Review: The Shadows We Hide by Allen Eskens

Title: The Shadows We Hide by Allen Eskens
Publisher: Mullholland Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


In the highly-anticipated sequel to the national bestseller The Life We Bury, Joe Talbert returns to investigate the murder of the father he never knew, and to reckon with his own family’s past.

Joe Talbert, Jr. has never once met his namesake. Now out of college, a cub reporter for the Associated Press in Minneapolis, he stumbles across a story describing the murder of a man named Joseph Talbert in a small town in southern Minnesota.

Full of curiosity about whether this man might be his father, Joe is shocked to find that none of the town’s residents have much to say about the dead man-other than that his death was long overdue. Joe discovers that the dead man was a loathsome lowlife who cheated his neighbors, threatened his daughter, and squandered his wife’s inheritance after she, too, passed away–an inheritance that may now be Joe’s.

Mired in uncertainty and plagued by his own devastated relationship with his mother, who is seeking to get back into her son’s life, Joe must put together the missing pieces of his family history– before his quest for discovery threatens to put him in a grave of his own.


The Shadows We Hide by Allen Eskens is a truly captivating mystery that is suspenseful and compelling.  This  newest release is a sequel to The Life We Bury and while it can be read as a standalone, I HIGHLY  recommend all of Mr. Eskens‘ previous works.

Joe Talbert Jr. is settled into his job with the Associated Press and life with his girlfriend, Lila Nash, and his autistic younger brother, Jeremy.  But his career quickly takes a downward turn when he is notified he is being sued over his story about a politician. On the heels of this discovery, Joe also learns that his father, Joe “Toke” Talbert has recently died and the police suspect foul play. 

Although he never met his father, Joe is taken off guard by his need to find out more information about both his life and death. Lila is less than thrilled when he tells her of his plans to go to Buckley since she is studying for her upcoming bar exam.  Their relationship is further strained when Lila confesses she has been in contact with Joe’s abusive and addict mother, Kathy Nelson.  Needless to say, Joe is in desperate need of a distraction so he sets off for the rural town where many surprises await him.

Joe’s father was universally disliked by everyone in town so Joe is rather shocked to learn the sheriff’s department has already zeroed in on a suspect. But Sheriff J.T. Kimble wants to ensure he and his deputies, Jeb Lewis and Nathan Calder, thoroughly investigate anyone who might have reason to murder Toke. Joe is further astonished by the discovery he is on their suspect list but he complies with their requests.

After learning more about his father’s life in the years since he abandoned him and his mother, Joe decides to do a little digging around on his own. He finds the timing of Toke’s wife Jeannie’s death a little suspicious but the case appears to be open and shut. Joe is also caught up in the manipulations of another member of his family but this person has conned everyone into believing Joe is not to be trusted. 

After setting a plan in motion to flush out the Sheriff’s suspect, Joe gets his chance to hear his version of the events surrounding Toke’s murder. Sheriff Kimble remains convinced of his guilt but Joe continues to harbor serious reservations.  Unable to push aside his misgivings, Joe continues to investigate Toke’s death but will he find the answers he is searching for?

The Shadows We Hide is a riveting mystery with a colorful cast of characters and a perplexing murder to solve. Joe is a flawed yet sympathetic protagonist with a complicated family history. Although Lila remains on the periphery for much of the novel, she is the catalyst for Joe’s most important decisions. The investigation into Toke’s murder is interesting and Joe is instrumental into uncovering the truth about his deceased father’s death.  With some very stunning twists and jaw-dropping turns,  Allen Eskens brings this gripping novel to a very satisfying conclusion.

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