Tuesday, February 21, 2017


Allen Eskens is dastardly. In The Heavens May Fall, he gives us two upstanding, likable, root-for-til-the-end characters--criminal law professor Boady Standen and his best friend, Detective Max Rupert--and puts them at odds. Boady and Max have played roles in Eskens' prior novels (The Life We Bury, The Guise of Another), but they take center stage in this dogfight over the murder of a wealthy foundation director, each bringing personal demons to the legal battle that threatens to end their relationship.

The victim's husband, Ben Pruitt, is Boady's former law partner, and Boady agrees to represent him despite having retired from practice following a devastating loss. Max and Ben also have a history, but it's far from warm and fuzzy. Boady is certain his friend is innocent; Max is burning to prove Ben's alibi is not as airtight as it seems. Though he's zeroed in on Ben as the killer, Max may be falling victim to tunnel vision and the emotions raised by the anniversary of his wife's death.

Two heroes working at cross-purposes on a high-profile case ingeniously ratchets the tension over where the chips will fall. One of these good men is wrong. The story is told from competing perspectives, with Boady and Max each working steadfastly toward what he believes is justice. Eskens keeps the pace brisk, the plotting tight. His criminal law acumen is evident in compelling courtroom scenes. The short chapters in this thrilling mystery will have readers just-one-more-ing well past bedtime.

A version of this review previously appeared in Shelf Awareness and is reprinted here with permission.

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About Malcolm Avenue Review

I was lucky enough to be born and raised in a nifty, oak-shaded ranch house on Malcolm Avenue, a wide-laned residential street with little through traffic, located amid the foothills of Northern California. It was on that street and in that house I learned most of my adolescent life lessons, and many grown-up ones to boot. Malcolm Avenue was "home" for more than thirty years.

It was on Malcolm Avenue, through and with my family and the other families that made up our neighborhood of characters, that I first learned about and gained an appreciation for the things I continue to love the most to this day: music, animals, photography, sports, television/movies and, of course, books.

I owe a debt of gratitude to that life on Malcolm Avenue. It gave me a sense of community and friendship, support and adventure. For better and worse, life on that street likely had the biggest impact on the person I've become. So this blog, and the things I write here, are all, at their base level, a little bit of a love letter to Malcolm Avenue.


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