Wednesday, 30 January 2019
ALLEN ESKENS - THE SHADOWS WE HIDE (2018)
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