It also means that this is our heaven. We are surrounded every day by the wonders of life, wonders beyond comprehension that we simply take for granted. I decided that day that I would live my life — not simply exist. If I died and discovered heaven on the other side that’d be just fine and dandy. But if I didn’t live my life as if I was already in heaven, and I died and found only nothingness, well… I would’ve wasted my life. I would have wasted my one chance in all of history to be alive.
The past few months have flown by with the speed and tumult of the tropical thunderstorm downpours we’ve been getting here lately. And fitting to the looming darkness, my reading list has been dense with mystery-thrillers. The thing I appreciate about thrillers is that it’s quite fast-paced, action-packed and (sometimes in a good way) mindnumbingly entertaining. But this one was slightly more intense and curious.
Joe Talbert, the protagonist in Allen Esken’s The Life We Bury, involuntarily becomes involved in reopening up an old, solved-and-tried murder case when he meets Carl Iverson, a convicted murderer who was medically paroled to a nursing home because he is dying of cancer. Carl had already served 30 years in prison for the rape and murder of a teenage girl in his small hometown. What begins as an English class writing assignment ends up becoming an unexpected relationship between Joe and Carl of secrets and truths. Of course, his neighbor and confidant Lila, along with the nursing home staffs, think he’s insane for giving a murderer a voice but Joe makes it his mission to unveil the truth – why Carl did what he did.
The deeper Joe digs into Carl’s past by interviewing the detectives, fellow Vietnam veterans, neighbors, and witnesses, he reaches closer to understanding why the horrendous events took place that day, but almost at the cost of his own life.
Esken’s character development is very personable and gripping. He helps the reader connect to the story intimately by portraying the familiar struggles of mercy and justice, and the ideals of morality. It’s certainly not a new idea, but Esken’s storytelling is what makes The Life We Bury so unique and resonating. It’s emotional, blunt, shocking, and suspenseful. I definitely recommend this page-turner. And apparently, it was one of the finalists of 2015 Edgar Awards!
dee’s recommendation: 4/5