Homicide detective Max Rupert and lawyer Boady Sanden are longtime friends, but in Allen Eskens’ crime thriller The Heavens May Fall, they’re on opposite sides of the fence, with an ever-widening divide between them.
Max is a widower, still grieving his wife’s death four years earlier by a hit-and-run driver who was never apprehended. Boady hasn’t practiced law since the death of his last client, an innocent man who was deemed guilty even after Boady’s best legal efforts. These characters appear in Eskens’ previous work, The Life We Bury, and are more fully fleshed out in this novel.
On the anniversary of his own wife’s death, Max finds himself heading up the team assigned to the gruesome, perplexing murder of a woman who turns out to be Jennavieve Pruitt, the wife of Ben Pruitt, a prominent attorney, with whom Max has some bad history dating back to another case. Ben has an alibi for the night of his wife’s death, but it’s a leaky one and he needs a good attorney.
Boady, who was once Ben’s law partner, agrees to represent him, thus locking in an adversarial relationship between Max and Boady, one that will forever alter their friendship. Each man approaches the murder through the lens of his own personal loss, each trying to restore an invisible balance while drawing on darker, earlier moments in his life. Max’s vision may be obscured by a need for inner healing; Boady seeks reason and redemption from his past failures or omissions.
This tension-filled book explores the case from each man’s perspective—that of the detective who believes the victim’s husband is guilty of murder, and that of the attorney who believes that his client is innocent. The novel is occasionally clunky and overwrought in style, with a few unnecessarily gory details, but the author’s expert use of the modes of traditional crime fiction, combined with the legal proceedings and intriguing trial scenes, makes an effective combination that results in a fast-moving narrative.
The Heavens May Fall pretends to provide us with all the angles, giving readers a false sense of security, perhaps the illusion of transparency, only to cheat us at the end, as only good thrillers can, by throwing in some unexpected shocks and last-minute story twists.