The Life We Bury

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Life We Bury
By Allen Eskens 

Joey is a college student whose writing assignment leads him to the bedside of Carl, a dying convict. As he begins to unearth the murder mystery that put Carl behind bars, he gets more than he bargained for.

I like the mystery side of the novel, but so many of the characters were very two-dimensional to me. The Vietnam war vet, the jaded lawyer, the manic pixie girl who's too good for the boy who has a crush and is yearning for her, the alcoholic mother who is nothing but selfish and horrible, etc.

****SPOILER ALERT*********

I also had a few other major issues with the book. The one that bothered me the most is about Carl’s willingness to take the fall for a crime he didn’t commit and spend 30 years in jail. I’m supposed to believe that, and I get it, Vietnam broke him and he was ready to die. That’s not where my issue is. We are supposed to believe he was willing to go to jail for the rape and murder charge, but at the same time we're supposed to believe that he's so passionate about protecting a young girl from being raped that he's willing to commit murder (in Vietnam). Yet he doesn't realize that taking the fall for a crime he didn't commit means a murderer and raper of young girls is still out there on the loose for 30 years. That does not add up to me. He knew that the investigation would end, which meant the real killer would be from to kill and rape again. And that’s exactly what he did!

I also had an issue with the relationship between Joe and his neighbor Lila. Lila makes it very clear that she does not want to relationship, she does not want to be pursued. Joey basically sees that as a challenge and in one line he even says something about how the wall she put up just makes him want her more. That sounds like a stalker. I get that it all worked out in the end, but the relentless way that he continues to bother her, when she very clearly states no thank you, really bothered me. It's like it was sending a message that if you just love the girl enough then you deserve her. What she wants does not matter or even play into the equation.

The final major issue that I had was Joe's trip to go see Doug. He knows he's going to go visit a murderer. His entire reason for going is to try to get the murderer to confess. But he doesn't tell a single soul where he's going and then once he gets there he tells said murder that at some point in the future he will tell the police about all this. So he makes it clear that he hasn't told the police anything yet. That makes zero sense and I hate it when authors have their characters make incredibly stupid choices that put them in dangerous situations. I feel like no one in their right mind would make that choice in the real world.

BOTTOM LINE: I enjoyed the first half of the book. It went off the rails for me after that. I just felt like the characters kept doing things that contradicted their beliefs and so it took me completely out of the story.

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