The Heavens May Fall, Allen Eskens
Jennavieve Pruitt is found stabbed to death with no identification in an alley several miles from her home. Due to a lucky clue Detective Max Rupert is able to identify her as the wife of a prominent local attorney. Rushing to the home he and his partner find a bloody scene in her bedroom. Rupert has had dealings with the husband in the past. Ben Pruitt introduced a false document in a trial where Rupert was a witness. The document stated that Rupert had faked evidence in an earlier case. While the matter was cleared up it was enough to taint the jury.
Rupert has his suspicions about Pruitt, but Pruitt claims to have been at a convention hours away in Chicago at the time of the crime. A law professor, former attorney, and friend to both men Broady Sanden agrees to defend Pruitt, eventually putting all three men at odds with each other. Key to the drama: Is Rupert on the right track in pursuing the husband or is he simply holding a grudge from their past interactions?
Part police procedural and part legal thriller, Eskens draws on characters from a previous novel The Life We Bury. I haven’t read the previous book but this novel is easy to follow. As a newcomer, however, it explains why Eskens felt the need to focus on details from before the current setting that seemed odd and repetitive to someone starting up with this book.
There are a few false trails in the book, exacerbated by Rupert’s distractions from the death of his wife four years earlier. His wife’s name was Jenny and he sometimes conflates the case to find Jennavieve’s killer with Jenny’s killing by a hit-and-run driver who was never found.
The book is told from different perspectives, but Eskens manages to keep the solution to the mystery a secret until a sudden turn near the end of the book. In some ways it could be seen coming early but the key to the situation is still a surprise.
A highly readable book with a satisfying ending, though it does leave at least two things unresolved and I wouldn’t be surprised if these didn’t feed another book down the line.