What a killer opening line (no pun intended). When I heard Dennis Lehane speak and read the other night, he mentioned that an opening line works best when a character wants something, because then the reader will stick with the story until the character gets it. And someone shooting their husband is a pretty important day in someone’s life.
Asked where ideas for his novels come from, Lehane replied that there is no hard and fast rule – the idea for Since We Fell came from an image in his mind of a person reflected in multi-refracted glass at a well-known Boston building. Who was this character, he asked. It was the main character’s husband. Okay, why does it matter that his wife saw him here? Well, he’s not supposed to be there? Well, where is he supposed to be? London! Alright, but it’s raining, so did our main character really see him? Can she be trusted? Why would we question it? She had a mental breakdown!
Lehane traced for his audience the inception of the idea for this novel from a simple image to how the idea fleshed out in his mind.
This is a large part of what makes Since We Fell another unique Dennis Lehane novel. It is filled with interesting fleshed out characters led down a complex path. I’ve read a few reader reviews on Amazon complaining that the novel is “too different than what they are used to from Lehane.” I feel like these reviewers are missing the point – not of the novel, but of writing in general. A novelist should be writing something different and unique. If I wanted to read the same novel over and over, I’d pick up whatever it is James Patterson is publishing this week. I read Lehane novels because I know I can expect something fresh and different.
It seems the only well that Lehane ever really returns to is his New England (specifically Boston) settings. Since We Fell doesn’t return to any other well besides its geographical setting. Lehane spins a remarkable Hitchcockian story of a woman who is a prisoner of her own fears when the circumstances surrounding her force her to break out and confront the world around her.
It’s a fascinating story – disturbing, dark, and brooding. I told Mr. Lehane how much I enjoyed the novel and that I felt it ended in a very interesting place, and I asked if he felt he’d ever revisit the characters. He said he’d heard that more than once, but right now, he doesn’t feel he’d come back to them, but he never says never.
Since We Fell is a must-read if you are a fan of Hitchcockian style literature.