Tough American crime novelist changes gear and makes main character a troubled insecure woman who kills her husband. Guns give way to deep psychology.
Like so many mystery authors who have been drawn into screenwriting, Lehane writes best when he’s thinking solely about a book. “World Gone By,” the elegiac 2015 novel that preceded this one, had a tragic grandeur that is never approached by this less credible, more action-oriented thriller. But “World Gone By” had none of the tricks, shocks, visual effects, mad coincidences and disguises that propel “Since We Fell.” And Lehane is no slouch at those, either. He remains one of the great, diabolical thriller kings who seems intimately acquainted with darkness and can make it seep from the page or screen.
In its second half, however, it starts revving up into a complex series of thrillerish twists and plot surprises, revealing actual con artists rather than failing people, ultimately becoming, however pacey, implausible: reducing itself back to genre. Thus Lehane, a crime writer fully the equal of more ostensibly literary authors, reveals in a single novel the fault-lines between entertainment and seriousness, distraction and attention. Still, a very good book.
There are no grotesques here, no facile cliffhangers, no red herrings so obviously stale they’re stinking the joint. Since We Fell is a deliciously old-fashioned melodrama about ordinary people doing extraordinary things, a brilliantly unconventional domestic noir that confirms Lehane’s mastery of the crime narrative in all its varied forms.
With sharply acute characterisation, this is classic Lehane. And since some of it is set in London, there’s an added piquancy for the British reader.