Killer Nashville Book of the Day

“The Life We Bury” by Allen Eskens / Reviewed by Kate Proffitt

Purchase “The Life We Bury” or read other reviews through Killer Nashville’s affiliate,*

Allen Eskens Credit Daniel Dinsmore
Allen Eskens
Credit: Daniel Dinsmore


What do you get when you combine a wrongfully convicted war veteran, a boy struggling to become the man he wants to be, and a murder trial that has been closed for thirty years? The intricate storyline of Allen Eskens’ “The Life We Bury“.

Set against the backdrop of a metropolis in Minnesota, college student Joe Talbert desperately wants an A on a college assignment. For the project, Joe chooses to interview Carl Iverson, a nursing home resident who is dying of pancreatic cancer. Talbert assumes Iverson will be an easy, if somewhat bland, subject but soon realizes Iverson is nothing like he appears to be.

Unsure of why he wants to help Carl, Joe sets out to discover the truth of Iverson’s past. Joe embarks on an intense journey complete with abandoned huts, arsonists, and unexpected allies, including the neighbor with whom Joe is infatuated. Through discovering Carl’s secrets, Joe begins to dwell on his own unhappy past: his alcoholic mother, his absent father, his beloved late grandfather, and his sometimes-difficult autistic brother.

As Carl grows weaker and time starts running out, Joe realizes that despite Iverson’s pretenses, Iverson wants his name cleared before he dies. Over the course of the novel, it becomes evident that Joe isn’t searching for the truth for his grade or even for Carl: Joe feels that in finding the truth that he has always desired, he will also find himself.

If you’re looking for a book that will challenge, captivate, and move you, “The Life We Bury” will not disappoint. Brimming with emotions and challenging questions of innocence, Joe discovers that the choices we make may not define us, but deciding whether we can live with them does.

Kate Proffitt is a creative writing major who loves to read, write, travel, and drink a lot more Diet Coke than she should.

(If you have a book you would like featured, send an ARC for consideration. The Killer Nashville Book Reviews are coordinated by Clay Stafford with the irreplaceable assistance of Meaghan Hill, Maria Giordano, Will Chessor, and credited guest reviewers. For more writer resources, visit us at

*Killer Nashville is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. If you purchase a book from the links on this page, Amazon will give Killer Nashville a small percentage of the total sale. Killer Nashville receives zero compensation (other than sometimes the book to review) from publishers who have been selected for the Book of the Day.

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