ARC Review/Guest Post: After We Fall by Emma Kavanagh


A moody, intense debut psychological thriller by a former police psychologist, this debut novel explores four lives that fall apart in the tense aftermath of a plane crash, perfect for fans of Tana French, S. J. Watson, and Alice LaPlante. Unraveling what holds these four together is a tense, taut tale about good people who make bad decisions that ultimately threaten to destroy them. Debut author Emma Kavanagh deftly weaves together the stories of those who lost someone or something of themselves in one tragic incident, exploring how swiftly everything we know can come crashing down.


I received a digital copy of the book via Netgalley in exchange of an honest review.

The main reason why I requested this galley was the fact it is actually written by a police psychologist! Yes, I work as Forensic Psychologist by day and read books by night and I also know that I shouldn’t want to read the same kind of books that I get to live in by day. But I find it quite fascinating to understand humans and their behaviour by other’s POV because no one ever perceives the same human quite similar. Every perception, every opinion differs from person to person. Isn’t that the most amazing thing ever?

A plane falls out of the sky. A woman is murdered. Four people all have something to hide.

Emma’s debut novel retitled – is an interesting story. Again, I still say this as a psychologist rather than a reader. This story involves four people – four people whose paths hadn’t crossed before but will now – and all because of a plane crash.

How are these people and their lives intersecting? How are the people who have never met before, how are these people and their secrets influencing the lives of others!?

I would tell you, but frankly that would spoil your journey of understanding and unraveling the mystery yourself.

The story – told in differing POV’s is a little hard to get into first – especially if you aren’t used to the writing style. Ms. Kavanagh has a tendency to shift focus from past to present without warning – this took a little time to get used to! But once you do, this is a brilliant book that I couldn’t put down.

The characters are also eclectic bunch – there is a flight attendant who has problems accessing her emotions, a detective who is sympathetic yet trying to keep his life from being unraveled, a daughter who is doing her best to understand the circumstances that she is thrust into and a grieving father.

It is a nail biting experience to come to understand how these people’s lives are intertwined, but it’s a journey that I am glad that I took despite the trouble I had getting into the book because this jounery is not about the plot but about the characters’ responses to the trauma they are suddenly thrust headlong into!

A book that has made me interested enough to check out Emma’s others books 🙂

Also, Ms. Kavanagh has consented to write a small guest post – do not forget to check it out at the end of this review! ❤


⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐


This is a book that is different from others – you are just going to have to read to find out why! 😉



How does your background as a police psychologist affect your writing?

I spent many years working with specialist police teams throughout the UK and NATO personnel throughout Europe. My role involved teaching people what happens to the brain when you are in a high-risk situation.

So, for example, if someone points a gun at you, it is common to see a whole range of behavioral and psychological effects, such as changes in the decision making process, attentional spotlighting, and the reliance on muscle memory. I saw these effects in a huge range of situations, and spent a lot of time designing training to help improve police and military performance in high-stress incidents.

When I write, I write about high stress. All works of fiction need tension. Crime writing needs tension more than most. When we read crime fiction, we are reading about some of the worst things that a person can be exposed to, and we are watching these characters try to cope with a situation that will push them to their limits.

For me, when I am writing crime, the psychological impact of it plays a huge role on what my characters experience. I have always been fascinated by the ways in which people respond to trauma. In After We Fall, the characters are left reeling from a plane crash and a murder, and, in order to write their responses, I was heavily influenced by my understanding of the myriad ways in which people react when their lives have been threatened.

I think there are few things more interesting than psychology. It provides us with a window into the minds of our characters and allows us to understand what would drive people to do things that, from the outside, can appear unthinkable.

Emma Kavanagh is a former police and military psychologist, and author of After We Fall: A Novel (Sourcebooks). Twitter: @EmmaLK

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