Richly textured. Riveting. Raw. This mystery is entirely unpredictable.
True to its title, The Shadows We Hide, by Allen Eskens, is one book on the surface, another underneath.
What we see at first glance is an AP reporter, Joe Talbert, fighting with his girlfriend and in trouble at work. When his boss shares a news story about a small town murder, our reporter decides to go see if the body found in the barn was his ne'er-do-well father. Joe uses his investigative skills to dig into the killing, and stirs up a hornet’s nest of trouble. Small towns are rife with secrets and Buckley, Minnesota is no exception. Dangerous skeletons are the only thing Joe finds as he unravels the past, skating on thin ice, his life on the line.
As we read on, we start to see the shadows that lurk below the surface of the action. Dark currents, deadly mixtures of emotions and human weaknesses, swirl about Joe from the beginning, eventually pulling him under. He fights for air, to do the right thing, but the stakes are high. If he doesn’t give up his source for that article at work, he’ll lose his job. If he reopens contact with his formerly drug-addicted mother, will she, or another bad boyfriend, kill Joe’s autistic brother? If the dead man, a bona fide ass hated by the entire town, is his father, did the sour apple fall far from the tree? And when Joe gets caught in the flow, will it cost him the love of his life?
I’ve enjoyed Eskens’ work since his debut novel, The Life We Bury, introduced us to Joe Talbert. The author’s stories are unpredictable, gritty, well-crafted, and explore the human condition. Those are all rare qualities, hard to do well. And with this story, Eskens continues to excel.
If you want a multi-textured detective tale, full of surprises, definitely put this one on your Christmas list.
International award-winning thriller author.