The Life We Bury

The Life We Bury

A Novel

Book - 2014
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College student Joe Talbert has the modest goal of completing a writing assignment for an English class. His task is to interview a stranger and write a brief biography of the person. With deadlines looming, Joe heads to a nearby nursing home to find a willing subject. There he meets Carl Iverson, and soon nothing in Joe's life is ever the same.

Iverson is a dying Vietnam veteran--and a convicted murderer. With only a few months to live, he has been medically paroled to a nursing home, after spending thirty years in prison for the crimes of rape and murder.

As Joe writes about Carl's life, especially Carl's valor in Vietnam, he cannot reconcile the heroism of the soldier with the despicable acts of the convict. Joe, along with his skeptical female neighbor, throws himself into uncovering the truth, but he is hamstrung in his efforts by having to deal with his dangerously dysfunctional mother, the guilt of leaving his autistic brother vulnerable, and a haunting childhood memory. 

Thread by thread, Joe unravels the tapestry of Carl's conviction. But as he and Lila dig deeper into the circumstances of the crime, the stakes grow higher. Will Joe discover the truth before it's too late to escape the fallout?
Publisher: Amherst, NY : Seventh Street Books, 2014.
ISBN: 9781616149987
Characteristics: 303 pages


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Jan 23, 2018

I enjoyed the characters and how they developed. A comfortable, easy read. Good suspense, although maybe a little unrealistic in parts, with a fairy tale ending.

Oct 11, 2017

A decent thriller with easy-to-understand prose. Fairly predictable, but I enjoyed the character development and the story as a whole.

Oct 09, 2017

An engrossing story of investigation -- of a 30 year old crime and of a developing relationship between an aging, dying convict and a young student who sets out to tell the old man's story. Well developed secondary characters and a briskly moving bit of suspense in the later pages. The book starts slowly and gains momentum as it goes.

Aug 28, 2017

Today my book club discussed this book; we all liked it, could hardly put it down. I grew up in Minnesota and, like the protagonist, went to the University of Minnesota. When I read in the book about the cold walk on the bridge across the Mississippi, I have cold memories. Weather is almost a character in the novel, as mentioned in the publisher's website, Yes, Minnesota has long, cold, brutal winters. It also has beautiful lakes and mild summers, not mentioned in this book.

The book has several fortunate, unrealistic episodes, but, after all, we like fiction to be kinder than life.

The author's website is interesting:

Take away thoughts: the Vietnam War was bad. Alcoholism is bad. Loving relationships are good. Education is good.

Aug 25, 2017

Joe Talbert is a deeply developed and likeable character struggling to get through college while the odds are stacked heavily against him. An English class assignment takes him to Carl, a murderer dying of cancer in a rest home, and as Joe becomes engrossed in the details of Carl's crime his dysfunctional alcoholic mother and autistic brother add tension that keeps this novel fast paced and engrossing. His growing relationship with a troubled fellow student and the convicted killer brings the story to a satisfying conclusion after delivering plenty of page-turning action. I highly recommend it.

Jul 05, 2017

main characters are likeable, story line fairly suspenseful but very predictable, fast read

Jun 28, 2017

Very interesting with lots of twists & turns

Jun 09, 2017

This is an excellent mystery / suspense novel. I really envy authors like Mr. Eskens who write skillfully but with such finesse, and the patience to choose just the right word or phrase.

Apr 20, 2017

Joe Talbert leaves his autistic brother in the unreliable hands of his alcoholic, dysfunctional mother as he struggles to make a new life for himself. He enrolls in college and works as bouncer to pay the tuition fees. When he arrives at the registrar's office, he finds all the decent English classes are full. With no other options, he signs up for a biography class that requires him to interview a complete stranger. He heads to a nearby nursing home and ends up interviewing Carl Iverson, a dying Vietnam veteran and convicted murderer. As Joe looks into this man's past, he uncovers disturbing truths about the case - and his own heart.

Mar 09, 2017

Definitely a page turner. Compelling storyline and well written for a debut novel. Looking forward to what he does next.

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