Series: Max Rupert
By: Allen Eskens
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Publication Date: 09/20/2022
My Rating: 5 Stars +++ (ARC)
Three fathers collide far beyond the reach or safety of the law in this breathtaking new thriller from the bestselling and beloved author of The Stolen Hours and The Life We Bury.
Max Rupert has left his position as a Minneapolis homicide detective to live in solitude. Mourning the tragic death of his wife, he's also racked by guilt—he alone knows what happened to her killer. But then the former local sheriff, Lyle, arrives with a desperate plea: Lyle’s daughter Sandy and his six-year-old grandson Pip have disappeared. Lyle’s certain Sandy's ex-husband Reed is behind it, but the new sheriff is refusing to investigate.
When Max reluctantly looks into their disappearance, he too becomes convinced something has gone very wrong. But the closer Max and Lyle get to finding proof, the more slippery Reed becomes, until he makes a break for the vast Boundary Waters wilderness with vulnerable Pip in tow.
On the heels of the most dangerous kind of criminal—a desperate father—Max and Lyle race to find out what has happened to Sandy, and to bring Pip home alive.
About the Author
Author photo credit: A.T. Knight
Allen Eskens is the bestselling author of The Life We Bury, The Guise of Another, The Heavens May Fall, The Deep Dark Descending, The Shadows We Hide, Nothing More Dangerous, The Stolen Hours, and Forsaken Country. He is the recipient of the Barry Award, Minnesota Book Award, Rosebud Award (Left Coast Crime), and Silver Falchion Award and has been a finalist for the Edgar® Award, Thriller Award, and Anthony Award. His books have been translated into 26 languages.
Allen has a journalism degree from the University of Minnesota and a law degree from Hamline University. After law school, he studied creative writing in the M.F.A. program at Minnesota State University-Mankato, as well as the Loft Literary Center and the Iowa Summer Writer’s Festival. Allen grew up in the hills of central Missouri. He now lives with his wife, Joely, in greater Minnesota where he recently retired after practicing criminal law for 25 years.
Connect with Allen:
"Eskens provides an irresistible hook, a clever spin on a classic suspense plot, and a series of expertly escalating confrontations. . . . Guaranteed to keep your heart pounding till the end." ―Kirkus Reviews
"The best stories test our view of the moral universe, which is one of the many reasons I love the work of Allen Eskens. Forsaken Country is a shining example of what fine crime fiction offers—a tight plot, intriguing characters, and important ethical questions. In this tale of a kidnapped boy and the men who desperately seek to save him, Eskens offers no easy answers, but delivers a taut Northwoods thriller with a raging pace guaranteed to sweep you along from first page to last. This is one of our best crime writers at the top of his game.
—"William Kent Krueger, New York Times bestselling author of THIS TENDER LAND
“In Forsaken Country, Allen Eskens’ expert storytelling is on full display. Eerie and beautifully told, it had me mesmerized from the very first page. . . . The suspense never flags in this chilling and layered portrait of a man’s desperate search for a missing child and his own redemption. Heart-pounding and heartfelt, Forsaken Country should be at the top of your to-be-read list."
—Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author of The Weight of Silence and The Overnight Guest
“In Forsaken Country, Allen Eskens delivers in all the ways that matter. Story, character, suspense—I loved it all. This author deserves a round of applause, and this book a massive audience.” ―John Hart, New York Times bestselling author of The Unwilling
“Forsaken Country is a story of darkness, love, and redemption; a novel that will stay with you long after you mourn turning the last page. And it solidifies Allen Eskens as one of the finest literary crime writers working today.”
―Alex Finlay, author of The Night Shift
“Eskens weaves a gut-punching and deeply satisfying story. His characters are indelible. His protagonist becomes a familiar friend with an unflinching honesty about who he is and what his past means. Forsaken Country is not only a propulsive mystery with a lot of soul, but also an addictive chase into the untamed wilderness of the Boundary Waters and the Quetico-Superior country.”
―Diane Les Becquets, author of The Last Woman in the Forest
“Beautifully written and expertly crafted, Forsaken Country has everything we've come to love about an Allen Eskens novel--deeply developed characters, a smart plot, and plenty of suspense to keep the pages turning.”
―Charlie Donlea, USA Today bestselling author of Twenty Years Later
Max Rupert Books
Q&A Elevator Ride with
bestselling author Allen Eskens
Behind The Author
Standout Books. Elevator Talk.
INTRIGUING QUESTIONS. INQUIRING READERS WANT TO KNOW
Welcome to the Mid-September #AuthorElevatorSeries —where we go behind the scenes of the book and the author. We are super excited and honored to have back with us today one of my favorite authors, the award-winning and bestselling author, Allen Eskens, with his eighth novel, the highly anticipated Max Rupert follow-up, FORSAKEN COUNTRY. (one of my favorites) Our last interview with Allen was in 2019 with Nothing More Dangerous, which you can find here. Let’s dive in!
