Book review: ‘The Heavens May Fall’ by Allen Eskens

By LARRY BALLWAHN | Wilton

When a woman’s body is found in a dumpster in the upscale neighborhood of Kenwood, Detective Max Rupert and his partner Niki Vang are called to the scene. There is no identification, but all indications are that she was from the upscale neighborhood. Not only is the initial identification difficult for Max, but also the resemblance of the victim to his recently murdered wife adds an additional challenge. The inscription on the diamond earrings allows Rupert and Vang to identify the body as the wife of a prominent lawyer. The lack of blood at the scene indicates that she was murdered elsewhere. A search of her home establishes that she was stabbed there and allowed to bleed out.

Her husband, Ben Pruitt, is the logical suspect, though he was in Chicago at a conference. Even though he has an alibi, Pruitt feels he should play it safe and hire his former law partner to represent him. He and Max Rupert have a history that makes Ben fear that Rupert will exclude any other suspects and find a way to indict him. To a large extent, that proves true. Pruitt fears an indictment not only for his personal freedom, but also for their daughter, Emma, who has just gone through the traumatic experience of losing her mother.

There are other suspects. It turns out that Jennavieve Pruitt was having an affair. What if she had decided to drop the lover? Her sister, Anna Adler King, stood to gain sole control of a billion-dollar corporation upon her death. But as Ben Pruitt had feared, the focus proves to be on him. HIs attorney, Boady Sanden, believes his former law partner is incapable of the murder. When he had known the Pruitts, they had been the ideal couple, and there was Emma, the light of both their lives. Sanden believes Ben Pruitt at leastas much as Rupert seems not to.

While Rupert’s investigation is thorough, it is complicated by two things. The district attorney is rushing the trial for political reasons, and resemblance of the victim to his wife puts Rupert’s mind on that unsolved case more than it should have. Husbands are not to be involved in personal cases for good reason. Both circumstances prove to make the trial difficult.

Will Ben Pruitt be judged responsible for a murder he didn’t commit?

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