Author : Allen Eskens
Title : The Life We Bury
Pages : 306
Publisher : Seventh Street Books
Publication date : October 14, 2014
College student Joe Talbert has the modest goal of completing a writing assignment for an English class. His task is to interview a stranger and write a brief biography of the person. With deadlines looming, Joe heads to a nearby nursing home to find a willing subject. There he meets Carl Iverson, and soon nothing in Joe’s life is ever the same.
Carl is a dying Vietnam veteran–and a convicted murderer. With only a few months to live, he has been medically paroled to a nursing home, after spending thirty years in prison for the crimes of rape and murder.
As Joe writes about Carl’s life, especially Carl’s valor in Vietnam, he cannot reconcile the heroism of the soldier with the despicable acts of the convict. Joe, along with his skeptical female neighbor, throws himself into uncovering the truth, but he is hamstrung in his efforts by having to deal with his dangerously dysfunctional mother, the guilt of leaving his autistic brother vulnerable, and a haunting childhood memory.
Thread by thread, Joe unravels the tapestry of Carl’s conviction. But as he and Lila dig deeper into the circumstances of the crime, the stakes grow higher. Will Joe discover the truth before it’s too late to escape the fallout?
To be fair, I’d never heard of Allen Eskens before. It wasn’t until one of my fellow book bloggers reviewed his latest book, “The Deep Dark Descending”, that he made it onto my radar. What a travesty that is because if The Life We Bury is anything to go by, I have been seriously missing out! And now that I’ve been introduced to his work, I’ll definitely be checking out his other work.
Joe Talbert is a college student who needs to write a biography for his English assignment. As he’s running out of time, he visits his nearby retirement village and meets Carl Iverson. Carl was in prison for the rape and murder of a fourteen year old girl back in 1980 but since he’s dying of cancer, he was released to the nursing home. When Joe gets to know Carl a little better, he finds it hard to reconcile this Vietnam war veteran with the horrifying murder he was sentenced for.
The Life We Bury is a multi-layered mystery with a fantastic puzzle that needs solving. Did Carl kill this young girl or not? If he didn’t, then who did? Together with his neighbour, Lila, Joe tries to unravel a mystery that dates back thirty years.
This story is full of suspense and incredibly compelling but it’s not just a thriller. It’s also an amazing character study, exploring the things we try to bury in order to live our lives. Events in Carl’s past might explain if he is or isn’t a murderer, just like events in Joe’s past compel him to find the truth and try to help a dying man. But Joe also struggles with an alcoholic mother who frequently abandons his autistic brother. Joe thought leaving for college and creating some distance would help, but he was wrong.
“No matter how hard you try, there are some things you can’t run away from.”
I adore the author’s descriptive writing and it had me gripped from start to finish. I was glued to the pages and utterly absorbed. This is an incredibly engrossing and compelling read and I highly recommend it! I can’t wait to read more by this author!
The Life We Bury was published in 2014.