short of the mark.
Profile Image for Kaceey.
1,034 reviews3,554 followers
July 30, 2022
This book seemed to have an identity crisis. I’d just get comfortable with one storyline when it unexpectedly wrapped up, veering off in a totally different direction.

🔹We had Rachel in search of her birth father.

🔹Her breakdown on TV, forcing her to live as a shut-in (except for when she wasn’t).

🔹And finally, an all-out thriller involving lies, deception, murder, and mayhem!

Yup, this book covers it all! So take your pick of storylines. Just don’t get too cozy…the author will suddenly switch it up!

I’ve been a huge Dennis Lehane fan having read every book he’s released. No idea how I missed this one. But in a way I’m glad I waited because I was able to listen to Julia Whelan once again do an amazing job as the voice talent.

Overall, I’m glad I picked this one up. But definitely not a favorite from this author.

Thank you to my local library 🎧

Profile Image for Rebbie.
142 reviews110 followers
September 23, 2017
I can see why people are divided on their opinion of this book, especially with the writing format being split into two (or is this just my imagination?). The first half was good, but more of a stream-of-consciousness style of writing that is not at all what fans have come to expect from Dennis Lehane.

Not a lot happens in the first half; mostly it's about Rachel Childs and her search for her father, her relationship with her mother, her love life, her career, her emotional issues, you know, the whole shebang.

But somewhere just past the halfway point of the book, BOOM! It kicks into overdrive like a race car driver on speed. This is the Dennis Lehane that we've grown to love and appreciate. It was such a far cry from being the quiet, unassuming first half of the book that it made my heart race and was thus unable to put it down until it was finished.

For those who have DNF'd it, maybe try to pick it back up again and get to the great part. It's totally worth it imo.

Unimportant side note: Is it just me, or are his books written like they should all be movies? I love this about his writing style, and it makes me wish that this would become a movie, like some of his other books. I feel the same way about The Given Day, which was the first in the Coughlin series. The second book in the series, Live By Night, became a movie in 2016. So this probably means that the first book is going to be passed over completely by Hollywood. :(

Oh well, a girl can dream.

Profile Image for Amanda.
117 reviews11 followers
June 1, 2017
It pains me to do this, but I am going to have to go with two stars. I fell in love with Dennis Lehane's writing ever since I first read A Drink Before the War, but this one just didn't do it for me. The first half of this book is bogged down with so much back story that you have no idea what the point of the book is. The second half of the book is a bad Katherine Heigl movie. Period.
Profile Image for Orsodimondo.
2,123 reviews1,625 followers
November 24, 2021

Western Massachusetts.

Il titolo originale gioca con il doppio significato del verbo to fall, che indica sì il cadere, ma anche quello sentimentale. E quindi, un innamoramento. Cadere innamorato.

Rachel è una giovane donna cresciuta tra una materna presenza ingombrante e una paterna assenza totale. La ricerca del padre, che la madre le ha sempre tenuto nascosto e distante, segna la sua vita.
E tutto questo non può non definirsi “identità”: ricerca della stessa, difficoltà di definirsi, ecc.

Charles River a Boston.

Poi, intorno ai trent’anni e raggiunto il successo (giornalista inviata di importante canale televisivo), Rachel crolla: attacchi di panico, paranoie, agorafobia. Si trincera in casa e per tre anni mette il naso fuori delle mura domestiche molto di rado. Dà via la macchina, non prende mezzi pubblici, men che meno aerei, chiusa in casa, barricata.
Una lunga prima parte che costruisce il personaggio protagonista, e la madre, e sviluppa un discreto lavoro di approfondimento psicologico.

Poi, all’improvviso il passo cambia, accelera, si balla un’altra danza, diventa un thriller puro, diventa una storia d’azione, diventa un romanzo schizofrenico.
E ci sono cadaveri che resuscitano dopo essere rimasti in fondo al fiume per tempo indefinito; pallottole che scheggiano la colonna vertebrale, ma la proprietaria di quella colonna vertebrale cammina e prende l’ascensore senza sanguinare; detective di polizia che la sanno più lunga di Philip Marlowe e Sam Spade e Lew Archer e Marco Buratti messi insieme ed elevati al cubo: ma ciò nonostante si trovano a tu per tu con un killer nello spazio confinato di un ascensore e non capiscono chi hanno davanti.
A un certo punto è come se Lehane avesse deciso di sperimentare e rendere credibile l’inverosimile: buchi, salti, illogicità. Al punto che verrebbe da puntare l’indice contro il traduttore, che poveretto, ormai è sempre il primo colpevole, un po’ come se fosse il maggiordomo in un giallo classico.


