...a pleasantly twisted character study and a love story told in no particular rush ... Lehane, is, as ever, a graceful writer, observant of the world that shapes his characters’ lives. The desperation that overtakes Rachel in the latter stages of the novel is part of the national baring of the teeth ... There’s nothing dubious about the merits here. Lehane is in command of what he’s doing — unspooling plot twists and developing his character as Rachel descends into her own heart of darkness.
[There is] an opener worthy of Raymond Chandler or James Cain, and the rest of this novel — a sleek thriller that, despite its turbocharged pace, explores the nature of love and evil — is just as gripping ... Since We Fell feels distinctly cinematic. Its dialogue is crisp and often darkly funny, its characters vividly drawn, its plot a tightening wire of well-crafted suspense ... Suffice it to say that anyone who has read Mystic River or Shutter Island knows that questions of identity, memory and reality have long been Lehane's raw material — and that, along with being one of the best crime fiction writers in the business, he's also an adept, insightful chronicler of romance.
The turn, when it comes, is both satisfying and somehow disappointing. Until now, the high-wire act Lehane has managed — to craft a character thriller, a psychological nail-biter based on real emotion and relatable anxiety — has been the rarest kind of page-turner, one in which character, not plot, drives the book’s addictiveness. The thriller that emerges in the last 100-plus pages is more than satisfying on its own merits. Lehane takes all of Rachel’s weaknesses, the tools she has used to overcome her deep psychological flaws, and turns them into strengths in navigating a world gone mad ... But at the same time, there is something reductive about the last third of the book. A story that flirted with the unsolvable mysteries of a human being called Rachel becomes a simple tale of what happens next.
It’s a big book with a bright, damaged young woman at its center and a twisty, movie-ready plot that’s a little bit Alfred Hitchcock, a little bit Shutter Island ... The dialogue and plotting are typically Lehane sharp, but there’s oddly little sense of place, a stunning departure from the writer who caught Boston’s grit in his Patrick Kenzie/Angie Gennaro novels...The atmosphere he created so memorably in that novel, the history that falls like leaves on a graveyard and makes Boston fertile ground for crime fiction, is replaced by stale descriptions of crowds outside Fenway and industrial decay in Rhode Island ... Hollywood will love it — there is much to admire and filmmakers are not bound by the book when it comes to creating atmosphere. Some readers, however, especially fans, may feel different about at least that part.
Free of the period demands of his excellent recent novels, Lehane is in feisty form, channeling classic noir with cutting irony. As ever, he has you falling for his seemingly effortless command as a writer and the ease with which he sinks his hooks into you.
Suffice it to say that this second part of Since We Fell is sharply different from the first. Instead, it’s packed with signs that Lehane sold this story to the movies, which he did, in 2015, and that he loves the Hitchcock classics that prey on mistrust. Suddenly, he begins delivering nonstop suspense only loosely rooted in Rachel’s story and its foundations ... Rachel works extremely well as the focus of the book. Lehane has always written wrenching female characters into his stories, and he has no trouble giving center stage to one ... Her options narrow as the book becomes more crime-centric and throws her into life-or-death situations rather than contemplative ones. But she’s as much of a pragmatist as anyone Lehane ever dreamed up.
...early on, it seems this will prove less a vintage Lehane crime novel than a compelling psychological study of a troubled and flawed woman ... Because Lehane has so successfully and sympathetically drawn Rachel, readers are likely to be vested in her. I was. And as Rachel investigates Brian, coming out of her shell in the process, the book becomes as compelling as anything Lehane has written in the past. That is, until the story starts to unravel. To explain how and why it disappoints would reveal too much of the plot. Everything turns on Brian accurately anticipating what everyone will do, as unlikely as some actions may be. Since We Fell is a worthy effort, but ultimately it is not up to Lehane's standards.
...the surfeit of plot twists and emotional baggage are buoyed by Lehane’s hard-boiled lyricism and peerless feel for New England noir. But there’s also a whiff of pandering ... Lehane seems to be shuffling his deck of plot cards as the narrative lurches, settling into a grinding action-crime procedural involving a goldmine scam, cliched hit men, gruesome murders, preposterous resurrections ... Lehane’s goal for his heroine may have been ambitious, but — like Brian — he lets her down.
A lot of thrillers boast twisty plots, but Lehane plies his corkscrew on more than the story line. The mood and pace of the novel change directions, too, jumping from thoughtful character study to full-on suspense thriller, like a car careening down San Francisco’s Lombard Street, cautiously at one moment, hell-bent at another. But this narrative vehicle never veers out of control, and when Lehane hits the afterburners in the last 50 pages, he produces one of crime fiction’s most exciting and well-orchestrated finales—rife with dramatic tension and buttressed by rich psychological interplay between the characters. Don’t be surprised if Since We Fell makes readers forget about that other psychological thriller featuring an unstable heroine named Rachel.
When you think of mind-numbingly dull fiction, you typically do not think of Dennis Lehane. Well, I have bad news for you. His latest one is a real letdown, unless your idea of a good time involves a person looking at photographs and asking a whole lot of questions. This book is over 400 pages, and it takes about half of those pages before the actual plot starts to kick in ... The pacing in Since We Fell is bizarre, to say the least. I don’t think Lehane quite knew what he wanted to do with this book, and it shows.
What seems at the start to be an edgy psychological mystery seamlessly transforms into a crafty, ingenious tale of murder and deception—and a deeply resonant account of one woman’s effort to heal deep wounds that don’t easily show.
...[an] expertly wrought character study masquerading as a thriller ... The book’s conspiracy plot doesn’t cut the deepest; it’s Lehane’s intensely intimate portrayal of a woman tormented by her own mind.
Rachel sets out on a search to find her dad, making us think, of course, that this is the narrative drive for the novel, that it’s going to be a deep psychological study that takes its time investigating Rachel’s crippling longing to fit in, to belong, to not be abandoned. But not so fast. Halfway through the novel, Rachel’s desperate search for her father shifts gears, and suddenly the whole tone and tension of the book goes into delicious overdrive … This is a really smart novel about who we are, and who we choose to be, and how, if ever, we can know the difference.