Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Deep Dark Descending by Allen Eskens

First Sentence:  I raise the ax handle for the third time and my arm disobeys me.
      
Detective Max Rupert had believed his wife’s death was an accident.  Learning she was murdered sets him on a course of vengeance.  The question is:  How far will he go?
      
What a powerful and effective opening.  Eskins use of language and imagery is poetic—“After Jenni’s death, those occasions, even the lesser ones, remained my connection to her.  I found her thread woven through almost every part of my existence, a tapestry once vibrant and alive now in danger of fading away.”
      
The plot jumps back and forth between close-set time periods so one must pay attention.  There is a temptation to take the book apart and reassemble it in a straight timeline.  It’s hard to say whether anything would be lost by so doing.  Either way, one admires Eskens’ ability to pack a serious story with a strong emotional punch in less than 250 pages, following the style of many early masters of crime fiction. 
      
Even so, one may not find it as satisfying as Eskins’ other books, but it does raise an important question as to whether personal revenge can be justified.  It’s hard not to be reminded of Mark 8:36: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” In this instance, what does Max gain?  One interesting item was the mention of when Michael Dukakis ran for president and was asked about the death penalty, and of Max’s late-wife Jenni’s position on the issue.
      
The Deep DarkDescending" is a powerful and emotional book, albeit not necessarily a comfortable one to read.  And that’s not a bad thing. Eskens is a writer one will want to follow.

THE DEEP DARK DESCENDING (Pol Proc-Det. Max Rupert-Minnesota-Contemp) – VG    
      Eskens, Allen - Standalone
      Seventh Street Books – Oct 2017


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