In this debut thriller by a former flight attendant, the family of a pilot about to take off in New York is kidnapped by a terrorist. The ultimatum: Crash the plane and kill all 143 passengers, or the pilot's own family will be murdered.
Like all good thrillers, Falling gets off to a dramatic start and maintains its momentum ... Newman's various narrative strands resemble high-voltage live wires. One tense predicament replaces another, from poison gas attacks to mutinous passengers to orders to kill the co-pilot or shoot down the plane. The suspense is heightened by the fact that the terrorist is not open to negotiation ... Sporadic flashbacks to the past are a distraction and clunky clichés mar some of the dialogue ... But these are mere niggles when set against the book's considerable strengths, not least its frenetic pace, numerous cliffhangers and one almighty twist. Ignore the blizzard of hype, suspend all disbelief and enjoy the ride.
Newman’s premise is terrific—so terrific, in fact, that it will divert you from thinking too much about the plot’s basic problems, like never understanding why Bill has been targeted, or the ridiculousness of the way that the terrorist gains access to Bill’s travel bag ... The action zips along at such a breakneck pace that you won’t have time to ponder such persnickety details ... The president gets involved. So do the New York Yankees. If it all sounds a bit absurd, it is, but the book’s high-octane thrills go a long way in mitigating its over-the-topness. When I finished, all I could think was, I’m so glad I didn’t read this before I got on my first post-lockdown flight last month.
... a smart airline thriller that is equal parts homage to the 1970s Airport film franchise and a 21st-century examination of failed American foreign policy ... The plot’s construction is elevator-pitch gold ... in a way, everyone is suspect, or at least complicit, when we learn that the terrorists here are Kurdish, and that they’re seeking revenge for being left to die when the Trump administration abandoned them in northern Syria. It’s a long haul to make terrorists empathetic, and to Newman’s credit, she doesn’t try. Instead, she merely tries to make them understandable. Revenge is a dish Americans love to consume, which makes Falling emotionally complex in surprising and refreshing ways ... That’s not to say Falling doesn’t have its missteps—dialogue is not Newman’s specialty, so she ends up leaning into cliche ... Still, Falling is expertly paced ... a rich and assured debut.