Wednesday, July 27, 2016

61 Books: #34

The project: to read 61 books, of whatever sort—short, long; literature, schlock; prose, poetry: you name it—before December 4, 2016.

The first ten books can be seen here. The second ten are here. Nos. 21–33 are below this post.

34. Allen Eskens, The Life We Bury (2014) (7/26/16)
This is good genre fiction: a suspense thriller full of twists and turns, with a satisfying ending (if you don't mind things wrapped up with a bow). It's a first novel, which shows in the writing: perfectly competent, but not virtuosic, and the characters are occasionally flat and clichéd. They all have secrets of some sort or other— hence the title—which in turn drive the plot.

The story concerns a college student, Joe Talbert, who has been assigned to write a biography of an elderly stranger, and he figures a nursing home will be a good place to find such a person. He does: a man, Carl Iverson, convicted thirty years before of raping and killing a fourteen-year-old girl. Iverson has come to the nursing home from a life sentence in prison to die. He has only a few weeks left. He agrees to tell his story to Joe as his "dying declaration."

Joe becomes convinced that Iverson was wrongly convicted, partly because of heroic actions during the Vietnam War that belie his ability to commit the crime in question. Joe procures the case files and begins his own detective work, together with his neighbor across the hall (and love interest), Lila.

And so forth. There's plenty of action; lots of circumstantial evidence, leading to numerous detours and dead ends; various roadblocks appear; and the villain is a pretty bad dude, as it turns out.

But the guy gets his girl, he is able to overcome the adversity of an intolerable home situation with a sweet twist at the very end, and he manages to assuage some heavy guilt from his childhood —all while delivering good news to Iverson the very day before he dies.

It was a fine page turner, but now I'm ready for something a little meatier.

No comments:

Post a Comment