Q. Give us your BEST Elevator Pitch for FORSAKEN COUNTRY.
ALLEN: Forsaken Country is the continuation of the Max Rupert saga. He has given up his career as a homicide detective and has shut himself away in a cabin in the woods of northern Minnesota to await a reckoning. He hasn’t shaved or cut his hair in three and a half years as he tries to come to terms with a terrible deed he committed, but his hermitage is interrupted when a former sheriff comes to him to ask for help. The man’s daughter and grandson are missing. Max is reluctant to return to the world but agrees to help the man, forcing Max to come to terms with who he has become.
Q. Describe FORSAKEN COUNTRY in three words or less?
ALLEN: Woods, isolation, chase.
Q. INSPIRATION: The spark that ignited the novel? Where were you when the idea came to you?
ALLEN: After writing The Deep Dark Descending, I knew I had to come back to Max and see how he was doing after three years of sitting in the corner. One doesn’t need to read the former novel to enjoy the latter, as the nature of Max’s crime is laid out in the pages of Forsaken Country.
Q. SETTING: Tell us more about the book setting (s) and why you selected it.
ALLEN: I wanted to isolate Max from the world, so the story begins at a cabin in the woods of northern Minnesota. I wanted to push Max deeper into the woods, so I have the last third of the novel take place in the Boundary Water Canoe Area, a wilderness of over a million acres at the Canadian border.
Allen, you have mentioned previously your books are not a series, but rather “character arcs that revolve around a small community.” With your characters: Max Rupert, Broady Sanden, Joe Talbert, and Lila Nash. We first met Max in The Guise of Another, The Heavens May Fall, lastly The Deep Dark Descending, and the most recent, Forsaken Country.
Q. YOUR BOOKS: When you first introduced this dynamic character, Max Rupert, did you anticipate the continuation of the character, eight books later? And the million-dollar question, will he appear again in future books? We hope so!
ALLEN: When I first started writing Max’s saga, I thought it would be just the first three novels. But, like I said earlier, once I finished The Deep Dark Descending, I knew that I would return to Max to see how his journey had affected him. As to whether there will be another, I hope so, but right now I have other stories to tell.
Q. FATHERHOOD: Throughout the novel, there is an ongoing theme of fatherhood. We see examples of both good and bad fathers.
(Max) lost the opportunity as a father (unborn child); Lyle, father to (daughter, Sandy) and grandfather (Pip); Reed (former husband to Sandy) and horrible abusive father to (Pip), and lastly the relationship we learn about from Spud (the kidnapper), with his father. In the novel, we see a side to Spud that is warm and caring, as opposed to his dark murderous side when caring for Pip as he remembers his relationship with his own father. Can you share more about this?
ALLEN: Yes, the theme of fatherhood is very strong in this novel: what a father will do for their child, what makes a father good, and what makes one bad. In the end, blood is not necessarily the most important factor.
Q. RESEARCH: Any fascinating research for the novel, or anything you learned along the way?
ALLEN: I had never been to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) so as research, I hiked (with a couple friends) up the trail that the characters in my book took. I wanted to feel what it was like to march all day with a forty-pound pack on my back and see what the terrain was like. Being in the woods was a marvelous experience that I plan to repeat every year, although we’ll be going in by canoe from now on.
Q. CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT: What fantastic and complex characters! Your favorite character to write, and/or most challenging?
ALLEN: I loved returning to Max and walking in his shoes again. However, I believe that writing the scenes between him and Niki were my favorite. I’ve written about Niki in four novels now and felt that I got to peek deeper inside her character in this novel than in the others. And the ending . . .
Q. NIKI: We are thrilled you brought back Niki, Max’s former partner! Without any spoilers, of course, let me say I was delighted. Do you have plans to bring her back in future books? Again, fingers crossed.
ALLEN: I like Niki and have always wanted to write a story just for her, but again, she will have to wait as I write the stories that are, right now, screaming in my head to be written.
Q. ADAPTATION: For fun, do you have any cast of stars in mind for any of your leading roles in a movie or TV series?
ALLEN: I don’t have any particular actors in mind. Furthermore, I try to create a picture in the minds of my readers and if I put an actor’s image in there, it might conflict with what they see.
Q. WRITING: Do you have a favorite chapter or scene in the novel you enjoyed writing the most?
ALLEN: I think the last scene was my favorite to write, so readers will have to read the entire book to see why.
Q. How was writing your eighth book compared to your debut? Any tips for authors?
ALLEN: Writing is always a challenge, but the more one writes, the more he or she learns to trust their instincts. Ideas that I fretted about in the earlier novels no longer cause me heartburn. If I feel that a scene or chapter is not working, I trust my gut and set to fixing it. And with experience, those fixes come easier. I will often go back to the fundamentals and focus on the stakes my character has in the scene. What does he want and what is in his way. I do this for every chapter.
