The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens

Interviewing a convicted rapist and murderer? My school assignments were never this interesting…

“His dying declaration……that’s what he called it. It’s a statement that’s true because you don’t want to die with a lie on your lips.”

4/5 stars.
Read from September 9, 2017 to September 11, 2017.
ebook, 303 pages.

I don’t even remember how I came across this book, perhaps a Book Riot reading recommendation? I think that’s it. I just know that when I read the description that I just HAD to read it and eagerly put it on hold at the library. I waited and waited until my turn came round to borrow the book. I was not disappointed.

Joe grew up with a less than ideal childhood, with an absent father and an alcoholic mother, but Joe is determined to put himself through college and get away from it all as best as he can. However, his mother keeps dragging him back with her negligence to take care of his severely autistic brother. Joe has had to grow up too fast and is still playing the unwilling role of a parent in his family. He loves his brother and would do anything for him, even if it means sacrificing his own ambitions and dreams.  However, everything changes for Joe during one seemingly harmless school assignment.

Joe is going to interview and write about the life of Carl Iverson, a Vietnam war veteran and convicted rapist and murderer. Carl is living out the remaining days of his life outside of prison in a nursing home as he slowly dies of cancer. As Joe interviews Carl he starts to see that Carl is not what he seems and he begins to unravel a mystery that pushes him to uncover the truth.  Desperate to discover the truth before Carl dies, Joe realizes the risks of uncovering it and as the stakes get higher and higher, Joe comes to find that learning the truth always comes at a price.

“No matter how hard you try, there are some things you just can’t run away from.”

It is hard to know where to start with this book as it sinks its teeth into you from the first page. The plot starts with a solid piece of fiction and evolves into a full-fledged mystery-thriller with an action-packed ending I did not see coming.  There is even a touch of romance as Joe gets his roommate Lila involved in the case.  The main theme that plagues all the characters is guilt, each of them carrying their own silent burden until they come together and unearth each of their own truths.  The characters grab you and do not let go, even long after the book is finished. The authors writing style is concise and high readable, even if he did misspell Farrah Fawcett’s last name wrong that one time.  This typo did not bother me in the slightest which, for me, is a highly peculiar reaction to an editorial mistake. I was too involved in the story to give a damn.

This debut novel has won numerous awards and this book has been worthy of them all.  It also looks like there is a movie in development that has a potential release date set for some time in 2018 release. So get a copy of this book now before the movie poster editions of the novel are released!

Overall, I did not want to put this book down and it may well be a contender for one of the best books I have read in 2017. This book has a little something for everyone and I would recommend to just about any reader looking for a memorable story.