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The Heavens May Fall
By Allen Eskens
Prometheus BooksCopyright © 2016 Allen Eskens
All rights reserved.
The courtroom had fallen quiet, the judge's words lost behind a low hum that droned in Max Rupert's ears. Max reached for his water glass, a waxy paper cup on the rail of the witness stand. It lifted empty and light. He didn't remember drinking the last of his water. He paused, the empty cup halfway to his lips, unsure what to do next. Pretend to take a drink? Put the cup back down on the rail?
And such silence; how was that possible in a courtroom full of people ? So quiet that he could hear the blood pulsing through his ears, his rage thumping against his ear drums, flicking the tips of his fingers. He fought against showing any facial expression. The jury would be studying him as the echoes of the cross-examination pinged and settled into their memories. Look at me, Sanden, Max yelled in his mind, the words pounding like ball-peen on steel. Look in my eyes, you sonofabitch. He willed the attorney to raise his head, but Boady Sanden kept his gaze fixed on the legal pad at his elbow.
Max took a slow, subtle breath and tried to relax. He didn't want the jury to see the emotion that fought to break free of its tether. He saw the empty cup in his half-raised hand. He'd forgotten about it for a moment. He raised the empty cup a few more inches, tipping it to verify that it was bone dry, not a single drop to trickle onto his dry tongue. He pretended to take a sip anyway, and then he gently returned the cup to the rail.
"You can step down now, Detective Rupert," Judge Ransom said. Rupert detected a slight edge in the judge's voice — the tone of a man who'd just had to repeat his words.
Max stood, picked up his file, and exited the witness box, glancing at the fourteen jurors as he passed them. Only one, an alternate, returned his look. As he passed the counsel table, Max looked down at the defense attorney, Boady Sanden, his friend — no, not his friend, not anymore.
Sanden kept his eyes focused on the yellow tablet in front of him. He pretended to be writing something, but Max could see that the man's pen twirled in meaningless circles in the margin of the page. Max wanted Boady to look up as he passed. He wanted Boady to know that lines had been crossed and it would forever sever the connection they once shared. But Boady Sanden never looked up.
Max exited the courtroom, his thumbnail scuffing against the fold of the investigation file in his hand. He found an empty conference room, a space the size of a jail cell where attorneys fed false hopes to clients, a room where desperation clung to the walls as thick as grease in a fast-food kitchen. He spread his hands on the table, the cool metal chilling the sweat of his palms. He let his heart rate slow from a boil to a simmer as he watched a slight tremor twitch in his fingers. Anger? Sure. Embarrassment? Maybe a little of that too. But there was something more to that tremor, something that shifted his sense of balance and felt very much like doubt.
For months now Max had carried the Pruitt case around with him, its reflection looking back at him from the mirror, its scent infusing the air he breathed, its rough hem tucking up around his shoulders as he fell to sleep at night. He'd bestowed life upon this investigation, animated it in a way that gave it a presence in his world. He felt that presence at his side when he took his seat on the witness chair. But when he left the witness stand, he left alone.
Sanden had cut him up pretty good — made Max look like he'd trained his crosshairs on Ben Pruitt from the very beginning and shut out all other possible suspects. But had he?
Max opened his investigation file and began sifting through the reports, looking for the beginning, that day when they found the body. But then he closed the file. He didn't need notes to take him back to that morning, He remembered that morning all too well. It was a broken morning, torn apart by the memories that visited him every year on the anniversary of his wife's death.
Excerpted from The Heavens May Fall by Allen Eskens. Copyright © 2016 Allen Eskens. Excerpted by permission of Prometheus Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is the third book i have read by Eskenes and his next one can not be published soon enough! Mitzi
I have to a habit of getting absorbed into some series like this one. Have to admit I got hooked on the first of Mr. Erskine's novel I read - "Deep Dark Descending". Then, read the other 3 out of time sequence and that was a bit confusing. But I loved them all. These were all borrowed from my local library ebook service. Now I have them all purchased for my nook from BN so I can re read and hilite/note as needed. I find the characters realistic and developed and where applicable cohesive from book to book. I have also pre- purchased the next in the series and anxiously waiting it's release.
Very Creative and keeps you off balance.
A taut, gripping, page-turner, this police procedural, legal thriller, mystery and psychological suspense is sheer magic for fans of this multi-varied genre. Told by two separate perspectives, the reader is willingly plunged into a riveting murder investigation that revolves around members of the law profession and the homicide department. The writer skillfully increases tension and holds the reader hostage in a breathtaking tale with twists and turns to the very last page. Mr. Eskens is a talented writer who understands his audience and keeps them guessing to the end.
