All of Allen Eskens’ Books in Order

Allen Eskens is a bestselling author of mysteries and crime fiction. As an ex-lawyer himself, Esken provides realistic and captivating narratives in novels such as The Life We Bury, The Guise of Another, The Heavens May Fall and The Stolen Hours. 

All of Allen Eskens’ Books in Order

Although each novel is packed full of drama, action and tension, Esken describes his books not as a series, “but rather character arcs that revolve around a small community”. Through interaction, struggle and personal development, Esken creates deep characters that drive his novels to success. 

Allen Eskens has received a plethora of awards for his novels, including the Minnesota Book Award, the Rosebud Award, the Silver Falchion Award, the Barry Award and has been a finalist for a number of others. 

His debut novel, The Life We Bury (2014) has been translated into 26 languages, is enjoyed by millions worldwide and is currently being made into a film adaptation.

There are eight Eskens mysteries to sink your teeth into, but in what order should you read them? Let’s take a look at the order you should use to ensure maximum understanding and enjoyment.

Allen Eskens Books in Order

Discussing the order of Allen Esken’s books is fairly complicated, because they can be read in different ways. Many readers frequently divide these novels by character, while others just use the publication order. 

It’s important to know that all of the books are centered around the same people in the same community, so whether you decide to order them by character or by publication, they will make sense either way.

This is the basic publication order that can be used:

  1. The Life We Bury (2014)
  2. The Guise of Another (2015)
  3. The Heavens May Fall (2016)
  4. The Deep Dark Descending (2017)
  5. The Shadows We Hide (2018)
  6. Nothing More Dangerous (2019)
  7. The Stolen Hours (2021)
  8. Forsaken Country (2022)

However, if you were to divide the books by character, they would appear like this:

Joe Talbert books in order:

  1. The Life We Bury (2014)
  2. The Shadows We Hide (2018)
  3. The Stolen Hours (2021)

Detective Max Rupert books in order:

  1. The Guise of Another (2015)
  2. The Heavens May Fall (2016)
  3. The Deep Dark Descending (2017)

Standalone books:

  • Nothing More Dangerous (2019)
  • Forsaken Country (2022)

While the order in which you read these wonderful books is totally up to you, we’re going to keep it simple and delve into each book in the order of their publication.

The Life We Bury

The Life We Bury

Allen Eskens’ debut novel, The Life We Bury was published in 2014 and follows 21-year-old college student, Joe Talbert. 

Inspired by one of his college assignments, Joe begins uncovering the truth about the murder of a young girl which took place 30 years earlier. 

As details emerge and characters develop, the clarity of this murder case blurs and Joe makes it his priority to find the killer and solve the mystery.

Eskens’ novel unveils secrets and connects characters in this tense and suspenseful debut. Now is the perfect time to read this thriller, before its upcoming film adaptation is released.

The Life We Bury is loved and recommended by most readers.

Pros: This novel provides the starting point for the rest of Eskens’ novels and is essential in determining his style, tone and genre.

Cons: The novel is not as in-depth as Eskens’ following books.

The Guise of Another

The Guise of Another

The Guise of Another follows detective Alexander Rupert who attempts to rebuild his reputation by solving a complicated and enthralling identity fraud case. 

But when the case spirals out of control and Alexander finds himself crossing paths with a trained assassin, he seeks the help of his brother and fellow detective Max, as they work together to unravel the truth behind this complex case.

As Alexander’s private life begins crumbling around him, he is forced to juggle new issues emerging from his workplace and marriage with the complex duties required to solve the case, Alexander is torn between priorities and begins questioning everything he thought he knew about his life.

Rated highly on Amazon, The Guise of Another is a gripping thriller guaranteed to captivate the interest of its readers.

Pros: In this novel, Eskens introduces the new characters that will become core to his following publications.

Cons: The book is rated lower than Eskens’ debut.

