In Before the Fall, Scott Burroughs survives the crash of a small airplane in the waters off Martha's Vineyard and saves another passenger. Noah Hawley creates a thrilling account of his survival and all he faces afterward: investigations by government agencies, pursuit by reporters, and interference from friends and family members. Scott turns out to be that rare person who can beat bureaucrats, bullies, and demagogues at their own games. I was in suspense right through the last page.
Hawley tells this story in 223 pages, but there are 390 pages in the book. The other 167 pages are devoted to chapters on the seven people who died in the plane crash. I skipped them all the first time through and thoroughly enjoyed the story.
When I was done, I went back and read the other chapters. They tell a bit about each of the people who died, who they were, what they did, how they came to be on that flight. They are character sketches. Each chapter confirmed the impression I had of a person in the first chapter when they all board the plane together. None of this changed my view of the main plot, Scott's triumph over those in power.
By itself's Scott's story is about the same length of those wonderful suspense novels from the era of paperback originals. The addition of the character sketches is one more example of how to make a book as long as publishers want them to be these days.