BLOG TOUR – Falling (UK title) / After We Fall (US title)

Product Details

First of all, to avoid confusion, this book was released in the UK with the original title of Falling, but for paperback release it’s been changed to After We Fall, which is also the US title.

The debut novel by ex-police and military psychologist Emma Kavanagh, it opens dramatically with a plane crash, then goes on to examine the before and after of the event’s effects on a number of people who are involved in some way. Also, there’s another storyline involving the murder of Libby Hanover, Police Community Support Officer and aspiring police officer, whose father is a retired policeman.

The main character is Cecilia Williams, an air stewardess who manages to shepherd “the lucky thirteen” survivors from the plane’s tail, which cracks away from the main body of the plane on impact with the ground. Despite her heroic behaviour, Cecilia is very confused and doesn’t know how to feel, given that that very morning she’d walked out on her husband Tom (a policeman who is part of the investigation into Libby Hanover’s death) and Ben, her two-year-old son, with whom she’s always struggled to bond. Yet the survivors, particularly one old woman, Maisie, see a wonderful, kind girl.

We also get to know the bereaved family of the pilot, Oliver Blake, who, despite his incessant womanising, has remained married to the long-suffering Adele, who tends to turn a blind eye to his countless indiscretions. They have two children – 23-year-old Freya, who’s no longer prepared to fall for the “perfect family” nonsense that’s peddled in their household, and determines to uncover the truth about her family, whatever the cost; and 17-year-old Richard, who Freya still attempts to protect, despite his age, and conceal from him her parents’ marital issues.

The other family who feature in the storyline are the Hanovers – Jim, particularly, plus Esther and son Ethan, who’ve lost their adored daughter and sister Libby to a seemingly motiveless murderer. This event causes Jim to re-evaluate his police career, and how much closure he really did bring to families when he solved a crime, particularly a murder, contrary to what he thought when on the job. He realises how helpless he is now, at his age and as a retired officer.

Cecilia, the main character, is initially difficult to like – her actions toward Tom and Ben seem incomprehensible, particularly when compared to her heroism at the scene of the crash, until we learn more about her past. I was, though, somewhat surprised newspaper reporters weren’t featuring her as some sort of “angel”, particularly given her good looks. The only interest newspaper reporters appear to be taking is in the confusion regarding the cause of the crash, which has left a lot of questions to be answered. To be honest, though, I rather liked Cecilia – there’s something more interesting, and honest, about a flawed character. Indeed, all of the characters in the book came across as realistic – doubtless a nod to Kavanagh’s background in psychology. I also found the dialogue rang true; in fact, it was excellent. I’ve said this several times this year, but in this case it really is hard to believe this is a debut novel, so assured is the plotting and characterisation. I flew through it in a couple of sittings, desperate to find out how things resolved themself – which, incidentally, they did perfectly, with not a loose end, to my eyes anyway. And for many of the characters, without giving too much away, there was no fairy tale ending – which is much more like life, than many novels’ conclusions.

I’ll certainly be starting Hidden soon, the next novel from Kavanagh, which was released in April. They’re both standalone novels (for those who worry about reading series in order!) If you enjoy fast-paced thrillers that also provide an intriguing puzzle, I’d heartily recommend Fallen / After We Fall. It would make perfect holiday reading – indeed, it would make a great read anytime!


As part of this blog tour, Emma has kindly agreed to explain why she chose to write, when she had her own psychological consultancy business, working with police and military personnel – which sounds like a fascinating job in itself!

Why Write?

At this point in my life, this question has come to resemble another question – why breathe? Because I have to. Now that this is my life and my job, the words come, whether I want them to or not. Stories seem to fly through the air, landing unbidden in my head, and, once they do that, the characters demand to be written.

However. It wasn’t always like this. Writing and I took a break from one another for a number of years. I lost my confidence. I saw other hobbies. We grew apart. What can I say?

Occasionally an idea would come and I would bat it away, inconvenient as a gnat at a mid-summer picnic.

And then one day, I didn’t.

I still remember that day. I was on a shooting range watching firearms officers being put through their paces. A story appeared in my head, coming from nowhere, and I went to bat it away, telling myself that I needed to concentrate – I was designing another training course and needed to pay attention to the cognitive processes encountered by the officers. But the idea refused to leave. It hung around as the live rounds were fired, as the bullet holes were located, as we trooped back to the armory. By the time I left that day, I had a main character and a story arc.

I also had a terrifyingly blank page and writing muscles that hadn’t been used in years.

I sat for a long time with a pen, some paper.

I stared and my stomach flipped. I couldn’t do this. It had been such a long time and look how blank that page was. And I was busy. I was running my own consultancy business, I was travelling more than I was home. When the hell would I have time to do this?

I put the pen down.

Then I picked it up again and began to write.

And it was like breathing after a long time underwater. What I wrote wasn’t good. In retrospect it was bad. Really bad. But the relief of writing again, of allowing the words to flow into me and out of me onto the page was simply exquisite. And I discovered that I could find within myself enough words to make up some kind of book, even a bad one.

Why write? Because now that I have begun again, I can’t not. Writing is who I am. Everything I see becomes instantly translated into words, molded and manipulated in my head so that the events I see come to form a story. I write because I have to.

