A special thank you to Edelweiss and Seventh Street Books for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Allen Eskens, a superb talent at building suspense— returns following The Guise of Another (2015) and The Life We Bury(2014) with his third strong novel, THE HEAVENS MAY FALL, (2016) featuring three characters from his previous bestselling books with a gripping murder case told from two perspectives.
The nice blend of legal drama, crime, mystery, and suspense with the twisty plot, will keep readers turning the pages! I love how he keeps his characters alive (they are not done 'not by a long shot').
Interview with the author
Summary of Characters
The Heavens May Fall, features co-protagonists, who were secondary characters in The Life We Bury. Max Rupert, the homicide detective from The Life We Bury, is investigating the death of Jennavieve Pruitt and is convinced that her husband, Ben, committed the murder. Ben is a friend and former protégé of Boady Sanden, the law professor from The Life We Bury. Boady comes out of retirement to defend Ben and is convinced that his friend is innocent.
If you will recall from the previous books, Boady and Max are friends in The Life We Bury and this case test that friendship to the limits. Also, each man has a personal demon to confront as the case builds. Ben is in the middle of these two former friends. With the case leading to trial, we hear from Max's POV- convincing us Ben is 'guilty'. Boady's POV, Ben is 'innocent." You have to read to find out which one is correct.
Minneapolis homicide Detective Max Rupert and his defense attorney, Boady Sanden are no longer friends. Max wanted Boady to know that lines had been crossed and it would forever sever the connection they once shared.
He didn’t need notes to take him back to that morning. He remembered it all too well. It was a broken morning, torn apart by the memories that visited him every year on the anniversary of his wife’s death. He had promised he would protect her and never let anything happen to her. They were going to grow old together.
It has been four years to the day since he broke that promise. As the months turned to years, he found a way to live with the sadness and grief, but he never learned to live with the guilt. Her death had gone unsolved. Not his case. He was the husband and the husband can’t be involved in the investigation. He was locked out and the hit-and-run-driver got away.
Presently Max has a new case on the anniversary of his wife’s death. A woman, an alley. He was quickly reminded of his Jenni. The woman wore a pair of earrings with diamonds. After tracking down the buyer of the earrings, it pointed to criminal defense attorney, Benjamin Lee Pruitt. She was found naked and dead in a bookstore parking lot. A socialite. Philanthropist. Daughter of Emerson Adler. She runs a number of foundations, but her main focus was a wetlands preservation group. Ben’s wife.
Max Rupert is convinced that Jennavieve Pruitt was murdered by her husband Ben. They also have a daughter Emma, ten years old. Whoever killed Mrs. Puritt had used Emma’s bedspread to haul her out of the house. Is he on the run with his daughter? Was she surprised or did she know her attacker?
“He may never be able to bring his own wife’s killer to justice, but this man squandered a gift. He killed his wife, a woman who loved and trusted him. Pruitt threw away that which Max would kill to have back.“
If he could bring Jennavieve Pruitt the justice denied to his own wife, she might help him find some small measure of peace. He knew this bordered on fantasy, maybe even crazy,but deep inside he hoped it to be true.
Ben turns to Boady to represent him even though he is no longer an acting attorney, but has kept his license. Ben thinks Max is coming after him and he knows no one is better than his friend to have on his side; Digging the truth out of a mess of lies. Ben knows if Rupert doesn’t find the real killer, he will come after him.
Boady is not sure his wife, will approve of his involvement. He was his former law partner and he was Emma’s godfather. She will be worried due to the Quinto case, that nearly killed her husband.
Professor Boady Sanden thinks that Ben, now his client, is innocent. Ben was in Chicago at an NACDL convention (National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers), on white collar crime, and was unaware of the whereabouts of his wife and daughter. Boady did not believe Ben would ever hurt his wife.
Max as the lead investigator, combined with the anniversary of Jenni Rupert’s death- things start unfolding and become intense quickly. Max and Boady are on opposite sides. Add Jennavieve’s sister, Anna Adler-King in the mix, who has her own motive for murder and for getting Ben, her brother-in-law charged with the crime.
A prenuptial agreement. Death over divorce? The family business. What else? Motive? Hang on . . . there is much more. (A good book does not give up all its secrets at once).
Boady is caught in the middle between his friendship with both Ben and Max. Boady had taught Ben about the game of chess. Boady had been one of the best at playing that game as relates to moves by the prosecution and tuning out distractions.
We also catch up with Lila Nash we met in the first book—Boady had been working with Lila’s boyfriend, Joe Talbert,when trying to exonerate a man who they believed had been wrongfully convicted on one of Lockwood’s murders. If it had not been for Max Rupert, both Lila and Joe would have been killed that night.
Lila went back to school and Boady returned to his world of academia. That was three years ago and she chose a law career. She is astounded the connection of Ben to both Boady and Max. Lila, of course, owes Max a great debt, but she agrees to help Boady.
For the second half of the book, we turn to Max, when he receives a mystery letter about his wife’s death. She was murdered and someone has proof. Can the case be reopened? Could it be a prank? The other investigator was retired and the file was closed as a hit-and-run. He was not allowed to touch the file and Parnell’s replacement didn’t have Jenni’s case on his list. He is on high alert, thinking of discovering the identity of the killer.
Emma’s dad is on trial for murder. A note. Max’s wife was murdered. The motive involved Max and his job as a cop? Max is distracted with the new happenings in his wife’s case; however, now he has to pull double time—Did Pruitt have time to drive back from Chicago the night his wife was murdered? Rupert’s brother Alexander was gone as well as his wife.
The action and drama heat up in Part 3 as we head to trial and get to catch up with Boady, Lila, and Max,as the suspense continues with Anna and Ben. Who stands to gain more with Jennavieve out of the way? Is Boady blinded by his past with Ben? Is he really a monster, murderer, a sociopath?
A plan B. Will these two old friends, join forces by the end of the book?
Esken fans will devour the legal drama, and the complex multi-layered mystery suspense; Combined with the cold case of Max’s wife adds intensity as the events unfold racing to the explosive ending. With numerous twists and turns, Eskens knows his way around the courtroom (criminal defense attorney for twenty years), a pro at keeping readers guessing.
Character-driven, with a twisty plot - strong dynamics between Max and Boady, both struggling with demons from their past, and trickling over to the present. A test of loyalties and friendships. An ideal choice for book clubs and further discussions.
The last 25% percent of the novel, will keep you turning into the wee hours of the morning, for a satisfying conclusion with the crafty reveal. Fans of the author and readers of the previous two books will enjoy revisiting the characters, combined with the author's legal expertise, making his third installment another bestseller hit!
I enjoyed reading all three books, each unique and impressive. Recommend reading them all. Looking forward to seeing what’s coming next! (yeah, a revenge story, Max, and more . . .)
Quote from the Author: " Next, I am writing a revenge story that is all about Max Rupert. I’m having a lot of fun with that idea right now. After that, I want to write the sequel toThe Life We Bury and then, hopefully, a novel that will be the backstory of Boady Sanden. As you can see, I have a very over-active imagination—now if I could just learn to type faster. " Read More
The Guise of Another (2015)
The Life We Bury (2014)