Poi, sempre di botto e sempre all’improvviso, Lehane si mette a spiegare tutto, anche quello che fino lì sembrava inverosimile: col risultato che dal poco credibile si passa al poco probabile.
Si arriva in fondo perché la scrittura è semplice, le cose accadono, il plot ha una direzione, pure se la sensazione è che lungo il percorso si abbandoni anche quella psicologia che nella prima parte aveva reso piacevole e interessante la lettura.
Si chiude il libro e si aspetta il film, che si spera sarà più solido del romanzo.
Alla fine la cosa che mi ha colpito di più è la conferma che negli Stati Uniti le armi da fuoco sono come le mosche in un letamaio: un numero sterminato, e appiccicose.

Profile Image for *TANYA*.
1,002 reviews287 followers
July 2, 2017
The story was not very remarkable, but it kept my interest. I didn't love it but I didn't hate it either. The authors writing style was fantastic.
Profile Image for Perry.
631 reviews503 followers
February 26, 2019
My life has been such misery and pain / I guess I'll never be the same / Since I fell for you

I chose to read this because I've enjoyed most of Lehane's gritty, intelligent Kenzie/Gennaro series set in Boston (e.g., Gone, Baby, Gone). This is his first non-period novel in a while.

This is a suspense/psychological thriller that works for the most part. I was puzzled by some disconnects though (one thread dropped off without explanation). Also, while I thought the female protagonist was very well-developed, I wish he'd gone much deeper because she may be his best protagonist ever, certainly for the first 40% of the novel.

I won't provide a description of the characters or plot because it would likely ruin the story. In fact I'd suggest you not delve too far into the descriptions and certainly not further into reviews as I did. The less you know, the much better the story will be. I read one review that gave me a one word description of the plot but didn't disclose the ending. Yet, even mentioning this clue was more than enough to spur my mind to figuring out the next twist, which I did with decent success.

If you've already read reviews, go ahead and look at my five-word, one sentence general clue, which does not give away the spoiler but rather a one word description of the plot. This was all I needed to know to have me guessing/knowing all through the novel of what was about to happen.

A short rant about reviewers complaining the novel is not worthy of reading or its value is lessened because the plot is like that in a movie made director X or in such and such niche of a genre:

To the supercilious literati who look down upon a novel because it reminds them of another novel or film, Please, gimme a break!.

Little created in art is wholly unique, doesn't hold some resemblance to some other art. I won't ramble on that nearly all art is taken/stolen, at least in some part, from something done by someone else, who stole/took, at least in some part, something another did before that, and so on. Since the time of Solomon, as he pronounced: "There is nothing new under the sun." Ecclesiastes 1:9.

Instead, you cognoscenti who would not deign to listen to me, hear ye the whispers of the ghosts of artists who you must surely respect:

Picasso: " Art is theft ."

Mark Twain: " It is better to take what does not belong to you than to let it lie around neglected. "

Salvado Dali: " Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing. "

David Bowie: " The only art I'll ever study is stuff that I can steal from ."

I agree with Jonathan Lethem that when one thinks something is truly "original," nine out of ten times one just doesn't know the references or the original sources involved.

I'd have to say that T.S. Eliot best described "originality" in a way that accounted for the fact that nothing is wholly new:
"Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poets welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different from that from which it was torn."
By this definition, even if one thought that Dennis Lehane borrowed from a certain director's plot twists and/or endings in writing this novel, Lehane still "weld[ed] this... into a whole of feeling which is unique [and] utterly different."

{End of Rant} Thank you for your indulgences.
Profile Image for Jessica J..
1,013 reviews1,924 followers
May 11, 2017
I don’t read a lot of thrillers. I feel like it can be a hard genre to do really well. A lot of times, the stories are excessively complicated in an attempt to confuse the reader. Other times, so much emphasis is put on shocking the reader that the characters don’t feel like actual people. Or, it can go the opposite way and the thing that’s meant to shock us is telegraphed so clearly that it sucks all the tension out of the story.