Emma Kavanagh is a former police and military psychologist, and author of After We Fall: A Novel

(Sourcebooks). Twitter: @EmmaLK

Have you read Fallen / After We Fall? If so, what did you think? Or does it appeal to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts, as always!

BLOG TOUR Half The World Away – Cath Staincliffe

Product Details

First of all – apologies to crimeworm readers; I’m running a pile of days late with this, due to having a nasty bug, which I gave to Mr C, and which he, then, kindly returned to me! But isn’t that what love’s all about? Sharing and caring, through the good and the bad? (Nobody mentioned tummy bugs to me, though!) Then we had to go down to Glasgow to meet Mr C’s new (somewhat early, but thankfully hale and hearty) nephew. Primarily, apologies to the blog organisers, for letting you down date-wise.

I’m a big fan of Cath Staincliffe (who isn’t??! I’ve always thought she’d be great to go for a beer with; possibly due to my entirely unscientific study, based on personal experience, that people from or who live in Manchester are “a good laugh” – again a totally unscientific term.) I enjoyed Blue Murder, and I recently read a Scott and Bailey novel of hers. I also have Letters To My Daughter’s Killer to read, but, for me, this’ll be the first novel of hers I’ll have read containing characters of her own creation. A big appeal, for me, in Cath’s writing, whether it be for TV or a novel, is the ordinariness of her characters – they’re all pretty average families, doing pretty average jobs. And that’s not to say they’re dull – they’re just people we can relate to.

At the beginning of Half The World Away we meet Lorelei, daughter of Jo and Tom, now split, with Jo now married to Nick. (Tom seems a bit of a flibbertigibbet – unable to stick to one occupation, or indeed girlfriend, for long.) Together Jo and Nick have two young sons, Finn, 7, and five-year-old Isaac. Lorelei is heading to the Far East – Thailand, initially – on a break with friends after completing a photography degree. However, her trip takes a detour when she decides to ditch the friends she left with and go to China with a new group, unknown to her family, and teach English. All seems to be going well – she’s found a flat, she’s in a relationship, she’s working, happy, and even suggesting staying for a whole year – when, suddenly, communications cease. As weeks pass, frustrated by the slowness of the Chinese police’s actions and the British consul, Jo and Tom decide to head out to Chengdu, where Lori had been living, and see if they can hurry the investigation long.

Interspersed with the actions of her family at home are entries from Lori’s blog, cataloguing her travels. This is an effective way for us to get to know the main character, despite her absence (although I must say she seems very level-headed for a student let loose in a foreign country – it seems particularly bad luck, then, that such a sensible girl who wouldn’t take any silly risks would be the one who disappears.)

Chengdu is one of these new, massive cities that have sprung up in China since the millennium, but which many of us have never even heard of (unless, like me, you enjoy watching BBC2 programmes featuring Robert Peston or Niall Ferguson about China’s economic boom!) There’s constant noise and building work going on. Before they leave they’re given a contact at a British-based charity, Missing Overseas, and they’re put onto someone within the British consulate, Peter Dunne, but when it comes to the Chinese police, it seems the officer in charge, Superintendent Yin, has his own way of doing things – namely, as little as he can get away with. Jo and Tom decide to mount their own campaign, and gather Lori’s friends together, get a pile of leaflets printed, and go out on the streets to see if anyone can help them. However, it seems the Chinese people have a similar attitude to Superintendent Yin – they only want to hear about crimes once they’re solved. The unsolved ones, I presume, are simply forgotten about. During their search, Jo and Tom are arrested, and their press conference (and best hope) cancelled by the Chinese police, who seem determined to control every aspect of the investigation. The problem IS, there doesn’t seem to be much of one.

At home, things aren’t going fantastically, either, with Isaac having a medical emergency, resulting in Jo’s loyalties being torn between her children. Nick, on the surface at least, appears to be coping fine, so she remains in Chengdu, continuing the search. By now the desperate parents have decided the best hope of finding Lori safe lies with them – two people, in a city of millions, the majority of whom speak a different language.

I’m not going to mention any more about the search, or what they discover. This is a book, though, that may chill the heart of any parent with a child planning a gap year. In fact, if you fall into this category, I’d suggest definitely avoiding this book! The ghosts of young people like Lucie Blackman (although of course it was Japan where she disappeared) stalk the pages. I thought the city of Chengdu was portrayed exactly as I’ve seen these new cities on TV: the constant construction noise; the exotic, beautiful and historical sites; the tea houses; the bizarre groups who participate in synchronized movements in public (dance? Tai Chi? I have no idea!) It’s easy to imagine Jo’s feeling of sheer powerlessness as her child has vanished, seemingly into thin air, in this colossal metropolis.

Although this book is, initially, about a crime, by the end of it I took it to be about something else: family, and it’s resilience – at least most of the time. The characters, particularly Jo, were people you were really gunning to succeed, despite the terrible odds against them. Despite the heart-rending subject matter, this is a fairly fast read, and towards the end you’ll find yourself turning the pages even more rapidly. Bravo to Cath Staincliffe for the original setting and idea, and if you do decide to include this in your holiday reading, bear in mind what I said about steering clear if you’ve a teenager away travelling. Otherwise, look forward to an engrossing thriller-cum-story about family. Recommended.