Allen Eskens is an American author known for his Max Rupert crime mystery series. Reading his books in order means picking us this relatively new but popular series.
Allen Eskens (website) was born and raised in central Missouri, and after high school, he moved north to Minnesota to study further. Allen attended the University of Minnesota from where he got his BA in journalism. Next, after graduating from the university, he enrolled at the Minnesota State University to get his Master’s degree. Nexxt was Hamline University, where he pursued a degree in law from where he got his Juris Doctorate degree.
After leaving school, he studied creative writing at a few prominent schools: he took the M.F.A. program at Minnesota State University-Mankato, and then took further classes at the Loft Literary Center and the Iowa Summer Writer’s Festival.
After working as a criminal defense attorney for 27 years, Allen Eskens left his law career to write novels full time.
His debut novel, The Life We Bury, was published in 2014. It features Joe Talbot, a University of Minnesota student, who decides to interview a murderer who was released from prison as he now has a very short time to live due to cancer.
Towards the end of the book, the main character in the author’s next novels, Max Rupert, also features, but to a lesser degree. Allen Eskens’ first novel was so popular that it won the Left Coast Crime Rosebud Award and a Barry Award for best paperback original.
The next three books all feature Max Rupert, although the books are not officially part of a series.
The latest book was published in 2017 with the title The Deep Dark Descending and it is the direct continuation of The Heavens May Fall, which starts Max’s hunt for his wife’s killer.
While the author doesn’t officially consider his novels as part of a series, I still suggest you read the Allen Eskens books in order, as at least books 2-4 are all about Max. You will get to learn about him, his brother Alex, and some of his friends and partners. And you find out what drives Max to do what he does in the latest book.
In The Life We Bury, Max Rupert only appears towards the end of the book. At the time I thought Joe Talbert was the main character. And he was, but only in that very first novel. Another important character was Max’s brother, Alexander, who appeared in the next novel as well. However, the longer I read the series, the more Max became the focus on the next books.
The book where Alexander’s story was told was The Guise of Another. Here he was the center focal point, although Max Rupert appeared as well. I started reading the series with the so far last novel, The Deep Dark Descending, where Max has the center stage in the book, so there I was convinced that Max would feature equally in the author’s previous books as well. I was wrong, however, because if I had started the series with The Guise of Another, I would have believed that Alexander was the cop the series was about.
That’s why, reading the Allen Eskens series in order is crucial because you will get to learn about several characters through each book. Every single book has a separate character as focal point, although each book also features the other main protagonists to a lessser degree as well.
The latest novel, The Deep Dark Descending ended on a major cliffhanger and I can’t wait to see what happens next. Max made some very un-cop-like decisions which would definitely change his entire career – if he still has one. Based on the previous books in the series, it may very well be that someone else will be featured in the author’s sixth novel.
The author’s debut novel, The Life We Bury was awarded Best Debut Novel of 2014 during the Left Coast Crime Conference. It also won the Rosebud Award and was nominated for the Edgar Award, the Thriller Award, Anthony Award and the Barry Award for Best Paperback Original novel, followed by the Minnesota Book Award.
Here are the Allen Eskens books in publication and chronological order.
Max Rupert Series
1. The Life We Bury (Max Rupert #1), 2014
2. The Guise of Another (Max Rupert #2), 2015
3. The Heavens May Fall (Max Rupert #3), 2016
4. The Deep Dark Descending (Max Rupert #4), 2017