The Heavens May Fall

The Heavens May Fall

This mystery also follows homicide detective Max Rupert, who is challenged with solving the murder of Jennavieve Pruitt. Although Max is convinced that her husband, Ben, is her killer, Max’s friend, attorney Boady Sanden who defends Ben, is convinced that he is innocent. 

The case stirs up unresolved issues for both Max and Boady, whose relationship has been strained by the conflict of interest. The narrative flips between these two contrasting perspectives, as both protagonists struggle with their own personal issues, creating a tense and engrossing story.

The Heavens May Fall is another gripping and suspenseful novel, with a new focus on friendship and interaction.

Pros: The novel encompasses the tension of Allen Eskens’ other novels with a new, personal motif that concentrates on relationships, emotional strain and grief. 

Cons:  Many reviews claim this novel is harder to follow because of Eskens’ use of flashbacks, which makes the plotline more difficult to track.

The Deep Dark Descending

The Deep Dark Descending

Once again closely following the personal life and detective work of Max Rupert, The Deep Dark Descending is one of Eskens’ most thrilling books as it combines his haunting memories with his most emotive case yet.

Still grieving the loss of his wife five years prior, Max uncovers the truth of her death – what was originally deemed an innocent car crash turns out to be anything but an accident. He is given a voice recording by his friend-turned-enemy Boady Sanden that clearly articulates the plans for his wife’s murder.

Max must cooperate with the corrupt homicide department and unravel the circumstances that led to his wife’s death. Searching for answers and fuelled by revenge, Max is willing to risk everything to find who is responsible, including himself.

Pros: This novel dives deeper into the emotions of the protagonist, making for an emotive and gripping read.

Cons: Many have criticized the emotive foundations of this novel, claiming they slow down the narrative and make the book harder to get into.

The Shadows We Hide

The Shadows We Hide

Flicking back to the narrative of Joe Talbert, first introduced in Eskens’ debut, the novel exposes more about his private life.

Joe happens upon an article about a man called Joseph Talbert, murdered in a small town in Minnesota. Curious that this may be the father he never knew, Joe begins investigating the murder and visits the town to unearth the details. 

As more details emerge and family secrets are uncovered, Joe’s personal life is thrown into disarray. He must find out more about his family’s past and connect the missing pieces, but relatives, prior loyalties and financial queries stand in the way.

The Shadows We Hide has received a plethora of positive reviews on Amazon.

Pros: Although murder and mystery are consistent themes throughout this novel, many reviewers have applauded Joe’s new, emotional and personal development seen in this book.

Cons: Following three novels about Max Rupert, this novel can feel a bit out of place. This is one reason why reading the books in order of character narration is a good option.

Nothing More Dangerous

Nothing More Dangerous

This novel follows Boady Sanden, featured in some of the novels narrated by Max Rupert. After living with widowed mother in a small town in Missouri for fifteen years, Boady wishes to escape and see the world. 

A new neighbor throws a spanner in the works, intriguing Boady about their family secrets and mysterious past, but when Lida Poe, an African-American woman suddenly disappears from their town, Boady’s interest peaks.

As he unearths the details of Lida’s disappearance, Boady realizes that although he’s never met her, he is far more connected to her life than he originally anticipated. As the two become interlinked, Boady learns more about himself, Lida, and the racial and class implications that both connect and separate his town.

Nothing More Dangerous is new territory for Eskens, as he delves into an adolescent character and deals with new, current themes such as race and class.

Pros: The interpolation of race and class into an already intense and gripping thriller boosts the story and provides new texture to the already high-rated Eskens style.

Cons: Writing Boady in adolescence is a jump backwards for a lot of readers, which can make the novel harder to follow.

The Stolen Hours

The Stolen Hours

Joe Talbert’s girlfriend Lila is living a successful and happy life, fulfilled by her career as an attorney and her personal life, until a local attack on a young woman strikes a nerve. 

Haunted by her memories, Lila is forced to unveil the secret she has been hiding for years and uses the details of her own experiences to catch the attacker before it’s too late. 

