Nothing More Dangerous by Allen Eskens

Nothing More Dangerous by Allen Eskens

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Nothing More Dangerous is the first stand alone novel from Allen Eskens, one of my favorite authors out there right now!  This novel is off of his usual path of crime fiction but it did not disappoint.

Synopsis:

In a small Southern town where loyalty to family and to “your people” carries the weight of a sacred oath, defying those unspoken rules can be a deadly proposition.

After 15 years of growing up in the Ozark hills with his widowed mother, high-school freshman Boady Sanden is beyond ready to move on. He dreams of glass towers and cityscapes, driven by his desire to be anywhere other than Jessup, Missouri. The new kid at St. Ignatius High School, if he isn’t being pushed around, he is being completely ignored. Even his beloved woods, his playground as a child and his sanctuary as he grew older, seem to be closing in on him, suffocating him.

Then Thomas Elgin moves in across the road, and Boady’s life begins to twist and turn. Coming to know the Elgins – a black family settling into a community where notions of “us” and “them” carry the weight of history – forces Boady to rethink his understanding of the world he’s taken for granted. Secrets hidden in plain sight begin to unfold: the mother who wraps herself in the loss of her husband, the neighbor who carries the wounds of a mysterious past that he holds close, the quiet boss who is fighting his own hidden battle.

But the biggest secret of all is the disappearance of Lida Poe, the African-American woman who keeps the books at the local plastics factory. Word has it that Ms. Poe left town, along with a hundred thousand dollars of company money. Although Boady has never met the missing woman, he discovers that the threads of her life are woven into the deepest fabric of his world.

As the mystery of her fate plays out, Boady begins to see the stark lines of race and class that both bind and divide this small town – and he will be forced to choose sides.

My Review:

This book is really something special.  I have heard it being compared to the likes of To Kill A Mockingbird and I completely agree!  The racial tension was palpable and also really eye opening.  It’s a reminder that it’s not enough to just treat others with respect and kindness: you have to stand up when you see someone being wronged as well.

This wasn’t a fast, roaring mystery/thriller, but more of a slowly building tension that made the last third of the book fly by!  And the pace really matched the setting and characters of 1970’s  southern Missouri. It made it feel more realistic and heartfelt. The reader is able to really grow to love the characters and understand their choices. Part coming of age story, part mystery, part racial injustice story, Nothing More Dangerous is a book I highly recommend to just about anyone. 

The Shadows We Hide by Allen Eskens

The Shadows We Hide by Allen Eskens

3CE55903-EB40-47F1-B873-4EE7AF27B844Thank you to Mullholland Books for sending me a free copy of The Shadows We Hide in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis from Amazon:

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 to 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.

My Review:

If you follow my reviews at all, then you know that Allen Eskens is one of my favorite authors.  He writes crime fiction/suspense novels but he creates some of the most believable characters in theses genres. The pacing in all of Eskens’ novels is also very well done and last, Eskens is just a natural story teller:  Each of his novels has such great readability that the pages turn effortlessly and the reader is immersed in the story from page one.

In The Shadows We Hide, Eskens is back with his unique story telling, picking up a few years after where The Life We Bury ended.  It has been several years since I read The Life We Bury, so I was a little concerned that maybe I would have forgotten some of the story, but there was plenty of little reminder paragraphs here and there, especially in the beginning, to jog my memory which I really appreciated.

I quickly remembered how much I like Joe from the first book,  his character is vulnerable and very realistic. He’s a man who has not been handed anything in life but has chosen to do his best with what he has. He shows a little arrogance when things go his way, but turns around to show humility when he messes up. I love that this book continues with Joe’s story but adds a little more mystery to it.  I feel like Eskens could continue with Joe’s character and make theses books into a series if he wanted to.

The Shadows We Hide was another great novel from Allen Eskens, there were a ton of twists and turns at the end that I did not see coming which made for some great suspense.  And I enjoyed seeing more of Joe’s relationships with his autistic brother Jeremey, his girlfriend Lila and his mom. If you loved The Life We Bury, then you need to read this one.  And if you’ve never read anything by this author, you need to start! I give this one an easy 5 stars, and will be patiently awaiting another Max Rupert novel (at least I’m hoping to get one!).

