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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Stolen Hours

ISBN: 0316703494

Publisher: Mulholland Books

Publication Date: 08/30/22

Format: Paperback Edition

My Rating: 5 STARS +++

From the bestselling author of The Life We Bury comes a "riveting, hold-your-breath" new mystery in which a woman finds herself in a race not only for justice—but for her life (Karin Slaughter, New York Times bestselling author of The Silent Wife).

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 Spenser, 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.


"A rousing legal thriller that’s also an acute study of female victimization and male privilege." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“The plot provides satisfying twists and poses thought-provoking questions about gender. Eskens reliably entertains.”

―Publishers Weekly

“Intense and satisfying.”


“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

“In Allen Eskens’ newest thriller The Stolen Hours, there’s not a moment misplaced or a second lost. With the precision of a watchmaker, Eskens assembles the fine parts of a mystery set to the tempo of a thriller, leaving the reader breathless.”

―Craig Johnson, New York Times bestselling author of the Longmire Mysteries

"The Stolen Hours is as good as it gets; a heart-pounding and utterly engaging thriller that had me turning the pages at warp speed. At the core of this magnificent and beautifully told story is Lila, a strong yet vulnerable woman in search of the truth. But Eskens cleverly lets her share the spotlight with two other women whose strengths and weaknesses play off of and enhance each other. Alone, each is a character that readers will identify with and root for. Together, they're unstoppable. I loved this book!"

―Karen Dionne, New York Times bestselling author of The Marsh King’s Daughter and The Wicked Sister

"A stunning small-town mystery."

―Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review, on Nothing More Dangerous

"The next best thing to Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird . . . A magnificent book and an uplifting one."

―New York Journal of Books, on Nothing More Dangerous

"Riveting . . . Eskens vividly renders how small towns try to keep their secrets, and how sometimes they cannot."

―Ron Rash, author of Serena, on The Shadows We Hide

My Review


Master storyteller Allen Eskens returns following (2019) NOTHING MORE DANGEROUS View my in-depth interview with Allen — with yet another captivating superb thriller —THE STOLEN HOURS. My favorite book of 2021!

Lila Nash, a favorite character from past books, takes center stage facing the evilest mastermind, as her past and present are connected in mysterious ways.

I am a massive fan of the author and never miss a book and was delighted when I learned we would hear more from Lila Nash, the law student and girlfriend of journalist Joe.

Lila Nash was a supporting character in novels 1, 3, and 5. In number 7, she is the protagonist and takes center stage as the heroine in THE STOLEN HOURS. We fell in love with Lila in Esken's debut and subsequent books.

It all starts at a wedding with a wedding photographer named Gavin. After reading this book, not sure I would ever trust a photographer again. WOW! This guy is mental and pure evil. A psychotic sociopath.

The author has outdone himself in creating this evil monster. Never cross him. Gavin has a speech impediment and a big chip on his shoulder. He loves to keep trophies of his conquests and prides himself in being able to outsmart everyone. Count yourself dead if you come in contact with him. Drugging is his favorite trick before raping and throwing you off a bridge.

He does not know someone may finally outsmart him after all the years of skirting the law.

The author takes us back to Lila’s nightmare when she was 18 yrs old, and one she has never fully recovered from. Rape, a vicious attack, suicide attempt, cutting, plus PTSD, and much more. But she was given a date rape drug which wiped out her memory and almost destroyed her life.

She has since worked her way through college and law school and finally a job as a prosecutor. She is living with her boyfriend (good guy), Joe (we met from previous books). He wants to get married but knows not to push and to wait on her lead.

A case crosses Lila's desk regarding a woman pulled from the Mississippi River, barely alive. Sadie Vauk. She is a hairdresser and encountered Gavin at the wedding. She escaped after being drugged and thrown into the river to drown.

The case holds echoes of what happened to Lila, and before long, the ghosts of her attack reemerge, threatening to destroy her. The detective also finds similar tactics in prior cases over the years and no one was ever convicted.

However, his other victims over the years never come out alive, and no one has ever suspected Gavin because he covers his tracks. On top of this case and the stress, Lila is not sure but thinks she has seen this guy before. If she could only remember. Now, this gal is collateral damage and Gavin is sure to come after her.

Lila is also experiencing problems with a nasty man, her new boss, and is in jeopardy of losing her job. Their relationship goes back to being on the opposing side years ago (past books). However, she gets transferred, and her mentor is kick-ass, tough, and truly amazing. He thinks this will deter her. She turns out to be a big fan of Lila. Loved the scenes with them together.

Meanwhile, Joe is on an assignment and called away.

We also get to catch up with detectives, Nikki and Matty. Fans will remember Nikki from past books. She is also a strong supporter of Lila. So now we have 3 strong women against a misogynistic boss and a serial killer. Lila finds strength she is unaware she had and maybe the thing to pull her out of her eight years of torture.

Now, let’s discuss this evil mastermind Eskens has created. BRILLIANT! Gavin is a true sociopath. OMG! He could give Caroline Kepnes’ character Joe, a run for his money. Never get on his bad side and his mother, what a combo. You will be glued to the pages and holding your breath for the grand finale which is outstanding.

THE STOLEN HOURS is utterly riveting and never a lull or slow moment. It is fast-paced, keenly observed, and full of heart-pounding twists and surprises. My jaw dropped numerous times.

A flawless execution, powerhouse Allen Eskens' writing is extraordinary. Plot and character-driven, he is at the top of his game. Just when you think he could not get any better, he pulls out another winner! I could not put this one down.

You will root for Lila from the first page to the last. Fans of Eskens' previous books will devour. Perfect for fans of Lisa Gardner, Karin Slaughter, John Lescroart, and Michael Robotham. Movie-worthy or TV series, please!

Thank you to NetGalley and Mulholland Books for an advanced reading copy. I also purchased the hardcover copy (which is stunning) and the audiobook narrated by MacLeod Andrews, Christine Lakin, and Tina Huang. Highly recommend!

I cannot wait to see what comes next!

My Reviews:

These are all Must-Reads! If you love legal, crime thrillers, and literary fiction - he is tops! Each can be read as a standalone but why stop with one? You do not want to miss a thing. Read them all!

My Blog Review:

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

Pub Date: 09/07/2021

My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

If I could - deserving of 10 stars!

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 on 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.

Allen is represented by Amy Cloughley of Kimberley Cameron and Associates Literary Agency.







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