By Allen Eskens
Narrator: Jonathan Yen
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Publication Date: 10/6/2015
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
Who was James Putnam? Answering that question may mean salvation for Alexander Rupert, a Minnesota detective whose life is in a serious downward spiral. A Medal of Valor winner, Alexander is now under subpoena by a grand jury on suspicion of corruption. He’s been reassigned to the Frauds Unit, where he is shunned by his fellow detectives, and he fears his status-seeking wife may be having an affair. When he happens across a complex case of identity theft, Alexander sees an opportunity to rehabilitate his tattered reputation. But the case explodes into far more than he could have expected, putting him in the path of trained assassin Drago Basta, a veteran of the Balkan wars who has been searching for “James Putnam” for years. As his life spins out of control, Alexander’s last hope may be his older brother, Max, a fellow police detective who steps in to try to save his brother from the carnage his investigation has let loose.
False Identities. Lies. Greed.
Allen Eskens returns following sensational award-winning mystery debut, The Life We Bury, with strong heart-pounding thriller, THE GUISE OF ANOTHER – A complex game of cat- and- mouse between a cop and a ruthless assassin. A twisted page-turner, multi-layered with metaphors and hidden meanings, what is real and what is true? Fraud. Guilt. Blackmail. Betrayal. Redemption. Nothing is as it appears.
Two distinct differences between Eskens first and second book. As noted by the author in a recent interview: “The Life We Bury is more character driven and has a stronger emphasis on literary writing. THE GUISE OF ANOTHER is more reliant on thriller elements and plot.”
Summary: Alexander and Max, both detectives with the Minneapolis Police Department. Alex, the younger brother, is a Fraud detective whose life is in a downward spiral. Alexander comes across an identity theft case that he believes will rehabilitate his tattered reputation and dives into the case with all he has. The case explodes into far more than he expected and Alexander's older brother Max Rupert (the homicide detective from The Life We Bury) steps in to try and save his brother from the carnage let loose by that investigation.
Hook from the Beginning: As the book starts off, there is a steamy affair with some hot sexy action in a Lexus. Unfortunately, not a good way to be caught dead in a compromising situation (with your pants down).
James Putnam is killed when a Lexus slams head-on into his Porsche. (this has action written all over it—cars, sex, money, thrills). The accidental death of James Putnam ignites a dangerous chain of events involving corporate corruption, murder, blackmail and the race against time-- for an incriminating flash drive, by a dangerous serial killer.
Question: Who in the heck is the real James E. Putnam? A last departing message, from the dying man, “Find it, before they find her.” Even more intriguing, the man who died is not the real Putnam. Who is this imposter, and what happened to the real Putnam? What is his story?
Detective Alexander Rupert: Next we meet complex and troubled, Detective Alexander Rupert, recently demoted from Narcotics to the Fraud Squad, while awaiting a federal investigation. Forgery and Frauds Unit from the scandal-ridden Joint Drug Enforcement Task Force. A wrecked career. A fall from grace.
He is determined to make a comeback to prove his worth. They think he is a bad cop—stealing drug money. Corruption and Scandal. Is he innocent or guilty? Could a new case return his respect and creditability? Was he tempted? Did he give in? Greed? A grand jury. Will he be able to restore his reputation; his family, his career?
Connection: As Alexander becomes immersed in the case, he connects it to a 15-year-old event involving blackmail and murder aboard a corporate yacht, sending the Minneapolis cop searching for answers--- down a dangerous path. Drago Basta, a powerful assassin working with giant defense contractor Patrio International, is intricately involved with the yacht explosion, and he emerges from the shadows to follow the detective’s every move.
Back Story: There is also an interesting back story with his older brother, a senior detective Max Rupert ---who calls his younger brother Festus-(Gunsmokes' Marshal Matt Dillon's second official deputy). He has always had to live in his brother’s shadow. He is not even sure his own older brother believes him. He has been drowning over the last three months. The more Max tries to help, the more Alex pulled away. Two Rupert brothers. Which brother will catch the big fish? What about the relationship between Alex and his wife’s infidelity? Since the fall, their relationship is also stressed.