Q. UPCOMING: Can you share what you are currently working on or what is next in ten words or less (or more)?
ALLEN: My next novel is for my character Boady Sanden. He gets a case (as an attorney for the Innocence Project) that sends him inside a security hospital for the mentally ill. There he meets a man who believes himself to be a prophet and who was found to have murdered the pastor at a megachurch. It was a blast to write.
THANK YOU, ALLEN for spending time with us today!
Cannot wait for this next book—more Boady...Innocence Project, YES, I am in! Sounds so intriguing. Thanks for sharing. READ ON... Now for more about the author below!
Behind The Author
An Elevator Ride With Allen Eskens
Up Close and Personal
BIRTH STATE? or (Country)
FAVORITE THING ABOUT WHERE YOU RESIDE?
I live on a lake.
Both, but really dog.
I guess I can no longer say that writing is my hobby, but it’s still what I do for enjoyment.
FAVORITE TYPE OF MUSIC?
70’s rock (to a fault)
FAVORITE SONG OR ARTIST?
I once asked my buddies what would be the last song would they like to hear before they die. For me, it’s Christmas Time is Here (the instrumental version) from A Charlie Brown Christmas. That song takes me to my happy place.
FAVORITE HOLIDAY OR SEASON?
Christmas, of course.
FAVORITE READING FORMAT?
MOST MEMORABLE PLACE YOU HAVE TRAVELED TO?
IF YOU WERE GRANTED 3 MONTHS OF UNINTERRUPTED WRITING TIME—WHERE WOULD IT BE?
Scenic hunting lodge.
WHEN YOU RECEIVE A SPARK OF INSPIRATION FOR A BOOK:
I make a few quick notes. I like to let ideas percolate before I act upon them.
YOUR FAVORITE PLACE TO WRITE?
My recliner in my basement rec room.
DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE WRITING?
I prefer total quiet. I even wear headphones (not plugged into anything) to cut down on ambient sound. I want to be in my head as much as I can.
A FAVORITE CHARACTER FROM YOUR BOOK(s).
Boady Sanden is my alter ego, so I like him the best.
HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE YOU WRITTEN?
My eighth book is coming out this September. Number nine is at the publisher and ten in my head getting outlined as I type this.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
Reading other writers who write well.
INTROVERT OR EXTROVERT?
Introvert, but I can pretend to be an extrovert.
YOUR MOST PRODUCTIVE TIME OF THE DAY?
THE BEST THING ABOUT A PANDEMIC? (OR WORST)
With my events cancelled, I used the extra time to work out, losing 25 pounds and getting in the best shape I’ve been in in years—maybe ever.
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENT OF A BOOK?
7. The Ending
I believe that tension and emotion are the most important element of my stories. Everything on this list are tools I use to create tension and evoke emotion.
WHAT IS YOUR WRITING PROCESS LIKE?
I am a devout plotter.
PIE OR CAKE?
Working for my dad’s drywall company
COFFEE OR TEA?
PEN OR PENCIL?
GO TO A PARTY OR A QUIET EVENING AT HOME?
A quiet evening at home.
AT WHAT AGE DID YOU CONSIDER BECOMING A WRITER?
IF YOU COULD WRITE ANOTHER GENRE IN ADDITION TO THE CURRENT ONE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
FAVORITE TYPE OF WORKOUT?
IF YOU COULD HAVE A TV SERIES OR MOVIE ADAPTED BASED ON ONE OF YOUR BOOKS, WHICH ONE WOULD IT BE?
Series - I would love to create a series drawn from the three-book arc of Max Rupert’s character.
Movie – I would love to see Nothing More Dangerous in theaters.
Thank you, Allen!
Readers: Check out my glowing 5-star review below (Top Books of 2022) and the advance praise (above). Be sure and pick up a copy of FORSAKEN COUNTRY, and post your review on your favorite social media platform. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did. Be sure and check out THE STOLEN HOURS, now in paperback format.
CRIME FICTION AT ITS FINEST!
Bestselling author Allen Eskens returns following The Stolen Hours with his highly anticipated Max Rupert follow-up, FORSAKEN COUNTRY —Richly drawn, a powerful story of one man's ghosts of the past as he comes out of hiding seeking justice for a young boy. A road of darkness, love, and redemption.
We first met Max, the former homicide detective in The Guise of Another, The Heavens May Fall, The Deep Dark Descending, and the most recent, Forsaken Country.
Following, The Deep Dark Descending, we find Max living like a recluse in the woods in a rustic A-frame cabin in the mountains of Minnesota. With his hair grown out, and little interaction with the outside world except to go into Grand Rapids for supplies.