So, yeah, I don’t read a lot of straight-up thrillers. But I do think Dennis Lehane is pretty great and now I think this might be one of his best. It’s the kind of book that made me clench my ass so tightly in anticipation that I might never loosen up again.

It’s about Rachel, a young woman who was raised by a semi-famous self-help author who refused to disclose the identity of her daughter’s father. Rachel grew up to become a journalist, but she suffers from debilitating panic attacks. After experiencing one live on air, she essentially becomes a shut-in, afraid to leave her home. Luckily, her husband is full of empathy and willing to help her through this experience. But then things start happening that cause her to begin questioning…well, everything. In some ways, this almost felt like three separate books: Rachel’s youth and the build up to her fragile psychological state, her life after her breakdown and her baby steps towards recovery, and then her getting plunged into a straight-up thriller.

To be honest, the first third of the book felt like a lot of set-up and I know many readers may not have the patience for that. But it’s also an incredible, thoughtful examination of how Rachel’s panic disorder has developed. I appreciate that Lehane didn’t take the easy route and just tell us “this woman has panic attacks,” that he laid out the difficult personal history that led to these panic attacks and, as someone who struggles with anxiety, although at a much lower intensity, it felt very honest and real instead of a gimmick. I was a little disappointed we didn’t get resolutions to all of these biographical details, that Lehane doesn’t bring us back to them that much in the second half, but I appreciated that he’d taken the time to make the character feel so three-dimensional and complex. It did help increase the tension in the second half of the book—Rachel doesn’t trust her perception of events due to her mental health, but it never feels like a cheap trick to pull the rug out from under the reader.

The actual thriller elements were pretty solid, too. Yeah, Lehane takes the plot into some pretty bonkers places that strain credulity a bit, but he keeps it exciting and he kept me guessing. I had no idea where things were going to go and I definitely wanted to find out. I wanted to find out because I’d become so invested in Rachel as a character that I couldn’t look away from her. And that’s really what matters the most when you’re reading a thriller.
Profile Image for Julie .
4,000 reviews58.9k followers
May 16, 2017
Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane is a 2017 Little, Brown Book Group publication.

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.

4 stars

Profile Image for Zoeytron.
1,028 reviews661 followers
October 5, 2018
I am well versed in the art of disbelief suspension, and understand completely that fiction is, well, fiction.  But this one had me swinging from the rafters of absurdity.  So, no.  Do not expect the smooth plot flow of Mystic River.  The first 200 pages or so had a completely different feel from the remainder of the book, and it is the latter half about which I grumble.  This is the first novel of Lehane's that has missed the mark for me, and in no way will deter me from reading more from him in the future.  Going to end with something fun now.  There was a mention of a relationship that was "as intimate as junk mail."  Now, that is rich.
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,739 followers
July 21, 2021
Hmmm . . . not really all that tight and interesting. It started off strong, but the twists and turns were all over the board and felt forced (and sometimes silly).

As mentioned, it started very good and the first third of the book was an interesting story that is basically completely unrelated to the rest of the book (I would give the first third 5 stars). This is sad because it was the best part and I thought it was building up to something much better than I ended up with.

I need to try some of this author’s other books as I know he has a reputation for good, twisty thrillers. But this one just didn’t do it for me, so I am sad that my first outing with Lehane was here.
Profile Image for Em Lost In Books.
858 reviews1,730 followers
May 17, 2017
Rachel was an only child, raised by a single mother. Her mother, Elizabeth Childs, died in a car accident leaving everything to Rachel except her father's name. Rachel wanted to know who her father was as she thought somehow knowing about his identity would fill the hole in her heart. Even after a turbulent childhood, Rachel managed to make her life as a news presenter. She got married to man, she thought she was in love with. When she was about to make a big in her professional life, few panic attacks on a live coverage ruined her. She confined herself to her apartment and refused to go out, face the world. Enter Brian, an acquaintance she met after her mother's death and who kept contact with her through few mails for decade. She married him and he helped her in facing her fears and brought her out in the world. Brian was a Lumber scion and was out of States once in a month. But one day when Rachel was coming back after meeting her friend, she saw Brian in same city when he was supposed to be in London. After that life turns upside down for Rachel.

