Wednesday, August 17, 2016

THE LIFE WE BURY by Allen Eskens

Joe Talbert is a struggling college student with an alcoholic mother and an autistic brother, Jeremy.  For a writing assignment, Joe interviews Carl Iverson, convicted years ago of murdering a teenage girl but now living out his last days in a nursing home with pancreatic cancer.  Of course, Carl claims to be innocent, but his story is corroborated by an old friend and fellow soldier in Vietnam, prompting Joe to delve into the crime.  Joe’s cute neighbor, Lila Nash, becomes involved in the decoding of the victim’s diary, and now we have a pair of amateur sleuths who don’t have a clue what they’re getting into.  Joe works part-time as a bouncer, so he at least has some pretty solid self-defense moves, and he can even go on the offense when there’s a damsel in distress.  Lila may have skeletons in her closet, but Joe especially feels that he can atone for a tragic mistake he made as a child by seeing that Carl is exonerated before he dies.  Carl also has his reasons for not participating more fully in his own defense at his trial.  I’m giving this novel 5 stars because I found it to be well-written and riveting, and it gallops along at breakneck speed.  It is not without its flaws, though.  Joe is conveniently lucky a few times too many, and why he trusts his alcoholic mother to look after his autistic brother is beyond my comprehension.  I get it that Joe’s education is important to him, but Jeremy would have been better off with almost anyone else.  The pacing of this novel is so fantastic that I chose to overlook the somewhat predictable plot and outcome.  My favorite scene is where Joe is recovering from hypothermia in a deserted hunting cabin and fashions an outfit from the curtains.  Scarlett O’Hara would be proud.

1 comment:

Esther said...

I saw you gave this 5 stars so I took a chance and got it for my Kindle to read during a train ride. I really enjoyed it. Compelling mystery, well-drawn characters.