A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Shadows We Hide by Allen Eskens- Feature and Review


In the highly-anticipated sequel to the national bestseller The Life We Bury, Joe Talbert returns to investigate the murder of the father he never knew, and to reckon with his own family's past.

Joe Talbert, Jr. has never once met his namesake. Now out of college, a cub reporter for the Associated Press in Minneapolis, he stumbles across a story describing the murder of a man named Joseph Talbert in a small town in southern Minnesota. 
Full of curiosity about whether this man might be his father, Joe is shocked to find that none of the town's residents have much to say about the dead man-other than that his death was long overdue. Joe discovers that the dead man was a loathsome lowlife who cheated his neighbors, threatened his daughter, and squandered his wife's inheritance after she, too, passed away--an inheritance that may now be Joe's. 
Mired in uncertainty and plagued by his own devastated relationship with his mother, who is seeking to get back into her son's life, Joe must put together the missing pieces of his family history-- before his quest for discovery threatens to put him in a grave of his own.



The Shadows We HideThe Shadows We Hide by Allen Eskens
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Shadows We Hide by Allen Eskens is a 2018 Mulholland Books publication.


This sequel to ‘The Life We Bury’, finds Joe Talbert working with The Associated Press. He is enjoying a little heady success, when suddenly his esteemed career is circling the drain. While on a recommended leave of absence, Joe follows up on the stunning report that a man named Joe Talbert was found dead in Buckley, a small town in Minnesota. Joe feels compelled to find out if this man is his long lost father, whom he never met. His rationalization for making this trip is that Joe ‘Toke’ Talbert has a daughter, meaning Joe may have a sister, a sister who is in the hospital, all alone.

He leaves his long- time girlfriend, Lilah, behind with his autistic brother, Jeremy, while she studies for the bar exam. As Joe begins looking into Toke’s suspicious death, asking questions around town, he immediately discovers he and his inquiries are not all that welcome.

Joe employs his investigative skills to figure out if Toke was murdered, while waiting on pins and needles to find out if he is indeed Toke’s biological son. Apparently, Toke was not too popular, but a few people stood to profit from his death, making it hard to decipher the exact motive behind his untimely demise. Joe’s investigation reveals the tangled family secrets and dynamics of Toke’s life, which also involved a land dispute over his deceased wife’s inheritance.

If Joe really is Toke’s son, he could inherit a sizable sum of money, a prospect that dazzles Joe to the point of distraction. If that weren’t enough, Joe’s mother has suddenly popped back up, seeking his forgiveness, while swearing she has turned over a new leaf. All this upheaval has created a new type of tension between Joe and Lilah, setting the stage for a tense, suspenseful mystery and family drama that threatens to upend all the achievements Joe has worked so hard to obtain, both personally and professionally.

Joe Talbert is such a wonderfully drawn character. He is wary and hardened, but also vulnerable and sensitive. In this sequel, our noble hero proves his human susceptibility and faces his own battles with temptation.

While the mystery is very puzzling and suspenseful, full of rich detail, with surprising twists and turns, this story is so much more than a mystery novel. Despite the giant strides Joe has taken in his life, pulling himself up by the bootstraps and clawing his way out of a situation that might have swallowed most people whole, he is still on a journey of self- discovery. Joe must face his own weaknesses and foibles, waking him up from an over confident slumber. The hard lessons he takes away from this chapter in his life will hopefully open the door for second chances, forgiveness, acceptance, and understanding. Joe, at his core, despite teetering, and nearly falling off the edge, is a good, decent man. Now, he has the chance to become a better one.

This is a well- balanced story, so completely absorbing I couldn’t tear myself away from it. I was mesmerized by it from start to finish, but I must say the ending was the relish on top of an already spectacular story.

Overall, this follow up novel was everything I had hoped it would be and more. I do hope we will catch up to Joe Talbert again sometime in the not too distant future.



Allen Eskens grew up in the wooded hills of Missouri and, after high school, migrated north to pursue his education. He acquired a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Minnesota, and a Juris Doctorate from Hamline University School of Law. He honed his creative writing skills in the M.F.A. program at Minnesota State University and took classes at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. 

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