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The Fall


The Fall

Let me start by saying that the cover of THE FALL isn’t entirely accurate. It is noted that the book is “Rebecca Hardy’s First Case.” But as we learn in this addition to John Lescroart’s fine Dismas Hardy canon, attorney Dismas’ daughter has had court cases prior to the one so prominently featured here, those being of the criminal variety involving offenses serious and otherwise, and usually pled out in one fashion or another. What the novel features, though, is Rebecca’s first jury trial --- and it is a very high-profile one indeed.

I was prepared not to like THE FALL, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that it is certainly one of Lescroart’s better books to date. I was concerned that he would transform Rebecca into some sort of attorney prodigy capable of slaying legal dragons to her left and right with the slash of a brief. If he had the temptation to portray her as such, he resisted it. She makes a number of freshman mistakes but covers well, and buries her own (understandable) insecurities under a confident façade at trial. Rebecca is defending Greg Treadway in a murder trial that has become a lightning rod for one of the many activist groups that pimple the backside of San Francisco.

"THE FALL is both a mystery and a courtroom thriller in the best ways possible, and will leave you hoping for the return of Rebecca Hardy in Lescroart’s next book."

The reason for the trial is the death of a teenage girl named Anlya Paulson. Anlya has had a difficult life, to say the least, but was getting her feet under her in foster care when her life ended as the result of a fall from the overpass of San Francisco’s famed Stockton Tunnel. While there were no direct witnesses, a number of people overheard a young woman (probably Anlya) arguing with a man shortly before she fell to her death. It seems that Treadway was more than acquainted with Anlya. In addition to being a popular middle school teacher, Treadway, a special advocate for foster children, had been representing Anlya’s brother. More telling, though, is that he and Anyla had been seen having dinner together --- and possibly quarreling --- on the night she died. Treadway, though caught in a lie about their relationship, vehemently denies having any part in her murder.

Interestingly enough, there are a number of other possible suspects. But the San Francisco Police Department and the D.A.’s office are under a great deal of pressure to close the case and bring the murderer to justice. Rebecca makes her case in some instances, while committing a few rookie errors in others. Dismas is there, of course, to advise and help when necessary, but not even he can answer the question that bothers Rebecca: Is her client the victim of a rush to judgment, or is there something off about his protestations of innocence? And if he did not kill Anlya, then who did? The answers will surprise you and keep you reading.

There is a true mystery at the heart of THE FALL, a real whodunit, with multiple suspects, both likely and otherwise. Even if you follow the school of thought suggesting that the least likely suspect/character will be the culprit, Lescroart gives you a couple of those as well. He also, practically in the middle of the proceedings, drops a clue in a manner not unlike a spider plopping into a bowl of breakfast cereal, but it’s a clue that will keep you guessing for a while as to its legitimacy. The twists and turns come quickly and heavily starting about three-quarters of the way through, with Lescroart lobbing a hand grenade or two into the room (well, more like a loose cannon) near the end, just to wrap things up. By the time you finish, you’ll feel like you were rode hard and put down wet, as they say in my part of the country, but in a good way.

THE FALL is both a mystery and a courtroom thriller in the best ways possible, and will leave you hoping for the return of Rebecca Hardy in Lescroart’s next book. If she survives the end of this one, that is.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on May 8, 2015

The Fall
by John Lescroart

  • Publication Date: July 18, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • ISBN-10: 147670922X
  • ISBN-13: 9781476709222