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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Saving Emma

Boady Sanden #2

Narrators: Gary Tiedemann, Matt Godfrey, Saskia Maarleveld, Janina Edwards,

Timothy Pabon

ISBN: 978-0316566353

Publisher: Mulholland Books

Publication Date: 09/19/2023

Format: Other

My Rating: 5 Stars +

A lawyer's race to reveal a wrongful conviction collides with the dark shadow of a murder in his own home in this propulsive and perfectly-plotted new thriller from award-winning writer Allen Eskens.

When Boady Sanden first receives the case of Elijah Matthews, he’s certain there’s not much he can do. Elijah, who believes himself to be a prophet, has been locked up in a psychiatric hospital for the past four years, convicted of brutally murdering the pastor of a megachurch. But as a law professor working for the Innocence Project, Boady agrees to look into Elijah’s file. When he does, he is alarmed to find threads that lead back to the death of his colleague and friend, Ben Pruitt, a man shot to death four years earlier in Boady’s own home.

Ben’s daughter, Emma, has lived with Boady and Boady’s wife Dee ever since that awful night. Now fourteen years old, Emma has been growing distant, and soon makes a fateful choice that takes her far from the safety of her godparents. Desperate to bring her home, and to free an innocent man, Boady must do all he can to investigate Elijah’s case while fighting to save the family he has deeply come to love.

Written with energy, propulsion, and his characteristic pathos and insight, Eskens delivers another pitch-perfect legal thriller that reveals a twisted murder and explores faith, love, family, and redemption along the way.

My Review

Bestselling author Allen Eskens (favorite author) returns following Forsaken Country (2022) with his Boady Sanden series. Nothing More Dangerous (Boady Sanden, #1) with SAVING EMMA (Boady Sanden #2)—Brilliantly told, a lawyer's race against time to overturn a wrongful conviction and a past personal tragedy that comes front and center in this stellar standout crime thriller.

Boady Sanden has appeared in the following books (links at the end)

~The Life We Bury

~The Heavens May Fall

~Nothing More Dangerous (main character-childhood)

I highly recommend reading this one. Check out my #AuthorElevatorSeries Q&A with Allen.

~Saving Emma (main character)

Boady Sanden is married to Dee, a (black) teacher. They have an excellent relationship. Boady and Dee are raising their goddaughter, Emma. Boady closed his law office, works part-time as a law professor, and volunteers his legal services at the Innocence Project.

Boady agrees to look into the case when Elijah's sister asks for help. When doing so, there is a connection to the death of Ben Pruitt.

Elijah Matthews claims to be a prophet. He has been locked away in a psychiatric hospital for four years. He was convicted of brutally murdering the pastor of a megachurch.

Boady is frustrated when he interviews Elijah, speaking in biblical verses, riddles, and clues. He does not want the man to have to go through having his memory wiped out like an old friend, which haunts Boady. He needs proof and begins his investigation. The accused appears to have prophetic gifts and adds drama to the narrative.

In the meantime, on the home front, the past collides with the present: the death of a colleague and friend, Ben Pruitt. He was shot and killed in the home where Boady lives with his wife and Emma.

You can go back to the previous books for more on Ben/Boady relationship:

The Heavens May Fall features co-protagonists 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. He comes out of retirement to defend Ben and is convinced that his friend is innocent at one time. The daughter Emma was ten years old at the time.

In SAVING EMMA, Ben's daughter has lived with Boady and his wife, Dee, since that horrible night. (Godparents). She is now 14 years old and seems distant. Her aunt Anna tries to interfere and misleads her away from her home. Why is she trying to get custody now? What is her motive? Is Emma or her inheritance fueling her sudden desire for custody?

Boady and Dee (love her) are desperate to bring Emma home and free an innocent man caught between personal and work. He must fight for his family and fight for a man with Biblical clues.

How are the two storylines connected?

Elijah speaks in riddles and bible quotes, convinced that a higher power will determine all. Elijah's unjust conviction is fascinating as the author explores the dark side of the megachurch.

The plot thickens when Elijah's care team has scheduled a Jarvis hearing to get approval for electroconvulsive therapy in 10 days. This pressures Boady to find the killer and evidence before this occurs.

Then there is the custody hearing for Emma's guardianship, and Boady's life and Elijah's are on the line. He must save Emma and his client.


I LOVED SAVING EMMA! Eskens is a master storyteller and a pro at building suspense—a perfect balance between personal and business with well-developed characters you are invested in and care for.

A long-time avid fan of Eskens, I have read every book and highly recommend them. As always, crime fiction is at its finest! A favorite author, it is hard to compare him to anyone with his unique signature style; however, if you enjoy John Grisham, John Lescroat, John Hart, Ron Rash, and William Kent Krueger, you will devour Allen Esken's books.

Masterfully plotted, SAVING EMMA is another Top Books of the Year with a mix of legal, crime, literary, murder, family drama, and psychological/domestic suspense while exploring faith, love, family, and redemption. I enjoy how Allen brings his characters from past books to the present. I cannot wait for his next book!

AUDIOBOOK: I purchased the audiobook (Editor's Pick) narrated flawlessly by Gary Tiedemann, Matt Godfrey, Saskia Maarleveld, Janina Edwards, and Timothy Pabon for a superb and engaging performance for all voices. I highly recommend the audiobook! | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 5 Stars +

Pub Date: Sept 19, 2023

My Interviews with Allen

My AE Reviews:

These are all Must-Reads! Allen Eskens is tops if you love legal, crime thrillers, and literary fiction! Each can be read as a standalone, but why stop with one? You want to make sure you read them all—get to know each character - you will most likely see them again.


“Ambitious, absorbing, and deeply satisfying.”

―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Eskens brilliantly combines legal and personal drama in this stellar standalone mystery. . . . Eskens peppers the thorny, propulsive plot with superior turns of phrase and fully realized characters. Scott Turow fans will be enthralled.”

―Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Eskens practiced criminal law for twenty-five years, and it shows: his novels have a realism and accuracy derived from experience. A first-rate legal thriller.” ―Booklist

About the Author

Allen Eskens is the USA Today bestselling author of The Life We Bury, which has been published in twenty-six languages, and seven other novels, most recently Forsaken Country,The Stolen Hours, The Shadows We Hide, and Nothing More Dangerous. His books have won the Barry Award, the Rosebud Award, the Silver Falchion Award, and the Minnesota Book Award. Eskens is a former criminal defense attorney and lives with his wife, Joely, in greater Minnesota.







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