Audiobook review: ‘The Man who Fell from the Sky’ by William Norris

Narrator: Tom Beyer

Length: 10 hours, 1 minute

Today I’m reviewing a fascinating true crime audiobook, which explores the bizarre life and death of ’20s tycoon Alfred Loewenstein, and how this multi-millionaire vanished into thin air. I don’t normally listen to a lot of non-fiction, but I love a true crime story and the premise of this one grabbed my attention.

Captain Alfred Loewenstein was known as many things during his glamorous and gaudy life. Companion of the Bath, friend of kings, an aviator and sportsman, a maker and loser of fortunes, and most favorably, a multi-millionaire. That is, until his mysterious death.

On a July evening in 1928, Loewenstein boarded his aircraft with six others to travel from England to Brussels. He never arrived. While flying over the English Channel, Loewenstein fell through an exit door of the airplane on his way to the lavatory.

People were quick to explain his mysterious death. Many said his fall was an accident while others speculated that he jumped from the plane to commit suicide. And of course, there were the more sinister theories claiming that someone pushed him out of the aircraft. But who? And why?

Investigative journalist William Norris develops a theory of how and why this prominent, rich, and famous man died so violently without any explanation or official investigation. Did Loewenstein fall, did he jump, or was he pushed from his own aircraft?

The Man Who Fell From the Sky contains excitement and mystery as Norris researches the business tycoon’s life, death, and aftermath of his demise and comes to a conclusion of how Alfred Loewenstein vanished into thin air.

William Norris has done a thorough job of investigating every last detail in Loewenstein’s life, including rather a lot of forensic accounting. Most of the details were interesting, and I loved the way that he went about looking in what could have happened with the plane’s door. I think it’s safe to say that no stone was left unturned.

There was rather a lot of information, about two thirds of the way through, about stocks and share, and as someone who doesn’t know a great deal about 1920s financing, I felt this section to be rather dry. However, I’m sure that it was a valuable point of the tale for anyone who does know about this type of thing, and it did turn out to be relevant. Some listeners may like to skip through this bit though!

The quality of the narration was excellent. However, I was a little bit confused by the narrator feeling the need to adopt a high-pitched voice when reading out quotations from females. Equally annoying was that he put on a northern English accent when quoting northerners. They only time that I’ve seen this done outside of fiction is by my Year 7 drama group – I tell them that it’s silly, and I’d say the same to this narrator. It’s pointless, and as a northern female myself, I found it rather offensive.

Overall, this was a meticulously researched true crime story, which was narrated with interest and expression. An enjoyable listen which wasn’t reliant on any prior knowledge of Loewenstein or his life.

The image shows the cover of The Man Who Fell From The Sky by William Norris.

The Man Who Fell from the Sky will be published on 17th February 2022.

Thank you to NatGalley UK, CamCat Perspectives, and William Norris for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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