The above description is almost first 40% of the book and it moves at a speed slower than a snail. Lehane has taken every step necessary to make me know Rachel inside out. Her fears, weakness, effect of her mother on her, her panic attacks, and how would she react in certain circumstances. But things suddenly picks up after she finds about Brian's lies and we get the trademark Lehane story. One thing keeps happening after other, and I was suddenly wide awake, unable to grasp everything. Lehane kept throwing secrets and lies at me, and poor me failed at every turn as all my guesses were proved wrong as the story progressed.

It was a good story but I have read Lehane and surely he can spin better tales than this. It didn't sit well with me that Rachel was always on a search. If first half was about father, second was about husband. I had a hard time believing how our scared little Rachel turned into all confident woman telling lies to a cop, make fool of professional killers, and didn't hesitate in pointing a gun at someone and press the trigger. End was an abrupt one and could have use some more pages.

Definitely not the best Lehane for me. Hope he'll fare better with Gone, Baby, Gone which I will be picking soon.
Profile Image for Michael.
1,094 reviews1,498 followers
July 4, 2017
I have been a big fan of Lehane since his start with detective stories featuring Kenzie and Gennaro set in Boston. Thus, I eagerly take up each novel when I get my hands on it. He usually has an engaging story, lively pacing and dialog, and, above all, character development that elucidates human nature. He has an affinity for characters with flaws and a dynamic driving his stories between what they think they want and what they really need.

Here we are concerned with the growth trajectory of one Rachel Childs, who grew up under a cloud of never knowing her father and a hypercritical mother obsessed with her academic psychology career. Her confusion over her identity leads to a rough patch of rebellion and floundering in her adolescence, but she eventually gets on some solid ground in pursuing a successful career as an investigative TV journalist. Unfortunately, on assignment for a story on the human impact a disastrous hurricane in Haiti she crosses the professional line by trying to save one of the victims from a predator empowered by the lawlessness in the storm’s aftermath. She breaks down on camera, resulting in getting fired and development of a crippling agoraphobia and panic disorder. Along comes a man, Brian, who applies a balm of empathy and belief in her underlying strength and competence. Despite her track record of feminist autonomy, she quickly adapts into a life of wedded dependence on this wealthy man in the international timber supply business.

We spend a long build-up to the opening premise set up in the first lines of the book:
On a Tuesday in May, in her thirty-fifth 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.
He looked surprised too. She assumed she did as well.
Her mother wouldn’t have been surprised.
Her mother, who never married, wrote a famous book on how to stay married. …
Two days before, if someone had asked her [Rachel] if she loved her husband, she would have said, “yes.”
Actually, if someone had asked her the same question as she pulled the trigger, she would have said, “Yes.”
Her mother had a chapter about that—Chapter 13: “Discordance.”
Or was it the next chapter—“The Death of the Old Narrative”—more applicable?
Rachel wasn’t sure. She got them confused sometimes.

Overall, the book makes a satisfactory beach read, in the sense of subjecting yourself to a lot of clever twists and turns in your expectations and choices for the main characters. But it was too clever for my tastes and had too many implausible elements to take seriously. So much turns on the ending, making me feel like the recipient of a shaggy dog story like I did with his “Shutter Island.” It seems destined for a commercially successful film in the company of “Gone Girl” and “Girl on the Train.” I miss the literary ambitions of his “Mystic River” and his historical trilogy on members of a Boston family, the Coughlins.
Profile Image for Sam Quixote.
4,452 reviews12.8k followers
May 7, 2017
Rachel hasn’t had the best life: her dad left when she was a baby and her manipulative, cruel mother took his identity with her to the grave. Her cold husband divorced her after she had a mental breakdown covering the Haiti earthquake, the trauma causing her to lose her job as a journalist as well as turning her into a shut-in. By chance she meets her future second husband and the love of her life, Brian, who slowly helps turn things around for her. Until she realises he’s been lying to her since Day 1 about who he is and what he does. So who is “Brian” really and what does he do? Deadly consequences await Rachel as she begins to look into her beloved husband’s secret life…!

I love me some Dennis Lehane. Shutter Island is an insanely brilliant mystery thriller and up there with anything Agatha Christie ever wrote (the undisputed master of the genre) and Moonlight Mile was a great crime story too. While The Drop put me off Lehane for a couple years, I’m pleased to say he’s found inspiration again with a new high quality novel: Since We Fell.