The Deep Dark Descending by Allen Eskens

The Deep Dark Descending by Allen Eskens

A9892DF7-5B59-4A13-8452-9787365B7F52Thank you to Prometheus/Seventh Street Books for providing me with a free copy of The Deep Dark Descending in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Homicide Detective Max Rupert never fully accepted his wife’s death, even when he believed that a reckless hit-and-run driver was to blame. Haunted by memories both beautiful and painful, he is plagued by feelings of unfinished business. When Max learns that, in fact, Jenni was murdered, he must come to terms with this new information—and determine what to do with it.

Struggling to balance his impulses as a vengeful husband with his obligations as a law enforcement officer, Max devotes himself to relentlessly hunting down those responsible. For most of his life, he has thought of himself as a decent man. But now he’s so consumed with anguish and thoughts of retribution that he finds himself on the edge, questioning who he is and what he stands for.

On a frozen lake at the US–Canadian border, he wrestles with decisions that could change his life forever, as his rage threatens to turn him into the kind of person he has spent his entire career bringing to justice.

 

My Review:

Wow. Just: wow.  The Deep Dark Descending is hands down the best book from Eskens yet. This book is the fourth in a series, and it’s the kind of story that has been simmering in the background for a while now and is finally coming to a head. If you’ve read the other books in the series, then you know that Max never got over his wife’s death and was never satisfied with the investigation that ensued. In this novel, he has decided he’s had enough and starts investigating on his own, using his connections as a Detective to find out what he can. When he discovers that his wife’s death was not an accident, he cannot control his need for revenge.

The first chapter takes place ‘Up North’, and the reader knows that Max has found someone who he thinks is responsible for his wife’s murder.  We just don’t know yet what he plans to do with this person he’s tracked down nor who this person is. The alternating chapters tell the journey Max took to find clues, track leads, and finally reach the killer.

More ‘Up North’ chapters are throughout the book, as Max makes a plan with what he is going to do to the killer.  But in addition to that suspense, he is visited with memories and flashbacks from his life with Jeni as well as the woman who raised him as a child.  These memories give Max pause with his task at hand: what he will do, out in the middle of nowhere, with his wife’s murderer. This added so much emotion to Max’s character and the book.  Many crime fiction novels are devoid of much empathy or emotion which is a characteristic that I think sets Allen Eskens apart.

I find that the books I love best end up being the hardest reviews to write and I don’t know if I’ve come close to doing this one justice.  The novel is intense, emotional, suspenseful and hard to put down.  Allen Eksens is among my favorite authors, I highly encourage you to read his work, you won’t regret it! Five star read!

The Guise of Another by Allen Eskens

The Guise of Another by Allen Eskens

44019490-D11E-4031-873F-333216364679I read Allen Eskens first book, The Life We Bury, about a year ago and really liked it. I told myself “Hmm, I’m going to have to watch for this author”. Well, his latest came out in October and while I was looking into it, I saw that he has two other books that I totally missed. So much for looking out. Anyway, I asked around and the consensus was to read his books in order. So I bought the other books and got started on his second novel The Guise of Another and I’m so glad I did!

A Minnesota detective has fallen from grace after a scandal erupted in the last task force he organized. Now working in the fraud department, Alexander Rupert begins looking into a reported case of identity fraud with unusual circumstances. A man named James Putnam has died in a car accident. When Putnam’s only living relative is contacted, a brother in jail, it is confirmed that the man who died is not actually James Putnam. So who is the man who died, and where is the real James Putnam?

This novel was very well done crime fiction. With short chapters and suspense around every corner, it was hard to put down. Eskens develops his characters very smoothly so that you can really become vested in them but not too much time is spent rambling on back stories. This novel is definitely plot driven but with the feel of being character driven. In my opinion, that’s the best of both worlds. Well written and orgazinef, I thoroughly enjoyed this ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ star mystery!