Ballantine Books, © 2016
304 pages, $26.00
Looks can be deceiving. That’s what ELLIE LARRABEE finds out moments after saying “I do” when the man of her dreams reveals in one shocking sentence a truth that shakes her world. Everything she has taken for granted is built on shifting sands and suddenly her vision of a happy future is in grave peril.
The book opens in an idyllic scene: beautiful blonde in a swank hotel on an island paradise. Behind her on the bed is a man, one drunken hand thrown over his forehead, sheet drawn over his naked torso. From there, the reader is drawn deeper and deeper into this twisted tale of betrayal and violence, secrets and intrigue, as Ellie attempts to salvage her dreams—as well as her life and her husband’s—and finds herself wondering just how far she will go to have her happily-ever-after.
Just Fall is a mesmerizing thriller woven between present-day scenes and flashbacks, meting out clues in just the right measure. At first I found the flashbacks confusing, since they don’t appear in chronological order; but their seemingly random revelation is cleverly done. I was quickly captivated by Sadowksi’s method, which made it less predictable, though not one whit less captivating.
With every twist, I found myself more mystified as to what was actually going on. It doesn’t take long to figure out who the bad guys are (or so I thought), but everything here is not as it seems. When the big reveal came near the end, I was unprepared. This masterful plot, deliciously executed, kept me riveted, turning the pages through to the last.
Settings and scenery come to life in Sadowksy’s descriptive turns of phrase. I could feel the ocean breeze, see the colorful island buildings, smell the salt air. Every character felt real: Ellie’s trusting vulnerability, Rob’s reticence, Lucien’s integrity. As the true extent of Ellie’s dilemma is slowly revealed, it grew easier to believe her actions matched her persona, for who among us knows what we might be capable of under such dire circumstances? There is no absolute in this story. Every ethical decision is a shade of grey, and Ellie’s choices will keep you thinking long after you finish the book.
Though Sadowsky has worked as an entertainment lawyer, a producer, a screenwriter, and a director, Just Fall is her debut novel, a real treat for anyone who loves good suspense. I am definitely hooked on her style, and will be on the lookout for her next literary contribution!