Allen Eskens The Life We Bury

Last updated date: June 18, 2019

DWYM Score
8.2

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We looked at the top 1 Thriller Novels and dug through the reviews from 9 of the most popular review sites including Good Reads, Serious Reading, Kirkus Reviews, Book Page, Amy's Scrap Bag, Off The Shelf, Mystery People, Booking Mama, Readers Lane and more. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Thriller Novel you should buy.

Overall Take

In our analysis of 68 expert reviews, the Allen Eskens Allen Eskens The Life We Bury placed 7th when we looked at the top 10 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.

Editor's Note July 2, 2019:
Checkout The Best Thriller Novel for a detailed review of all the top thriller novels.

Expert Summarized Score
8.6
9 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
8.0
6,167 user reviews
Our Favorite Video Reviews
What experts liked
The book is a must read. It’s a story that will move you to tears and renew your faith in the human race.
- Serious Reading
Eskens’ debut is a solid and thoughtful tale of a young man used to taking on burdens beyond his years—none more dangerous than championing a bitter old man convicted of a horrific crime.
- Kirkus Reviews
October 9, 2014 | Full review
Allan Eskens’ compulsively suspenseful first novel reveals that guilt takes many forms —and that getting the story right is essential.
- Book Page
All the emotions felt by the characters are strongly evoked, making the reader believe them. The case took many twists and turns leading to its resolve. In all, a well-written debut.
- Amy's Scrap Bag
December 4, 2017 | Full review
THE LIFE WE BURY is a perfectly blended literary cocktail —although you’ll be tempted, don’t consume it too quickly. This one is to be savored.
- Off The Shelf
September 7, 2018 | Full review
The pacing could be set to a metronome and the style is clean and accessible.
- Mystery People
October 14, 2014 | Full review
I absolutely adored THE LIFE WE BURY and I couldn't put it down. I appreciated the characters (I kind of loved Joe!), and I thought the pace of the story was outstanding.
- Booking Mama
August 10, 2015 | Full review
The Life We Bury ends up being very readable, with characters that stay with you for a while after you put the book down.
- Readers Lane
What experts didn't like
The mystery here isn’t the strongest in the world, and the coincidence fairy shows up a time or two to help move things along.
- Readers Lane

From The Manufacturer

A USA Today bestseller and book club favorite! College student Joe Talbert has the modest goal of completing a writing assignment for an English class. His task is to interview a stranger and write a brief biography of the person. With deadlines looming, Joe heads to a nearby nursing home to find a willing subject. There he meets Carl Iverson, and soon nothing in Joe's life is ever the same. Carl is a dying Vietnam veteran--and a convicted murderer. With only a few months to live, he has been medically paroled to a nursing home, after spending thirty years in prison for the crimes of rape and murder. As Joe writes about Carl's life, especially Carl's valor in Vietnam, he cannot reconcile the heroism of the soldier with the despicable acts of the convict. Joe, along with his skeptical female neighbor, throws himself into uncovering the truth, but he is hamstrung in his efforts by having to deal with his dangerously dysfunctional mother, the guilt of leaving his autistic brother vulnerable, and a haunting childhood memory. Thread by thread, Joe unravels the tapestry of Carl’s conviction. But as he and Lila dig deeper into the circumstances of the crime, the stakes grow higher. Will Joe discover the truth before it’s too late to escape the fallout?

Overall Product Rankings

1. Robert Dugoni My Sister’s Grave
Overall Score: 8.8
Expert Reviews: 10
2. Robert Bryndza The Girl In the Ice
Overall Score: 8.6
Expert Reviews: 8
3. Mike Omer A Killer’s Mind
Overall Score: 8.5
Expert Reviews: 6
4. Michael Connelly The Wrong Side of Goodbye
Overall Score: 8.5
Expert Reviews: 9
5. Dustin Stevens The Boat Man
Overall Score: 8.4
Expert Reviews: 2
6. L.T. Vargus Dead End Girl
Overall Score: 8.2
Expert Reviews: 2
7. Allen Eskens The Life We Bury
Overall Score: 8.2
Expert Reviews: 9
8. Jeff Carson Foreign Deceit
Overall Score: 8.1
Expert Reviews: 2
9. Christopher Greyson The Girl Who Lived
Overall Score: 8.0
Expert Reviews: 7
10. Michael Crichton A Case of Need
Overall Score: 7.5
Expert Reviews: 4

