Series: Buried Life #1
Genres: Dystopia, Urban Fantasy
Published by Angry Robot on August 7, 2014
Reviewed by: Megan
The gaslight and shadows of the underground city of Recoletta hide secrets and lies. When Inspector Liesl Malone investigates the murder of a renowned historian, she finds herself stonewalled by the all-powerful Directorate of Preservation – Recoletta’s top-secret historical research facility.
When a second high-profile murder threatens the very fabric of city society, Malone and her rookie partner Rafe Sundar must tread carefully, lest they fall victim to not only the criminals they seek, but the government which purports to protect them. Knowledge is power, and power must be preserved at all costs…
In a future where bureaucracy and totalitarianism have supplanted capitalism as our national language, the city of Recoletta's own police force has a hard time getting permission to do its job. In Carrie Patel's THE BURIED LIFE everything is compartmentalized and strictly need-to-know, which makes solving a series of murders amongst the elite very difficult. Not that that would stop a couple of investigators looking for the truth.
Recoletta is predominantly built underground, though with Patel's references to 'surface streets' I sometimes had a hard time picturing the city. I thought Patel did an excellent job using description to fill in exposition at the start, and fortunately, the mystery captured me early on, thanks in part to Inspector Rafe Sundar, a charming thespian-turned-cop with a remarkable aptitude for improv. More actors should become real detectives. His people skills and enthusiasm make him the perfect partner for the world-weary, strong-willed Liesl Malone, and I only wish we got a chance to see more of their teamwork.
Though the narrative spends most of its time on the wealthier side of Recoletta, it's explored through the eyes of outsiders to that world of privilege - including a laundress who is well-acquainted with dirty laundry. Jane Lin, the other star of this book, stumbles over one of the crime scenes on her route, and turns out to have an uncanny knack for ferreting out information. Though she seems timid and innocent at the start, she has a spine of steel, and puts her strong mind to good use in investigating the rash of murders that are killing her clients. Her instincts are slightly compromised by the attentions of Roman Arnault, a 'consultant' for the Powers That Be, but Patel did a pretty good job of meeting, then subverting, then reverting my expectations with his character. Ultimately I was satisfied that their relationship was as complicated as it seemed.
Though the resolution comes on a little fast, with elements that strike me as an almost superfluous B-story, the ending of THE BURIED LIFE is satisfying, so that if this were the only book about Recoletta, I wouldn't feel cheated. Fortunately, it's not the last we'll hear of Inspector Malone or Roman Arnault, and I look forward to finding out what comes next.
- The Buried Life (Buried Life #1)
- Cities and Thrones (Buried Life #2) - forthcoming