Here’s the biggest problem with the book, which might be a deal-breaker for some: the novel is a smidge over 400 pages and roughly the first 200 pages is irrelevant build-up. Yeah. That’s a lotta build-up! You know what it is? I think it’s Lehane trying to have his cake and eat it too. The first half is a literary character portrait of a troubled woman: we follow her quest to find her long-lost dad, the scenes of devastation in Haiti, becoming agoraphobic and slowly overcoming it. Then the second half is gloriously pure trashy airport thriller as Rachel gets caught up in the mystery of the husband she never knew. Lehane's playing to both the arty and populist crowds in the same book.

That’s not to say I hated the first half. The entire book is well-written and Lehane finds the raw emotional humanity in the Haiti scenes which were very powerfully realised. I wasn’t caught up in the missing father story or her first marriage but I wasn’t totally bored either – Lehane did just enough to keep me turning the page. But it’s also not the book I wanted to read. And comparing the first half to the second? It’s like night and day, the contrast is so sharp. I mean, Lehane’s in second gear for 200 pages and then suddenly he finds fifth gear! I read the first 200 pages in a week and a half and the second 200 in less than 24 hours. Lehane knows exactly how to hook the reader and take them on a breathlessly thrilling ride, executing the second half of this book in the genre style flawlessly.

I think I understand why he wrote the book like this. Firstly it invests you in Rachel’s character more so that when things kick up exponentially you care about what happens to her. But that structure also plays into the duality theme of the story: Rachel is looking for a man she didn’t know, her father, and then she’s doing the same in the second half with her husband. Unfortunately that doesn’t make the first half any less sluggish to read though and I’d have been happier with the literary pretensions excised completely, leaving us with a white-hot 200/250-page read instead.

Aside from an abrupt ending, which was the only part of the book that could’ve used more pages, the second half of the book was so good that it mostly made up for the slow, meandering first half. It’s asking a lot for mystery/thriller fans to endure 200 pages of build-up but, if you’re willing, you get an awesome payoff. I definitely fell for Since We Fell – Dennis Lehane is BACK!
Profile Image for Jennifer.
1,723 reviews6,663 followers
May 30, 2017
Since We Fell encompasses two parts. They aren't labeled but you'll know immediately when the switch occurs. I had to investigate my library-rented audiobook to ensure there hadn't been a mistake. It's that kind of switch. Part one is well-written character, family, and culture/class development. It's slow but good. The second part breaks into a mysterious barrel-roll of a thriller. It's also good. It just doesn't flow well from part one to part two...not at all in my opinion. It's like they're two different books. It was confusing but once I invested myself in the latter, it ended up being a fun ride. After all is said and done, I can see how the two parts compliment each other but I felt at a disadvantage during my reading experience. But I guess sometimes it's the retrospect that makes it all worth while. I literally cannot say anything about this plot line without fear of giving away a spoiler, so I'll casually stop here. I can say that the thriller portion of this book was my favorite. Although I have watched many adaptations of this author's work, Since We Fell was my first Dennis Lehane book that I have read. I plan to play a bit of catch-up in the near future. Check it out.

My favorite quote:
“The only people who ask questions like, ‘Did he want to be something besides a bartender,’ are people who can become whatever they want. The rest of us are just Americans.”
Profile Image for Katie.
267 reviews3,827 followers
June 18, 2017
Video review will be up soon :D
Profile Image for Monnie.
1,384 reviews761 followers
July 15, 2017
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.
Profile Image for Poonam.
605 reviews501 followers
July 1, 2017
Buddy Read with Nameeta, Rohisa, Anuradha and Emer

"Safety is an illusion we sell to children to help them sleep."

What a potential to make into an amazing story but sadly my expectations on this one were crushed into dust. It was sorely disappointing. The main reason was that I expected soo much more from this story having recently read Shutter Island by the same author!!

Well this has been classified as a Suspense Thriller but there is nothing thrilling about this book and the suspense bit of it is really a shame. All the time I kept waiting for this one Big twist but it never came.

The story started of well enough and there were some interesting threads that could have been spun into a good tale but those threads were just left dangling in mid air. The story veered off in all directions from making it unbelievable to thoroughly incredulous!!

At one point in the story this book strongly reminded me of the movie Knight and Day. If this was a movie rather than a book it would have been a cheesy romantic action movie with a 5 point rating!

