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Thursday, May 13, 2021

New in PaperbackThe Falling Woman by Richard Farrell

The Falling Woman by Richard Farrell
Published by Algonquin Books ISBN 9781643751399
Trade paperback, $16.95, 352 pages

In Richard Farrell's debut novel The Falling Woman, Erin is fighting a tough battle with pancreatic cancer. When she and her husband Doug, who has been by her side caring for her, receive the latest test results, the news is not great. She is not in remission, but she will need to continue treatment, to keep fighting.

Erin is tired, and not sure how much longer she can fight. She decides to fly to a cancer survivors retreat, something that concerns Doug. The flight that Erin is on crashes over the Kansas farmland, and it appears there are no survivors.

But Erin is thrown from the plane and lands in a barn. She is found by the owner, and taken to the hospital. Before she can be questioned by the authorities as to what happened, Erin disappears.

Charlie is an investigator for the NTSB. This accident is the first major case he is assigned to, and if he does a good job, he will move up the ranks and gain respectability. He is assigned to identify the 123 bodies, a gruesome and difficult task, but one he takes very seriously.

When rumors of a female survivor swirl, the media leaps on the story. The lead investigator assigns Charlie to track the woman, and determine whether she exists or it is a hoax. This upsets Charlie, he feels it is a waste of time, and he is in a no-win situation.

Erin hides out in a cabin in Virginia, she has decided not to tell anyone that she is alive. Her husband and daughters have already mourned once, and they will have to mourn all over again when she dies of cancer.

Charlie tracks her down and tries to convince her that she must come forward. She owes it to her family, and the families of the other six women who hold out hope that it is their loved one who is the survivor.

The scenes between Charlie and Erin are the heart of this intriguing story. Can he convince her to come forward and save his job or will Erin convince him that she is entitled to live out her final days in peace? Charlie also confides in Erin about a major step he and his wife have to decide.

We see the government bureaucracy at work as the higher-ups in the NTSB want to shift blame for anything that can go wrong with the investigation, and I found the steps the investigators took at the crash sight intriguing.  I liked the character of Lucy, the investigator who put forth the idea that other people have survived plane crashes and maybe someone did here as well.

There is action and two characters thrown together who have to convince the other of what is morally right. The Falling Woman feels like a cross between The Fugitive movie and Ann Napolitano's novel Dear Edward.  Readers will spend time wondering what they would do in Charlie and Erin's positions. Farrell's first novel is thought-provoking, it will be interesting to see where he goes with his next one.

Thanks to Algonquin Books for putting me on Richard Farrell's tour.

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