Rarely does a murder mystery keep me guessing until the very end. The Heavens May Fall did. This is a true whodunit. There are plenty of red herrings and plot twists to keep true mystery fans invovled. And I was especially pleased to see that the author got it right when it came to explaining legal procedures and legal ethics. As an attorney, I am frequently frustrated when judges and lawyers in works of fiction say and do things that are unrealistic or even prohibited. This book, however, provided a fair and accurate presentation of how a murder case might really happen.
I loved it. I enjoyed how he incorporated characters from The Life We Bury. Lots of twists and turns to the plot. Keep the books coming!
You know that little frisson of excitement you get when you start to read a new author and realize you've found someone who is good, really good? I had that feeling when I read Allen Eskens' award winning debut novel, The Life We Bury, in 2014. (my review) The next book, The Guise of Another was just as good. (my review) On re-reading my review, I see that Max Rupert, was my favourite character in TGOA and that 'I'd love to see him in another book, even in a peripheral role." Well, I got my wish! Detective Max Rupert is the lead character in Esken's just released third book, The Heavens May Fall. Jennavieve Pruitt is found dead, her body dumped in an alley. But the original crime scene is her own bedroom. Jennavieve's husband, attorney Ben Pruitt was out of town, that day. But, Pruitt has a history with the police, specifically with Rupert. Despite his claims of innocence, Rupert likes him for the crime. This is the case that Rupert pulls on the anniversary of his own wife's unsolved murder. Lawyer Boady Sanden is a friend to both men. When Pruitt asks him to represent him - even before any charges have brought - Sanden hesitates....he had to walk away from the law six years ago for personal reasons. But in the end he agrees. Eskens has crafted another great plot, giving the reader the best of two genres - police procedural and legal reads. The final reveal of whodunit at the end, complete with a nice little twist was great. The ongoing search for Rupert's wife's murderer provides a nice sub-plot. But Eskens takes things a step further in his novels. His characters have depth and introspective voices. The Heavens May Fall is told from two perspectives - that of Max and Boady. The reader sees the investigation and trial from two different viewpoints. But what we also see is the inner turmoil of each man, their search for personal peace of mind against the search for justice. Friendship and loyalty are also pitted against justice. I always enjoy coming across the origins of a book's title as I read. In this case... "Fiat justitia ruat caelum - do justice though the heavens may fall. If a person is ever presented with the choice, that person must always do what is right even though it may bring on great personal loss." Eskens himself is a defense lawyer. That credibility, combined with his impressive writing chops, makes for some great reading. The Heavens My Fall could absolutely be read as a stand-alone. But do yourself a favour and pick up the previous two as well. You won't be disappointed
Two seasoned lawyers, Max Rupert and Boady Sanden, who are also friends face each other, one a prosecuting attorney accusing Ben Pruitt of murdering his wife, Jennavieve and the other one defending the accused. Max lost his wife to a hit and run accident one year ago and his emotions are in full throttle on the one year anniversary of that devastating loss. Could this cloud his thinking about Ben’s guilt or innocence? He thinks not but Boady is out for the objective truth. Boady, on the other hand, carries the burden of a lost case, a loss he finds to be an unforgivable failure. He has managed to move beyond that moment but it still looms large in the background and he’s determined it won’t mar the way he handles this case, as Ben is also a colleague and friend. Boady enlists the support of a student, Lila Nash, who both learns from Boady and offers critically objective perspective when it is most needed. Ben supposedly has a perfect alibi and yet a woman who lived across the street from his home claims she saw him in a red car outside his house on the night of the murder. Max believes this is all the evidence he needs but Boady is not so sure. Ben and Jennavieve supposedly had a perfect marriage, with its normal ups and downs, but could both of them have secrets that no one else has recognized until now? Max is accused of ignoring other potential suspects and also receives a reprimand for taking home a file about his wife’s murder. Since all other investigators consider that a closed case, Max sees no harm in reviewing the available evidence. The gradual evolution of this murder investigation and trial will shock all readers as no one even hints at a clever manipulation of alibis that will affect both this case and connect to Max’s wife’s death as well. Stunning, clever plot with a splendid depiction of how legal minds can manipulate cases to both protect and incriminate potential defendants. Highly recommended, indeed!