Wednesday, 30 January 2019

ALLEN ESKENS - THE SHADOWS WE HIDE (2018)


Synopsis/blurb...

The stunning new novel from the bestselling author of The Life We Bury.

A young reporter must come to terms with his past - and present - while investigating the murder of a man he believes could be his father.

Joe Talbert, Jr. has never once met his namesake. Now out of college, a cub reporter for the Associated Press in Minneapolis, he stumbles across a story describing the murder of a man named Joseph Talbert in a small town in southern Minnesota. 

Full of curiosity about whether this man might be his father, Joe is shocked to find that none of the town's residents have much to say about the dead man - other than that his death was long overdue. Joe discovers that the dead man was a loathsome lowlife who cheated his neighbors, threatened his daughter, and squandered his wife's inheritance after she, too, passed away - an inheritance that may now be Joe's. 

Mired in uncertainty and plagued by his own devastated relationship with his mother, who is seeking get back into her son's life, Joe must put together the missing pieces of his family history - before his quest for discovery threatens to put him in a grave of his own.

The Shadows We Hide reintroduces three of the characters encountered in Eskens' The Life We Bury - journalist Joe Talbert, his autistic brother Jeremy and Joe's girlfriend Lila.

An issue at work allows Joe Jr. the opportunity to investigate the death of a man with the same name as him. Joe tries to determine whether or not he was his father and if the 14 year old teenager found unconscious at the scene and now in a coma is his half-sister. It also gives him a bit of breathing space from the tensions in his relationship with Lila, after discovering that she has been in touch with his estranged mother. Joe last spoke to his alcohol and drugs addicted mother when he got her locked up at a guardianship hearing for his brother, a few years back.

Small town setting and the murder of an unpopular man, DNA tests, a teenage suspect on the loose, a devious uncle on the sniff for an inheritance, $3 million but might be 6, involvement in the investigation, good cop - bad cop, a hospital visit, a local lawyer, family history, Talbert Snr's dead wife and the rich dead father-in-law, a bar confidante, extra-marital nookie, a brawl or two, a missing brother, arson, a letter from home, an unwise kiss, more girlfriend friction, addiction and recovery, forgiveness and reconciliation, patrol car footage, a bit of head scratching and lo and behold a killer caught.

I have enjoyed reading this author's books in the past and this one was no exception. We have an interesting story with a kind of two-fold investigation - present day events and the murder of Joe's biological father - as he disappeared before Joe was born and even attempted to prevent his birth, you can't really regard him as a father in the true sense of the word - and as an off-shoot he learns more about his past and his mother and the events that helped shape her life and by definition the impact they had on him and his brother.

There's a few twists along the way, but nothing outlandish that has you shaking your head. Suspect A can't have done it, it looks like Suspect B. Hang on a minute B couldn't have because of X. Whoa it's C! All coherent, logical and perhaps if you've read the author before.... expected.

Enjoyable and a quick read. Eskens does get you turning the pages and invested in the outcome.

4 from 5

The Life We Bury and The Heavens May Fall  have been enjoyed before. I think his other two novels - The Guise of Another and The Deep Dark Descending languish on the TBR pile somewhere.

Read in January, 2018
Published - 2018
Page count - 292
Source - Net Galley courtesy of publisher Mulholland Books
Format - ePub read on laptop




13 comments:

  1. This sounds really interesting, Col. I like the small-town setting, and that mix of solving the mystery and the protagonist's history sounds intriguing. I generally prefer to read series in order, but it sounds as though t his can be read as a standalone? In any case, I think it's one where our tastes might overlap.

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    1. I definitely think Eskens is an author that we could both enjoy if you manage to cross paths with his work. The book works very well as a self-contained mystery and I'd maybe hesitate to label it a series book as such (perhaps I could have been clearer with my thoughts). Its a standalone mystery, but populated with characters that I had met before.

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  2. Col – I need to read this book and his others, too. Thanks.

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  3. I still have The Life We Bury -- unread -- on my shelves. It sounds like I need to get to it. I like the way the author's books are sort of related but not a series.

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    1. Tracy, definitely an author where our tastes collide.

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    1. Yep - if it was a shoot-out between this and the Perry, I'd steer you towards this one. Knowing you, I bet you could do both....

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  5. Tracing one's roots and coming to terms with the past sounds like an interesting sub-plot to the actual story, the murder of a man; as is the fact there seems to be no police or private detective investigating the crime.

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    1. I perhaps could have made myself clearer, Prashant. There is a police presence and police investigation, it's just that we see things from our main characters perspective. He digs on his own and in conjunction with the police.

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  6. I am like Tracy: I have The Life We Bury stashed away on my Kindle, obtained after reading your review of it. Will read that one first....

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    1. I think this could be an author where our tastes overlap.

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