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Forsaken Country

Review

Forsaken Country

To say that Max Rupert has fallen off the beaten track into a self-imposed sort of isolation would be an understatement. The tragic death of his wife has led the former Minneapolis homicide detective to leave everything behind, grow his hair out like a true mountain man, and move into a no-frills cabin deep in the woods.

However, Max cannot escape from everyone. Ex-local sheriff Lyle Voight finds him and makes a desperate plea. His daughter, Sandy, and his six-year-old grandson, Pip, are nowhere to be found, and he believes they were taken from their home against their will. Even though evidence may lead many to think that they had left of their own accord, Lyle is convinced that Sandy’s ex-husband, Reed, is behind their disappearance.

"FORSAKEN COUNTRY is Allen Eskens at his most raw and brutal as he produces some of the best cat-and-mouse games I have read in a while."

As hard as he tries, Lyle is unable to persuade Max to return to his old detection ways and is turned down. Meanwhile, we learn that Lyle’s suspicions are indeed correct. Not only is Reed the guilty party, he has teamed up with an extremely dangerous individual named Spud, who broke into Sandy’s house. Even though he claims he was only there to rob her, Spud ends up taking her life with a garrote. Pip returns to Reed, while Sandy’s house and vehicle are made to look like they took off in a hurry to get away from her current live-in boyfriend.

Max eventually softens and begins his own subtle investigation into the last known whereabouts of Sandy and Pip. He does let Lyle know that he will need the assistance of someone who still has a badge, so he reaches out to his former partner from Minneapolis, Detective Niki Vang. When they reunite, some of their old magic is at play, even though Niki must take the lead as Max is still a deeply broken man who easily can fall prey to his own demons and lose focus.

Max literally cleans up his act as he gets a much-needed haircut and beard trim. He and Nikki feel that perhaps Reed and Spud have pulled a Strangers on a Train move, whereby each murdered a person from each other’s life in some sort of deadly pact. This is partially confirmed by the news of a murder in Spud’s family, which makes Max and Niki fear the worst outcome for Sandy.

Max refuses to give up his search for Pip, at the very least, even though Lyle will not accept that his daughter is dead. The two men will find out quickly that there are few animals more dangerous than a desperate father, and Reed will take Pip as far away as he can once he realizes that Lyle is after him. The chase’s suspense level is through the roof, especially since we already are aware of Sandy’s fate, which Lyle is not privy to yet.

FORSAKEN COUNTRY is Allen Eskens at his most raw and brutal as he produces some of the best cat-and-mouse games I have read in a while. There is redemption to be had, but the price may be too high for his characters to pay. This is a novel that you will not easily forget.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on September 23, 2022

Forsaken Country
by Allen Eskens

  • Publication Date: September 20, 2022
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Mulholland Books
  • ISBN-10: 0316703540
  • ISBN-13: 9780316703543