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The Life We Bury

— feeling amazing
The Life We Bury - Allen Eskens, Zach Villa

By: Allen Eskens

Narrator: Zach Villa 
Publisher: Tantor Audio 
Publication Date:  6/9/2015 
Format:  Audio  
My Rating: 5 Stars + 
Allen Eskens delivers an absorbing literary crime thriller debut of justice and redemption. THE LIFE WE BURY, a title serving as a strong metaphor by the talented author—as the characters attempt to leave some part of themselves behind. They live under the false hope, that they can bury those parts of their lives and move on.

Some evils cannot be buried just as the melting of pure white snow, revealing the dark, dirty and ugliness underneath; Justice versus injustice. Good versus evil --Sins, dirty secrets slowly rise to the surface.

Main protagonist, Joe Talbert is an average college student. An ordinary Joe who finds himself in a difficult and ultimately an extraordinary situation. (Loved Joe! Readers will sympathize and root for this driven, well-developed likable character).

Growing up with an alcoholic mother and an autistic younger brother Jeremy, Joe was forced to hide excess money in a coffee can, from his mother— in order to leave home and pursue an education at the University of Minnesota. His alcoholic mother, unreliable--unable to provide proper care for his autistic brother, continues to throw out the guilt card, demanding of Joe’s money and his time. He has worked diligently, keeping up his grades, while working as a bouncer in a club. (these skills come in handy later on). He finally manages to escape this family home, with his savings, and currently attends college as the novel opens.

Throughout the book, the mom (you want to strangle her), never learns from her mistakes. From DWI, jail, excessive drinking, picking up bad men, gambling, to leaving her autistic son alone for days, or allowing bad men into their home to be put off by Jeremy. She of course wants the social security money, to maintain her bad habits. She continues to use guilt to manipulate Joe in order to come to her rescue, using what little money he has to bail her out of jail, blackmailing him by saying if she is in jail, he will have to take over sole responsibility of his brother’s care. He loves his brother and spends time with him; however, he also wants to remain in college in order to have money to care for him. So, he finds himself in a less than desirable situation, controlled by the evil mom.

In the meantime, Joe’s life is about to dramatically change in ways he cannot comprehend. He does not realize yet, he may turn out to be a hero; however, in order to solve an old mystery, he puts himself and those he loves in a dangerous situation.

Joe is writing a paper for school and as his subject for a biography, he chooses a man, Carl in a nursing home. Carl is no ordinary man. He has a complex past (even more so than appears, initially). He was convicted decades earlier of the murder and rape of a 14 year-old girl and recently has been released after a 30 year prison sentence to live out the rest of his days in a nursing home, with pancreatic cancer. Carl agrees to allow Joe to tell his painful story. Carl spent time in Vietnam, with medals of honor, and soon to learn, suffered unbearable tragedies and consequences which haunt him even today.

However, there is more to Carl’s story than the evil monster he is portrayed to be. As Joe becomes enthralled with Carl’s story, he is lead down a dangerous path. Was Carl set up? Was he really innocent all these years, and if so, who is the real murderer?

While digging into the events surrounding the rape, Joe comes across evidence which may point to Carl’s innocence. He meets the cute gal, Lila Nash living next door (with a past of her own), and the two begin diving into the unsolved complicated mystery of Carl’s past.

In the meantime, Joe’s crazy drunken mom dumps off Jeremy at Joe’s apartment and ultimately, Jeremy helps Lila and Joe crack a code in the dead girl’s diary. This could lead them to the real killer! When they take the information to the police, they are not as eager as Joe anticipated to open a closed case. He takes matters into his own hands, with an obsession to clear a man’s name, as a race against time, before he dies.

THE LIFE WE BURY, has the WOW factor stamp from the first page to the last—mesmerizing! Allen Eskens takes you on a journey of ordinary people whose lives connect, actions which cannot be buried in the deepest of the winter snow. There is much symbolism and metaphors here, with the snow, the harsh winter, the war, abuse, addiction, sex; good versus evil; thought-provoking. And oh, the twist with the purity and simplicity of Jeremy, the autism was a brilliant addition to the overall storyline.

Precision perfect pacing, my head is spinning as how this can be a debut? As I have mentioned previously, am a huge legal and crime fan. Appears all my favorite authors have been/or currently attorneys. This must be a prerequisite for a successful author; thus far--a high percentage!

Audiobook now available 6/9/2015! Some books are double the pleasure if you have a good narrator (which can make or break a book). For all you audio obsessed fans (like myself), this one is definitely worth the wait ----exceeding all my expectations! Don’t you love it when the author and the performer are in perfect sync? As in this case, a match made in crime- thriller heaven. Zach Villa, the narrator delivers a stellar performance combined with the author’s incredible plot planning, character development, perfect pacing, and matched with a rare talent and style.

Highly recommend, 5 Stars +! An author to you will want to follow. This is one you will not want to miss. Looking forward to reading Eskens' upcoming: The Guise of Another Coming Oct 6, 2015 (hope to land an ARC; not waiting this time-now that I know what is waiting).
Source: http://www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/#!The-Life-We-Bury/cmoa/5586dc170cf23681a5620996