It has been three and half years since that hole in the ice on the frozen lake with Mikhail. Max has many ghosts floating around —his wife Jenni, his brother, and his unborn child.
Now 45- years old, he had shut himself away from the world to face his reckoning, willing to accept forgiveness or retribution in equal measure but had found neither. He came here to accept his punishment.
He had run into Lyle Voight earlier when he was buying supplies, a man he met five years earlier when he was sheriff of Itasca County, back when Max's brother Alexander passed away at the cabin. In the parking lot, he met the daughter and grandson Pip.
Later, he receives a call from Lyle, frantic and needs his help. Lyle says that his daughter Sandy and his six-year-old grandson, Pip, had been kidnapped and are missing. He suspects Reed, the ex-husband, and father, which is a former criminal.
The current Sheriff is unreliable and has a connection and past with Reed, therefore not taking it seriously. He needs Max's help.
At first, Max is hesitant but agrees to help. Lyle and Max get together and plan to try and stay one step ahead of Reed. Reed Harris also has a partner in crime, Spud. Max finds himself alive for the first time in years on the hunt and also has to hold back Lyle who is ready to kill Reed as he suspects his daughter is already dead. Lyle reminds Max a little of himself.
However, without a badge from Max or Lyle, it is challenging to get into doors and get the critical info they need to track down Pip before it is too late.
Max turns to Niki Vang, his former partner in Homicide. They have a complex history, as he mailed in his badge and left the department. Giving up his badge was the price he would pay for exacting his revenge.
Niki had tried to contact him, of course, but he ignored her efforts. She was better off without him. Now he has to beg her for help. She is not happy about this but, of course, offers her help.
In a race against time, Max and Lyle are desperate to track down Reed, Spud, and Pip before they go on the run. Once they enter the Boundary Waters wilderness, it is much more challenging to figure out which path they will take as they enter Canada.
Two men are on a mission to find a missing boy and two evil men who will stop at nothing to escape.
Heart-pounding and high adrenaline action to the satisfying conclusion. Heartfelt, a multi-layered intense, and suspenseful exploration of fatherhood, a desperate search for a missing child, and one man's redemption.
I loved this book! Beautiful metaphors and contrasts with characters relating to the wilderness, its beauty, and dangers. A blend of crime fiction, psychological suspense, thriller, and literary fiction.
One of my favorite authors, Classic Eskens, FORSAKEN COUNTRY is full of heart, superb characters, an intricate plot, and riveting suspense.
Having the fortunate opportunity of reading all of Allen's books, FORSAKEN COUNTRY is one of my favorites.
Character-driven, the author delves deep into fatherhood with Max, who missed the chance with the loss of his child, Lyle (father and grandfather), Reed, an abusive father, and Spud as he remembers his relationship with his father fondly. I enjoyed how Spud (a murderer) shows his softer caring side with the care of Pip, taking him under his wing.
Eskens showcases his fine storytelling qualities as we see a man struggling with moral ethics where often there are gray areas and not as simple as black and white.
I also LOVED catching up with Niki, and let me say the ending was perfect! Please, I hope we see more of Max and Niki!
Highly recommend! Eskens is at the top of his game. One of his best! For fans of authors John Hart, David Baldacci, and William Kent Krueger.
UPCOMING INTERVIEW: Stay tuned for my #AuthorElevatorSeries Interview with Allen as we go behind the scenes of the book and the author on Pub day (9/20) Sign up for my newsletter to have it delivered to your inbox.
@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks
My Rating: 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐++
Pub Date: Sept 20, 2022
THE HEAVENS MAY FALL TOP BOOKS OF 2017
“A riveting, hold-your-breath, frightening mystery. The Stolen Hours is a thoroughly captivating legal thriller.” ―Karin Slaughter, New York Times bestselling author of The Silent Wife
The Stolen Hours
Paperback August 30th
Lila Nash is on the verge of landing her dream job—working as a prosecutor under the Hennepin County Attorney—and has settled into a happy life with her boyfriend, Joe Talbert. But when a woman is pulled from the Mississippi River, barely alive, things in the office take a personal turn.
The police believe the woman’s assailant is local photographer Gavin Spencer, but the case quickly flounders as the evidence wears thin. It seems Gavin saw this investigation coming—and no one can imagine how carefully he has prepared.
The more determined Lila is to put Gavin behind bars, the more elusive justice becomes. Battling a vindictive new boss and haunted by the ghosts of her own unspeakable attack, which she’s kept a dark secret for eight long years, Lila knows the clock is ticking down. In a race against an evil mastermind, it will take everything Lila’s got to outsmart a killer—and to escape the dark hold of her own past. READ MORE
Nothing More Dangerous
Check out my prior #AuthorElevatorSeries Interview with Allen Eskens and his novel, NOTHING MORE DANGEROUS where we go "behind the book and the author."
Click Here for more Author Elevator Interviews