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Extended Audio Sample The Life We Bury, by Allen Eskens Click for printable size audiobook cover
4.75 out of 54.75 out of 54.75 out of 54.75 out of 54.75 out of 5 4.75 (16 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Allen Eskens Narrator: Zach Villa Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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?

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Set against the backdrop of a brutal Minnesota winter, The Life We Bury is much more than a satisfying, suspenseful novel…The characters are as real as my next-door neighbors, the story compelling, and the writing superb.”

    Suspense magazine

  • “As Joe learns more about the events of the murder, he is faced with several threats to his own safety, yet refuses to give up his pursuit of the truth. More complications ensue, until the novel’s satisfying resolution.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Thriller fans should keep their eyes on Eskens; he’s a comer.”


  • “Compulsively suspenseful.”


  • “Eskens’ first-person narration grabs the reader and never relinquishes its hold.”

    Library Journal

  • “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

  • “Narrator Zach Villa’s low-key but appealing performance of Eskens’ debut mystery is a true audio pleasure…Joe is a thoroughly decent and responsible character, and Villa renders those qualities perfectly. Jeremy is appropriately slightly wooden-voiced, and their mother is a shrewish drunk. Villa ratchets up the drama and pacing as Joe wades into danger when he identifies a likely alternative killer. He is also a master of evoking the cold loneliness of the rural Minnesota landscape. Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award.”


  • Finalist for the Edgar Allan Poe Award
  • Finalist for the Anthony Award
  • Winner of the 2015 Barry Award for Best Paperback Original
  • Finalist for the 2015 International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel
  • A Library Journal Editor’s Pick for Fall 2014
  • An October 2014 LibraryReads Pick
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Slow Motion | 5/11/2016

    " The life we bury was a very moving and impactful book. It talks about real life situations, making it both emotional and exciting. I could relate to the primary character on so many levels. Being only eight hours gives it two thumbs up in my book, lol. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by redtop | 5/9/2016

    " I'm very hard to please with narrators, Zach was amazing !!! "

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About the Author

Allen Eskens has been a criminal defense attorney for twenty years. He honed his creative writing skills through the MFA program at Minnesota State University as well as classes at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. He is a member of the Twin Cities Sisters in Crime. He is currently working on a follow-up novel to The Life We Bury.