The Hunt: With a skillful clever parallel story, Alexander wants desperately to solve the case. James Putnam is a fraud. A stolen identity. How can he uncover the truth before the grand jury trial? Where and why did the imposter kill the original Putnam? Why would he steal another man’s identity? A video, a yacht, blackmail, a flash drive, a sociopath, a sexy femme fatale girlfriend tempting him, a safe deposit box, annual deposits to a bank account, desperation, former roommates, Bible names. Good versus evil. Clues. When the lines are blurred. A devil in disguise. Temptation. Choices. Some are deadly. Rupert is obsessed with the case, Putnam’s life, his past, and his live-in girlfriend. Dark and twisted, with surprises around every corner, having you second guessing everyone.
Inside the Novel: While Eskens keeps you in suspense, he also delves into the relationships of the brothers with some human dynamics of loyalty, greed, and temptation. A brilliant title, fitting for the lurking dark mood of uncertainty. (loved the front cover) for both book and audio. From the dead man, the brothers, the killers, the marriage, the girlfriend, the betrayal…..two faces.
My thoughts: Wow, talking about jumping back into the fire! Rupert has enough problems before stumbling across the case, which will lead him into a dangerous downward spiral with an evil assassin on his trail, also after deadly information. Intense, suspenseful, and fast-paced. Without giving away too much, readers will uncover some strong brotherly love and bonds here— the lengths they will go to protect those they love. Can a reputation be salvaged in the end?
Eskens has proven he can play with the big boys with two outstanding novels under his belt– (Seeing another Dean Koontz), with his literary flair; appealing to a wide audience. Lots of action, plot twists – an intricately woven mystery.
The only element, I would add, which would have bumped the novel to a 5 Star – More sarcastic humor and wit; to balance the heavy complexity of the novel. (Guess I have been reading Paul Cleave and Karin Slaughter, too long). These two take cynical and wit to the limit. However, overall a well-written highly creative compelling thriller--highly recommend. Most definitely entertaining! Hard to believe this is only his second novel.
Audio: I listened to the audiobook, and Jonathan Yen, also from Minnesota (now New York) delivered a suspenseful cautionary cat and mouse performance with a wide range of voices—and an intense cast of characters! To further enhance your overall experience, highly recommend the audio version. Was so glued to my iPod, each time I was interrupted; quickly rewinding--you do not want to miss a thing.
Can’t wait to see what talented Eskens delivers next. (hopefully more from Max—looks like, we will get our wish) The author’s background as an attorney in criminal defense and former prosecutor, offers insights, investigative techniques, and tactics, reflective throughout the pages of his novels, with well-developed plots and rich characters.
Upcoming: Tidbits The Big Thrill Interview with Eskens:
Joe Talbert was your immensely enjoyable protagonist in The Life We Bury. Will we see him again in the future? What about Max Rupert from THE GUISE OF ANOTHER?
“I have three novels planned for Max Rupert (two after THE GUISE OF ANOTHER). After that I will come back to Joe Talbert and a sequel for The Life We Bury. There are ghosts in The Life We Bury that will be raised (figuratively) in the sequel. I like the idea of moving through a community of characters who know one another. The book I am currently writing has Max Rupert, the investigator from The Life We Bury, investigating a case in which Boady Sanden, the attorney from The Life We Bury is defending the suspect.
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About the Author
Allen Eskens grew up in the wooded hills of Missouri and, after high school, migrated north to pursue his education. He acquired a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Minnesota, and a Juris Doctorate from Hamline University School of Law. He honed his creative writing skills in the M.F.A. program at Minnesota State University and took numerous classes at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis.
The Life We Bury
By: Allen Eskens Narrator: Zach Villa ASIN: B00Z96QRFM Publisher: Tantor Audio Publication Date: 6/9/2015 Format: Audio My Rating: 5 Stars +