Book reviews are of course, subjective. They are relative too. Relative to what is on the recent reading list, genres, and to other work by the same author. The Heavens May Fall is fine, with a decent plot, suspense, and an unexpected twist. So this crime drama from Allen Eskens is fine. However, after a stretch of reading that included literary heavyweights Anthony Marra, Colum McCann, and Amor Towles…. Well, it’s all relative, right?
Perhaps it’s also the comparison to Eskens’ last book, The Guise of Another, reviewed here last year. Quite good, and memorable as a rather fun crime drama - one with a likable, if not completely innocent, protagonist. But his latest release The Heavens May Fall basically does fall, short of my expectations. The general plot is hackneyed, but strong, and Eskens’ own legal experience successfully helps develop the storyline. But I couldn’t connect with the character I felt I was supposed to connect with most. And the best I can say about the writing, is that it was concise.
Our two leading characters are Max Rupert, a homicide detective haunted by his wife’s unsolved death years prior, and Boady Sanden, a scarred defense attorney that has come out of retirement to represent his former law partner and friend who’s been accused of murder. There are several threads of old grudges, long time alliances, and previous wrongs that intersect to make the story interesting. And naturally, there is the accused, Ben Pruitt, the high powered attorney and father accused of murdering his wife. Then there are supporting characters that showed promise to be the troublemakers we love to hate - the deceased’s sister, the state’s prosecuting attorney - but neither were developed enough for me to care. There was a big wind up with no pitch.
And Max Rupert - poor Max. I wanted to root for him, to fall for him, to respect him. Well, he achieved the latter at least, and perhaps his character is closer to reality than I gave him credit for, but I’m not reading this for reality. I want - I expect - a hero. I didn’t get one. The Heavens May Fall was a needed break from some of the intellectually substantial and emotional stories I’ve been reading of late, but I’m ready to move on to the next heady creation.
Publisher: Seventh Street Books
Vickie’s rating: 2.5 stars