Psychological Suspense

Falling by T.J. Newman Review

As a former flight attendant, this high-action, high-stakes thriller (by a former bookseller turned flight attendant) about a hijacked plane and a pilot’s kidnapped family and only tough choices was one I had to pick up. And I devoured it. In two sittings.

When Captain Bill Hoffman arrives at Los Angeles’ LAX airport (bypassing the more stringent security checks) to pilot a flight from LA to NYC, he doesn’t yet know that his family (wife and two kids) have been taken and that once the plane’s reached cruising altitude, the kidnapper will contact him with a simple demand: crash the plane, or we kill your family.

To make sure Bill knows what’s at stake, his family’s been outfitted with explosive vests. To make sure he follows through, there’s another terrorist on board. The demands are obviously not simple, and Bill’s not about to decide either way. Instead, he’s determined to find a solution that will keep both passengers and his family alive. But what do you do when anyone could be the one watching you? How do you communicate with the crew and contact authorities without the terrorists catching on? When every step you take and word you speak in the cockpit is under scrutiny? 

Falling is T.J. Newman’s debut novel, and it’s an absolute thrill of a ride. Given her background, the accuracy of the setting (lingo, pilot and flight attendant routine, and how all those doodads on board work) is so spot on they add a level of realism that makes this psychological thriller spark to life. I’m reminded of the thriller Shiver written by former snowboard pro Allie Reynolds, which was another standout for me this year.

From page one, Newman has readers hooked with both plot and characters. The narrative flows at a breakneck pace from Bill’s perspective through slick twists and turns, driven by the additional element of the whodunnit mystery. Who is the second terrorist on board? Who can the reader (and Bill) trust? Falling’s characters (flight attendant Jo will win your heart) bring in the relationship dynamics that make this story unique. Because while the problems we face may not be new, the way we solve them is. And, book lovers, get ready for some fascinating problem solving here!

A thrill to read from start to finish.

Libro.fm gifted me with an ALC of Falling, which I listened to in tandem while reading the book. The audiobook performance is incredibly well done and brings across both the driving action and urgency of the plot. There’s nuance in the delivery of the dialogue, and each character has a distinct voice, making the story easy to follow. It’s one of those audiobook performances that you can just slip into, with or without the book at hand. Highly recommend.


Book: Falling
Published: Simon Schuster
Pages: 304
Publication Date: July 6th, 2021
Stars: 4.5/5

Jonathan Ball Publishers kindly sent me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion, rating, or the content of my review.

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