Book Review: The Life We Bury by Alan Eskens

Rating: 4 out of 5.

My friend Kim gifted me this book and she obviously knows my taste as I really enjoyed it.  While I’ve seen some online reference to this book being a thriller, I would consider this more of a mystery.  There are some twists but nothing truly shocking and the story is more about putting puzzle pieces together rather than surviving shocking twists and turns.  The pacing is solid but I would consider it a slow burn rather than the frantic sprint more common in thrillers.

The “detective” in this story is Joe Talbert, a college student who meets and interviews a convicted murderer in order to complete a writing assignment for English class.  Carl Iverson is a dying Vietnam veteran who was convicted of murdering the 14-year old daughter of a neighbour but right from the start, both the reader and Joe sense that something just doesn’t make sense about Carl’s conviction.

One of my favourite things in books is someone that isn’t part of a traditional police force solving a mystery…college students, journalists, professors…it must harken back to my childhood love of Nancy Drew mysteries.  The fact that Joe is a college student, reluctant mystery-solver and has an interesting backstory of his own is what I enjoyed most about The Life We Bury.

With help from his neighbour, Lila (first described in the book as having “…dark eyes, a pixie nose and a chilly penchant for being left alone”) and his autistic brother Jeremy, Joe works to solve the thirty-year old mystery.

Good mystery, great characters – worth reading!

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