Review of Since we Fell by Dennis Lehane

Lehane usually gets it right. From the days of Mystic River, when I pick up a Lehane novel, I’m already convinced, this is going to be a great read. 

Since We Fell feels like two books in one. The heroine, Rachel, is raised by a single-mother, a self-help, marriage expert who keeps a secret from her daughter: the identity of Rachel’s father. The last time Rachel saw her father, he was walking out the door, to her mother’s threat that, “I will expunge you.” Rachel’s only memories of the man are that he smells like corduroy and coffee. 

When Rachel is in college, her mother suddenly dies without revealing to Rachel the identity of her father. So, Rachel undertakes her own search, which offers up a foreshadowing of her ultimate fate.

Rachel’s search for her father, it turns out, is only her backstory. The rest of the novel portrays Rachel’s life as an adult, starting with her rise through the ranks at a top Boston newspaper, then jumping to TV news. She marries a big shot producer—a match more of matrimonial convenience than true love. When a catastrophic hurricane hits the island of Haiti, Rachel is given what could be her big break and her step to a top news anchor post. Unfortunately, when Rachel gets to Haiti, the death and destruction overcome her, and she suffers an on-air nervous break-down, which costs her both her job and her marriage. 

Rachel becomes a recluse, until she meets a mysterious man from her past—someone she met while searching for her father. Brian, a likable guy, helps Rachel overcome her agoraphobia, and seems truly to love her. 

But, of course, there’s more to it. Brian has another side—another life—that breaks through the barrier separating the two worlds, and places him and Rachel in mortal danger. Brian goes from hero to anti-hero, but Lehane’s magic is such that I kept right on rooting for him, hoping that he and Rachel would walk, or run, together into the sunset together.