Author: Tammy Cohen
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️✨ (3.5 stars)
Hannah had a perfect life in London—a loving husband, a great job—until she did something shocking. Something that she doesn’t quite understand herself; and now she has landed herself in a high-risk psychiatric unit.
Since Hannah has been admitted, two women have died, including Charlie, one of her closest friends in the institution. It’s a high-risk unit, the authorities say. Deaths happen. But Hannah knows Charlie wouldn’t have killed herself. She is convinced there’s a serial killer picking off the patients one by one, passing their deaths off as suicides. But why? And who will believe her?
Corinne, Hannah’s mother, is worried sick about her eldest daughter. She hates that she’s ended up in the unit, though she knows it’s the best place for her to get the treatment she needs. At first, Corinne assumes Hannah’s outlandish claims about a killer in the unit are just another manifestation of her psychological condition, but as she starts to uncover strange inconsistencies surrounding the unit’s charismatic director, Dr. Roberts, she begins to wonder if her daughter might have stumbled upon the truth.
But who can Corinne trust, when she doesn’t even trust her own daughter?
Mental health was like those crazy kaleidoscopic patterns that went round and round and folded in on themselves and then out again … The lucky ones rode it out. The unlucky ones got sucked inside. There was no finish line with a big banner across it reading ‘CURED’. There was just waking up one morning and realizing you didn’t mind so much about having to get up.
They All Fall Down is a quick and twisty psychological thriller set primarily in a mental institution where things may not all be as they seem. Hannah Lowell isn’t so sure she belongs there in the first place, and her unease and paranoia only grow as she learns more about the people around her … and about herself.
The novel opens straightaway with the accusation that the suicides have been staged and Hannah’s fear that she could be next, which made me expect we were to hit the ground running. But the first half of the story drags along, introducing us to the cast of characters and teasing at the reasons for Hannah’s stay without divulging much new information. It was frustrating to be so blatantly kept in the dark about Hannah’s past – you know what she’s done can’t be too terrible, given that her family’s still visiting her in the ritzy psych unit where she’s landed herself, and from there, it’s not especially hard to guess. I was more interested in how quickly it becomes clear that none of the narrators we bounce between are guaranteed to be reliable, though a downside of that is how it can be hard to connect with the characters because we’re kept somewhat at arm’s length.
Despite all that, once the plot kicks into gear, the rest of the novel goes by in a breeze. The chapters are short but each one delivers a bang, dropping you some sort of hint that you’re not sure if you can trust because of the character divulging it. Before you have time to find your bearings, you’re already thrown into someone else’s perspective. I was flipping through the pages, trying to keep track of the red herrings and trying to decide if I could trust Hannah. Is it all in her head? Some might not find it difficult to guess the whodunnit, but I guarantee the real journey is figuring out the why. The ending is deliciously twisty (if not a little outlandish), and you won’t see it coming.
I also appreciated the focus on the stigma around mental illness. Hannah and her family must reevaluate their understanding of not just her condition but of the conditions of the other patients in the institution. It’s a shame we don’t see much character development with those other patients because of the need to play things close to the chest to pull off the plot, but I’m still grateful that Cohen sheds light on important topics.
Overall, I enjoyed They All Fall Down. It had a rocky start and I never felt like I truly connected with the characters, but it’s still a fun read that spirals very quickly into a wild ride.
Thank you to Pegasus Books for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.