Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Shadows We Hide by Allen Eskins

First Sentence:  I'm lying on the hood of my car, my back reclined against my windshield, knees bent, fingers laced together on my stomach, my breathing relaxed to ease the throb of pain.
Joe Talbert Jr., a cub reporter, wrote a story about a Senator which went to press without confirmation, with the result that he has been suspended and may be fired. However, he has come across the story about the murder of a Joseph Talbert in southern Minnesota.  Could this be the father he never met?  Rather than someone to be admired, the dead man's death isn't mourned but was felt to be long overdue.  Responsible for his brother, contacted by his addict mother who claims to be recovering, with the encouragement of his girlfriend Lila, Joe is determined to learn about his family.  Someone is out to stop him.
A good, evocative opening is something to be savored, and this truly succeeds.  It engages both the senses and the emotions, as well as informs.  For those who read Elkins' previous book, "The Live We Bury," it is a true pleasure to have Joe, Lila, and Jeremy back again.  For those who haven't read it, Eskins provides all the background one needs, and more, to feel comfortable starting here.
Eskins effectively conveys Joe's feelings about finding information on the family he never knew.  One surprise after another keeps things interesting.  Joe's family, start to end, has issues that are monumental.  And just because someone is a relative doesn't mean they're a good person or can be trusted. 
Each of the main plot threads holds one's interest.  There are so many facets to the story.  Eskins skillfully makes elements of it very personal and emotional, while painful to read even if one hasn't experienced such things for oneself.  Joe's relationship to his autistic brother, Jeremy, is beautifully done with a portrayal of Jeremey which is neither condescending nor contrived. 
The structure of the book is interesting in that Part I is the first 261 pages of the 339 pages total.  Sadly, there are a couple unfortunate and unnecessary portents. 
"The Shadows We Hide" is a story of secrets, lies, and addictions; of the harm people can do to themselves and one another.  But in the end, it is a story of redemption and is very well done.

THE SHADOWS WE HIDE (Myst-Joe Talbert Jr.-Minnesota-Contemp) – VG+
      Eskins, Allen – 2nd in series
      Mulholland Books – Nov 2018

1 comment:

  1. It sounds as though there's a lot to like in this one, and I'm glad. Those stories where people end up looking into their own pasts can be compelling!