The Life We Bury Book Review

Book review by Dinh.

5 out of 5 stars

Read synopsis.


The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens has been on my To Be Read (TBR) list for ages. I have heard great praises awhile back about it in the bookish community and I am so happy to have finally read it!

I was expecting it to be good and it did exceed my expectations. This book blew my socks off! I love it so much.

Here’s what I loved:

Story Line

I really enjoyed the story line. Joe Talbert a college student has to write a biography of another person for his English class. He goes to Hillview Manor, a nursing, to see if he can interview one of its residence. Carl Iverson, a convicted rapist and murderer of 14 year old Crystal Hagen agrees to tell him his story. Carl has been in prison for the last 30 years but has been medically paroled to the nursing home because he is dying of pancreatic cancer and only have a few months to live.

Joe and his neighbor and collegse student Lila Nash work together in figuring out if Carl Iverson killed Crystal Hagen.

Author’s Style

Eskens does a great job in writing a crime mystery from start to finish.

The book just pulled me in right at the begining. I loved the pace of the book. It wasn’t slow or fast but just right!

I loved how the pace completely change at the end of the book. It got really interesting and went from mystery to thriller quickly! It was unexpected and I loved the surprise!

I liked the development of the main character Joe Talbert. There’s enough info to keep you interested in the plot but I got invested in the main character. Eskens doesn’t waste words so you get the idea of the character by what they do and say, and you piece it together that way.

The book had many themes which made me think about personal history and how we deal with adversity.

I liked how Eskens balance the murder mystery with real evidence from the court case. There were photos of the crime scence, coded diary from Crystal Hagen, and DNA from the finger nail.

I liked how this murder mystery is so plausible and real. The cold case murder became hot and active on the coded diary was figured out.

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I thought the main characters and supporting characters were done very well.

Joe was my favorite character. I wanted to root for him. He wanted to get out of his situation and leave Austin, Minneapolis. Joe goes to college and get away from his mother who is an acoholic, is bi-polar, and has an addiction to gambling. His situation was bleak but he was determined to get out. Working to save money for college and working still, to continue college.

Joe was a fantastic character. I liked how he doesn’t give up in face of adversity but fights for what he wants. He is persistent and doesn’t blame his situation. I admire the strong person he is.


I loved the ending. Not only was it fast paced, it was a happy one. I don’t always like an ending that is predictable, but this one worked because I was rooting for him. I loved that the main character got what he deserved and that everything worked out for him.

My Final Thoughts

I loved reading The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens and highly recommend fans for mystery/thrillers to check it out. This book has it all: a page turner with a great plot and great characters!

If you’re looking for a great summer read, pick it up here. Or listen to it for free with an Audible trial.

Belong to a book club? Check out The Life We Bury book club discussion questions!

2 thoughts on “The Life We Bury Book Review

  1. I agree with everything in your review! I loved this book. I got invested very early on and it kept my attention the whole way through to the end. I completely agree with how it changed from mystery to thriller and the transition was so well done! It reminded me a bit of Dark Matter how it just kept you engaged from start to finish. Good choice!

    1. Hi Kristine!
      I am glad you enjoyed as much as me 🙂
      It’s always great to get a book that hooks you right at the beginning and keep you going until the end.
      I am going to check out his other books. I’ll let you know how they are.

      Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

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