The Falling Woman

A cross-country flight crashes and appears to kill everyone on board, but rumors of a sole survivor hit the news in Richard Farrell's mind-rattling debut mystery, The Falling Woman.

Erin Geraghty, a mother and high-powered lawyer, has received test results giving her only six months to live. Fed up with chemo treatments and pitiful looks from her family, she boards Pointer Airlines Flight 795 to attend a healing retreat. The plane explodes in midair.

On his first day as a lead investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, Charlie Radford is assigned to unravel what happened to Flight 795 and identify the gruesome remains of 123 passengers scattered over a five-mile radius. His team scoffs at rumors of a lone survivor, but journalists pounce on the idea of a possible miracle. Television and newspaper headlines claim a woman walked away uninjured and that the NTSB isn't telling families the whole truth. Passengers' loved ones force politicians to demand answers. Charlie's higher-ups give him an ultimatum: find the woman who fell from the sky or become the fall guy.

Page after page, Farrell builds confusion and frustration into an incendiary debate between belief in the miraculous and the basic laws of physics. Young, hapless Charlie flails, searching for a survivor science says cannot possibly exist. He knows how to find missing pieces of a person but not a whole missing person, especially one who doesn't want to be found. When he finally discovers the truth, what Charlie does with it will make for an explosive discussion long after the final chapter. --Paul Dinh-McCrillis, freelance reviewer