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.

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

My first Agatha Christie novel.

The impossible could not have happened, therefore the impossible must be possible in spite of appearances.”

3/5 stars.
Paperback, 274 pages.
Read from April 10, 2017, to April 26, 2017.

I’ll admit, I always thought that Agatha Christie novels were meant for little old ladies and the biggest reason I picked up one of her novels is that there are 2 books of hers that consistently show up on some of the best to-read book lists.  Having learned a little bit about this interesting woman, I can see however, that she was a complete badass.

Did you know that he first husband was cheating on her and that when she found out she disappeared for 11 days? As a best-selling novelist her disappearance made a lot of waves and sparked a massive manhunt. The police obviously had to interrogate her husband, meaning he would have to spill the beans on his affair, making it so that he was the one who was disgraced, not her. Well, that is just speculation. No one really knows what happened as she showed up completely fine at a hotel after her 11 day stint with no clues to as to her disappearance.

Also, did you know that Agatha Christie has been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the best-selling novelist of all-time? The Bible and Shakespeare are the only other publications to out do her. Her works have sold over 2 billion copies and has been reportedly translated into 103 different languages.  Agatha Christie is the original in “who done it” stories and her legacy is a testament to her skill.

Hercule Poirot is a famous detective who is on a train for business. While he was expecting a quiet trip the train ends up being shockingly full with a mismatch of interesting characters. Unfortunately for all of the passengers and snow storm has stranded the train from reaching its destination. During the stall one of the passengers is murdered in their bed, a seemingly impossible feat if the passengers are being truthful. Hercule must solve the diabolical situation before the train moves and reaches its destination.

While admittedly I thought I had solved aspects of the mystery I could not have imagined the depth of the truth of the real crime. The ending was admirable and satisfying as well.
I did find this book intriguing but it was too methodical for my liking. Most of the story was a just a recounting of the passengers whereabouts during the murder and then how Hercule would use this information to move to the next step. As in it was literally, if A, then B, if B than C or if A and B than C etc.  However, the book did not put me off reading further books by Agatha and story was still a good mystery.

If you are a mystery buff and have not read this book yet make sure to throw it on your list. Agatha Christie inspired generations of mystery writers and this one is said to be one of her best. There is also a movie coming out soon starring a plethora of stars. Check out the trailer here.

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

This debut novel explores the story of the family leading up to the murders and the idea of whether or not Lizzie did indeed commit the murders.

He was still bleeding.” I yelled, “Someone’s killed Father.”

4/5 stars.
324 pages, ebook.
Read from April 7, 2017 to April 8, 2017.

Thanks to Netgalley for this ARC and for fueling my crime and murder intrigue!  I would like to point out that I technically finished this book in one sitting whilst on a 14-hour flight that crossed over between two different days. Yeah, high-fives for me!

Everyone knows the story, or at least the song: “Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father 41.” On August 4, 1892 in Fall River Massachusetts, Lizzie Borden was charged with murdering her father and step-mother with an axe. Lizzie was later acquitted of the murder, despite the majority of people believing she was guilty, because basically it was thought that women could not be capable of committing such a brutal act. Narrated from many perspectives, this debut novel explores the story of the family leading up to the murders and the idea of whether or not Lizzie did indeed commit the murders.

Toying with the idea that Lizzie was spoiled and functioning at a child-like capacity (it was easy to forget that she is actually a grown woman), the novel reflects on how her sister Emma has been trying to escape the family home and getaway from Lizzie since the passing of their mother. Their overbearing father, Andrew, always favoured Lizzie and did little to spare Emma any responsibilities after the passing of their mother, even though he has since married a plump woman named Abby.  The home was tense and unhappy. Even the maid, Bridget, is saving every spare coin she had to getaway from the argumentative and strange family.  However trouble is brewing on the horizon and someone has it in for Andrew Borden. With an intense climax and twisted ending, this book will not fail inquisitive minds.

Schmidt is the queen of acute and sensory descriptions. There are few books that can describe blood and vomit in such an uncanny way.  If you are at all squeamish, this book may be a bit unsettling for you but don’t let that stop you. I promise it is worth it. The book is intensely visual and the author has an immense talent in bringing her words alive.  The characters, especially Lizzie, are curious, disruptive, complicated and disturbing and the plot adds a new twist to an old story.

I expect to see a lot from this author in the future as this novel is a killer debut! Ha, see what I did there? Bad joke… yeah. Anyway! If you are at all interested in true-crime, historical-fiction, murder, or just curious characters with great visuals then add this book to your to-read list ASAP and pick up a copy this summer when it comes out in August.