Book review: ‘The Guise of Another’ by Allen Eskens

By LARRY BALLWAHN | Wilton

James Putnam is killed in traffic accident through no fault of his own. The cause is strange, to say the least, but since its only bearing on the story is the demise of James, who turns out not to be James, we’ll leave it alone. The fact that James is not really James has everything to do with the story, so we’ll start there. As a demoted Alexander Rupert investigates the situation, it becomes clear that a stolen identity is involved. Further, “James” has a sizeable annual inflow of cash that can’t be traced, but it also can’t be attributed to the usual sources.

About this time, we become aware of Drago, a veteran of the Balkan wars and a trained assassin. The reader gets to follow his progress as he becomes aware that the whereabouts of “James,” a man he has been seeking for years, has now been identified. Drago is not yet aware that “James” is dead, although he intends to take care of that soon. He also intends to tie up any loose ends; e.g., anyone else who might know “James’” business. One killingmore or less doesn’t mean anything to Drago.

And so, it goes back and forth, chapter by chapter, as the information and suspense builds. The story is one of false identity, infidelity, multiple murders, an international crime syndicate, and the best and worst of cops. As the book took on a different character than others I’ve read, I began to thinkof it as a suspense novel rather than a mystery. Since I didn’t know the distinction, I looked it up. This is what I found. “… suspense: the main character may become aware of danger only gradually. In a mystery, the reader is exposed to the same information as the detective, but in a suspense story, the reader is aware of things unknown to the protagonist.” Since the reader is aware of Drago’s actions and Alexander is not, “The Guise of Another” is a suspenseful mystery.

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