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.