All in all I have heard there are much better books out there by Lehane and Shutter Island is one of them, I can safely vouch for that.

I actually considered giving this a 1 star but that would be unfair as the writing is decent and the problem was My Expectation vs. the Reality. Hence giving this a 2 stars.
Profile Image for Marialyce (absltmom, yaya).
1,938 reviews722 followers
May 27, 2017
4 surprising stars

I have to admit I went into this book with the idea that I would hate it, but since my library is closed for renovations, and since this was the last book left in a pile of books, I sallied forth. I also have to say I was sucked in big time from the very onset of the story. Was it perfect? Nope! Did it have a predictable nature about it? Yes. Did it keep me turning the pages? Absolutely yes.

Suffice to say it is a thriller with its cast of nefarious souls. However in this bunch there were characters that you just loved to hate. Without giving anything away, let's just say that things are so often not what they seem to be and people as we well know are not always truthful., loving, and kind. Thinking like a Pollyanna is just not within the mantra of most people and certainly the characters in this novel were no Pollyanna's!

So, I have to thank Mr Lehane for a fun filled couple of days while I went on this adventure with Rachel and an assorted group of nefarious people and situations. It was a fun and entertaining romp.
Profile Image for Tammy.
506 reviews422 followers
December 13, 2019
I'm waiting for another Mystic River. Unfortunately, this isn't it. Since We Fell begins slowly as the main character is developed and picks up at the midpoint. The last third of the book requires the reader to suspend disbelief in really big ways. The dialogue even becomes stilted and just doesn't resonate. I'll keep waiting.
Profile Image for Karen.
758 reviews81 followers
May 22, 2017
Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane

Dennis Lehane has been one of my favorite author's since I met him and his wife at a book reading and signing at The Harvard Bookstore. I will always think "Mystic River," "Shutter Island," and "Any Given Day," were phenomenal and he has a great sense of humor and a deep insight into psychological aspects that make up human nature.

I went into my reading of "Since We Fell," totally blind. I didn't even read the synopsis on the book jacket and I am glad that I did. For at least 100 pages in the book delves into Rachel's upbringing with a very controlling mother who denies Rachel the identity of her father's name. It is left off of the birth certificate. Rachel goes on a quest to find her biological father and hires Brian Delacroix who will figure into the story in the second half of the book. He will be a significant person and a catalyst for the way she heals from a downward spiral. One of the questionable character's that ratchets up the tension in the second half of the book. The slow burn build up of this character study of Rachel pays off greatly in huge dividends as we witness a disaster that will define her life that happened while she was at working as a reporter in Haiti that further unravels her. Social media and it's consequences make her a full blown agoraphobic. There are so many more layers to this novel which is both literary and thrilling. This book defies any one genre. If you can appreciate Lehane's descriptive character study of all that Rachel endures including finding her father, her various job changes etc. Your understanding of Rachel as a three dimensional character will enhance your overall interpretations of her in the second half of the book where the speed limit is 55 mph and the thrills and action speed up to over 100 mph.

I don't want to give away any spoilers here as to ruin your reading experience. I just want to encourage the reader that the slow, dense descriptions of Rachel's life are finally understood when you get to the second part of the book. There seems almost to be two different books in one until you get to a betrayal that accelerates the action and will test Rachel's strength of identity. I was so thoroughly immersed in this novel that I read it in one sitting and did the minimum required of me to honor family commitments, and then rushed back to reading until I finished. This novel doesn't engage in the usual prototype of psychological thrillers that we have been bombarded with lately.
The novel is both literary and thrilling at the same time.

"Since We Fell" is Dennis Lehane's writing at his very best. There are abandonment issues, explorations into how well do we know our spouse, romance, conspiracies, some very dangerous characters, panic attacks, agoraphobia and the refreshing device of each chapter leading us on a continuation of the story from the chapter before. There are no alternating chapters of different points of view or going backward and forward in time. Thank you Dennis Lehane for another gripping, lyrical, character driven stand alone story.
Profile Image for Rincey.
786 reviews4,576 followers
September 5, 2017
You know that metaphor about killing a frog by placing it in tepid water and then slowly increasing the temperature until it comes to a boil? That's what this book felt like. Dennis Lehane builds the tension and the twists so slowly and then all of a sudden it is past your bedtime and you can't believe the ride this book has taken you on
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