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When Heroines Go Rouge

Author: Dennis Lehane

Rachel has always been a seeker. Seeking meaning, seeking love, seeking connection, seeking answers. As a young woman, she sought the answer for her famous mother’s coldness. She sought a father and found a friend, and later, she sought the love she had always wanted in a marriage that left her, once again, feeling worthless and alone.

Only as a journalist does her bravery, her promise, exist, but when an assignment to Haiti breaks her emotionally, her promising career ends. Rachel has become a meme – that journalist who broke down on air – and everywhere she goes, she feels the laughter and sneers. She has never been, will never be, good enough. But then, he comes back into her life: a chance encounter in her better days, a sometimes weird friend, and now a lover, a comforter. Brian is the perfect boyfriend and later the perfect husband. He understands Rachel’s paranoia, her inability to go out and be seen, her feelings of complicity and imperfection, the scenes that haunt her from Haiti and what she was responsible for there. As a matter of fact, Brian is almost too perfect . . . so one day when Rachel sees him where he shouldn’t be, she puts aside her fear to investigate. Is the one person in her life who she trusted not the man she thinks? And if so, what’s his real angle?

man with mask

https://pixabay.com/images/id-5100676/

Since We Fell is my first encounter with Dennis LeHane. The Book of the Month review was just too intense, too promising to ignore, and so I grabbed the book and promptly forgot it, letting it collect dust on my shelves until a chance grab as I walked by my bookshelf left it in my hands and opened my imagination to a dark but relatable world. Rachel’s story starts slow, and like real life where she starts is far from where she ends. The story twists and turns, starting as one thing and slowly morphing into something altogether different. But ultimately, it’s a story of identity.

The story goes from under-dog-seeks-family into a full fledged James-Bond thriller, yet it never losses the threads that keep it viable. Rachel’s complicated persona, her extreme weakness, is offset by the glimpses we saw in the beginning, the indefatigable side of her spirit that keeps her questioning right into and through danger. This is the Rachel that rises from the ashes and her confrontation with Brian leads into a greater intrigue, complete with goons, grifts, hostages, showdowns, and a murder or two. When the coin flips, we are left almost as blindsided and surprised as Rachel. And then, Since We Fell starts really kicking, and it’s brutal and pulse pounding and beautiful as we watch our down-and-out heroine transform.

I couldn’t put this book down, and I was with Rachel from the beginning: the seemingly irrelevant search for a father all the way to into her too-good-to-be-true romance and out the other side. As Rachel’s life nose dives, her fear takes a backseat to the fierce person she always was under the surface, and the bad-guys are in for a surprise. But if you’re expecting the heroine to always remain pure . . . well, you just might be in the wrong story. So buckle up and get ready to watch this unassuming sleeper go off the rails. I will most certainly be buying more Denis LeHane books, starting with an Audible download of Mystic River today.

– Frances Carden

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Frances Carden
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