- Reviewed by Scott Montgomery, Crime Fiction Coordinator
L ast year, Allen Eskens received much praise and an Edgar nomination for his debut novel, The Life We Bury. He showed a talent for providing rich character development within a classic page turner. In his follow-up, The Guise Of Another, he uses that skill for a different kind of book, even though he brings back a couple of familiar folks.
Our lead is Minneapolis police detective, Alexander Rupert, briefly mentioned by his brother Max, the cop hero in The Life We Bury. Alexander is far from the glory in which his sibling is basking. His marriage is failing, he’s been transferred to the fraud department, and he’s the subject of an internal affairs investigation on corruption in the Narcotics department. He sees his salvation in the form of an ambulance-chasing lawyer whose case involves the death of a James Putnam, a man who supposedly died in a boating accident fifteen years before.
Eskens moves through these styles genres easily, using Alexander’s growing desperation to match the element of desperation in each genre. The slow reveal of his true nature makes him the fitting protagonist for each form the book morphs into.
From this set-up, Eskens creates a plot that moves through three different crime fiction sub-genres. He gives us a fun procedural as Alexander unravels evidence with the aid of a New York police detective who deserves her own book. As he connects Putnam’s history to an old girlfriend and a flash drive, we move into thriller territory with a vicious criminal aptly nicknamed “The Beast,” who’s after some information known only to the flash drive and the ex. He’ll do anything to get to them, and wouldn’t mind killing Alexander as a step along the way. As more information comes to light and Alexander puts more on the line, pulling Max in, we enter a world of noir.
Eskens moves through these styles genres easily, using Alexander’s growing desperation to match the element of desperation in each genre. The slow reveal of his true nature makes him the fitting protagonist for each form the book morphs into. Eskens’ true accomplishment is how we care for his protagonist more as the vice tightens.
The Guise Of Another is a well paced thriller that deftly dives into the idea of identity. It shows how the mask of who we want to be can, in turn, affect who we are.
You can find copies of The Guise of Another on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.