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Book Review: The Life We Bury

My Rating: 3.5

I finished this book a couple of weeks ago and I feel like it has taken me that long to sort out my feelings about it. On one hand, I thoroughly enjoyed this suspenseful piece of work about a cold-blooded killer, and on the other hand, I felt it fell a little flat. Let me explain.

The Life We Bury is based in Minneapolis where a college student, Joe, is given an English assignment to interview a stranger. Given the fact that he doesn't have much family to speak of, or any that he wants to be associated with at least, it leaves him with no choice but to go to a nearby nursing home and hope the staff will have someone that can help him. They suggest Carl, a recently released murderer who has been sent to the nursing home to live out his final days before he dies of cancer.

The rest of the story entails Joe trying to find out Carl's life story and fit the pieces together of what could have possibly turned a Vietnam hero into a killer. Roadblocks are thrown in his way, however, as he has to deal with his alcoholic mother and the responsibility of taking care of his autistic brother.

I absolutely loved the characters that Eskens created and I felt connected to them, especially Joe's brother. The writing was rich and descriptive and I commiserated with Joe's frustrations and challenges as if I had experienced them myself. The author did an excellent job making characters we cared about and wanted to root for, and I enjoyed the backstory behind each one. The plot, however, didn't do much for me. No spoilers, but from the beginning I felt I could solve the mystery and the storylines were all pretty obvious that I was correct. This didn't ruin it for me but it didn't make me feel like I was reading a book in the suspense genre either.

Overall, this book was a great novel to read if you are looking for a story with a predictable plot but with spectacular characters. While I can't say that it was a huge mystery, there was some suspense involved along with amazing writing. I can't wait to read another book by Allen Eskens as I feel he has a long and successful writing career ahead of him.

-Busy Brunette


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