An Overview On Thriller Novels

  • The thriller genre includes a wide range of subgenres, so it’s important to consider the type of thriller you like. Robert Dugoni’s “My Sister’s Grave” is a combination mystery, police procedural and legal thriller, with a strong emphasis on the crime and legal elements. Robert Bryndza’s “The Girl In the Ice” isn’t the right fit for police procedural lovers. It’s more of a suspenseful thriller, following a detective as she attempts to track down a serial killer. With Mike Omer’s “A Killer’s Mind,” you get another chase after a serial killer, with a mystery element that will catch even the most seasoned reader off guard. If you’re familiar with Michael Connelly’s Bosch series, you likely already know he writes mystery thrillers with a strong emphasis on the characters.
  • The goal of any thriller reader is to find a book they can’t quite put down. Robert Dugoni’s “My Sister’s Grave” is one of those books. You’ll get smooth writing that pulls you in from the start. Even though the book does feature some flashbacks, they don’t overwhelm the story. Robert Dugoni, a New York Times bestselling author, introduces us to Tracy Crosswhite, a homicide detective with the Seattle Police Department, who is motivated to track down serial killers due to her sister’s disappearance 20 years prior.
  • Robert Bryndza’s “The Girl In the Ice” features not only an attention-grabbing title and cover, but it also hooks you from page one. You’ll enter the world of Erika Foster, a detective who lost her husband during her last investigation. She’s on the trail of a serial killer possibly responsible for a series of murders in London. There are a few clichés, but you’ll probably be too caught up in the compelling storyline to notice.
  • With Mike Omer’s “A Killer’s Mind,” you get a plot full of twists as it follows Zoe Bentley, a forensic psychologist chasing down a serial killer. Three women have been found embalmed and posed and Zoe has to track down the culprit before he tracks her down.
  • The name Harry Bosch is no stranger to thriller fans, and Michael Connelly’s “The Wrong Side of Goodbye” introduces readers to the 19th book in the series. In this book, Bosch is hired to find the former lover of a dying reclusive billionaire. This book comes across as fresh, even though it’s part of a long-running series.
  • When a thriller fails, it’s often because it simply isn’t “thrilling” enough. That has a great deal to do with pacing. Robert Bryndza’s “The Girl In the Ice” features a relentless pace that keeps you turning the pages. Mike Omer’s “A Killer’s Mind” maintains a steady pace throughout, tossing in some humor where necessary to ease the tension. With Robert Dugoni’s “My Sister’s Grave,” the pace can tend to lag at various points. Be prepared to be patient at first, as the pace gradually builds, drawing you in more slowly than with other thrillers.
  • When it comes down to it, though, the most memorable books are those with characters you truly love. This is no more evident than with the success of the Harry Bosch series, which showcases a hero who is fearless but still very likable. In Robert Dugoni’s “My Sister’s Grave,” Tracy Crosswhite is a well-developed lead, and the secondary characters jump off the page as well. However, the antagonist is a bit one-dimensional, which takes away from the story. On the other hand, Mike Omer’s “A Killer’s Mind” excels with its bad guys, painting them as truly human, which adds to the believability of the plot.
  • Although you don’t want any spoilers, it is helpful to know if an ending is worth the hours you’re about to put into reading a book. You’ll find Robert Dugoni’s “My Sister’s Grave” has a very satisfying conclusion, as does Robert Bryndza’s “The Girl In the Ice.”

DYWM Fun Fact

Thrillers have a long history, dating all the way back to Homer’s “Odyssey,” which features a protagonist overcoming numerous obstacles to find his way home. You’ll also see thriller elements in fairy tales like “Little Red Robin Hood,” which has a young girl dealing with a stalker in the form of a “big, bad wolf.” Although contemporary experts often consider Alfred Hitchcock the master of thrillers, today’s authors often look to books like Robert Ludlum’s “The Bourne Identity” and Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code” for inspiration. The popularity of Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl” created a new trend of twist-filled mystery-thrillers with unreliable protagonists, many written by women.

The Thriller Novel Buying Guide

There’s nothing like a thriller that pulls you in from the start and won’t let you go. But finding that book you just can’t put down can be difficult, especially with the unlimited number of books available today. It can help to start with a New York Times bestseller, but even those can be hit or miss.

Before you choose a thriller novel, it can help to narrow down exactly the type of book that interests you. Do you prefer a book that goes in-depth into police work, or do you like a story told from the criminal’s perspective? There are crime thrillers, disaster thrillers, legal thrillers, medical thrillers, spy thrillers and more. As you begin to narrow the list of subgenres you enjoy most, the list of books to add to your to-read pile will shrink considerably.

Then there are the known names. Authors like Michael Connelly have become fan favorites due to their consistent delivery of compelling stories. Readers know exactly what they’re getting when they pick up a favorite author’s book, and unless the author lets them down, they’ll stay loyal. It also helps when an author’s books land a movie or TV deal, further helping readers know exactly what to expect.

But as with any genre of fiction, it’s all about the writing itself. It’s especially important for thriller novels to maintain a fast pace, prompting readers to turn the page to see what happens next. Many of today’s thrillers also pack in plenty of twists, thanks to the large group of readers who like to try to solve a mystery. But as valuable as those twists are, it won’t help if the reader is left disappointed at the end, so the payoff of those twists is essential.

In many cases, though, it all comes down to characters. If you look back at some of your favorite novels, chances are you think of the characters first. The ability to make the fictional people in a story jump off the page is what makes some authors more successful than others. When you’re reading book reviews, pay close attention to mention of characters since you’ll likely toss the book in the trash if they’re too unredeemable.