As evidence wears thin, Lila is under pressure to outsmart the attacker who has thoroughly and meticulously prepared for investigation against him while trying to battle the emotional implications of her past.

The Stolen Hours is highly rated on Amazon.

Pros: Eskens uses more twists and turns, keeping readers on the edges of their seats.

Cons: Some reviews criticize Eskens’ attempt to mimic the female psyche. This novel is the first that uses a female protagonist, opening him up to new scrutiny.

Forsaken Country

Forsaken Country

The most recent of Eskens’ novels jumps back to the beloved narrative of Max Rupert, who now lives alone, mourning his wife and racked with guilt about his knowledge of her death.

When the local sheriff refuses to take the case, Max is approached by the former local sheriff, Lyle Voight, whose daughter Sandy and grandson Pip have vanished. Max and Lyle are both convinced that Sandy’s ex-husband has kidnapped them, but as Lyle and Max gather evidence, the plot thickens and the desperate father and ex-husband becomes harder to find or charge. 

Determined to return a woman and her child back to safety, Max redirects his attention to this case and in turn, tries to aid his own grief.

Forsaken Country continues Eskens’ streak of high-rated novels.

Pros: Eskens uses the loved character, Max Rupert as his narrator, which many readers will be acquainted with and have a connection to.

Cons: Many reviewers claim that this novel lacks the same intensity present in the other novels.

Final Thoughts

Allen Eskens’ novels are intense, gripping and mysterious thrillers that center around the same beloved characters. However, his novels frequently jump between characters and time periods, making the stories difficult to follow if you don’t know what order to read them in. We hope this article has been helpful in demonstrating how Eskens’ novels can be read and understood.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Allen Eskens’ books all crime thrillers?

Effectively, yes. Although Eskens experiments with deep characters and complex topics such as class and race, all his books follow murder mysteries or disappearances, led by detectives or lawyers attempting to solve the cases.

Can I skip any of Allen Eskens’ books?

Eskens’ books follow the same characters, so if you prefer Max Rupert to Joe Talbert, you can pick and choose the novels written from his perspective and miss out the ones that concentrate on Joe. Then again, Eskens is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author for a reason, so we recommend you binge on his books and don’t skip.

Are there any films based on Allen Eskens’ books?

Not yet. However, his debut novel, The Life We Bury is currently being adapted into a film. Who knows whether his other novels will follow!

Is there a sequel to The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens

No, not yet. Eskens has mentioned there likely won’t be a sequel to this incredible book, but here’s hoping.

Is The Life We Bury being made into a movie?

We researched this and while the rights to the book might have been optioned for a movie or TV show, nothing official has been announced.

Bonus: 20 Other Great Crime Thriller Books for Fans of Allen Eskens

If you just can’t get enough of riveting literature, here are some additional pageturners, handpicked by our editorial team:

1. The Outsider by Stephen King (2018 – Crime Thriller)
2. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (2015 – Psychological Thriller)
3. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (2012 – Psychological Thriller)
4. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides (2019 – Psychological Thriller)
5. The Night Fire by Michael Connelly (2020 – Crime Thriller)
6. Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow (1987 – Legal Thriller)
7. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (2003 – Mystery Thriller)
8. The Snowman by Jo Nesbo (2007 – Crime Thriller)
9. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson (2005 – Crime Thriller)
10. The Daemon by Daniel Suarez (2006 – Techno Thriller)
11. The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy (1984 – Spy Thriller)
12. Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane (2003 – Psychological Thriller)
13. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (2005 – Crime Thriller)
14. The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly (2005 – Legal Thriller)
15. I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes (2014 – Spy Thriller)
16. The Bone Collector by Jeffery Deaver (1997 – Crime Thriller)
17. The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum (1980 – Spy Thriller)
18. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest by Stieg Larsson (2007 – Crime Thriller)
19. The Firm by John Grisham (1991 – Legal Thriller)
20. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (2006 – Psychological Thriller)

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Colton Cowie