Review: The Buried Life by Carrie Patel

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Publisher: Angry Robot
Publishing Date: July 2014
ISBN: 9780857665225
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4.3/5

Publisher Description: 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 – Ricoletta’s top-secret historical research facility.

Review: I agree with the author. The cover art is good.

This novel started out really, really slow and I almost gave up on it. Kind of felt like following a real boring version of Holmes and Watson.

Malone and Sundar, having recently been teamed, are following a string of murders that are occurring to the ruling class (whitenails) of Recoletta. Recolletta is ruled by the Council that presides over pretty much everything. From the city guards, factories, trade and even the Municpal Police (inspectors). The council approves any “contracts” that the officers can work on. This novel was high with intrigue that swirls within the body politic.

The story line was solid as was the character development. Liesl Malone comes off as kind of an unemotional, directed woman without too much concern for humanistic frailties. Much like Sherlock. Rafe Sundar, a rookie investigator with scads of charm and personality, is a former improv actor turned detective. He balances Malone much like Watson to Sherlock.

There is never any clarity through most of the novel, about where this is taking place in relation to time and place. South America is mentioned at one point, so you begin to mentally sift through any tidbit of information that tells you whether or not your in the future, past or an alternate universe. When those questions are finally answered it becomes apparent that this was central to the plot although minor in impact. Perhaps knowing your relative place in the context of world building may have helped me enjoy the novel more. Kind of an awareness while reading thing.

I get a kind of Victorian era/steampunk vibe without the steam. There are trains and carriages, torches and illumination lights. This would have been a great story with an infusion of steampunk, even of a limited sort. Instead we get a kind of dystopian post-apocalyptic look set in the mundane future. There were some grammatical and spelling errors that need some cleaning up as well.

This was a very well written novel. Attention to the logic of not only writing but writing a detective novel was superb. Behind this detecting logic there lurks an obvious perpetrator but you always seem to know that that would be too easy. The fun is in determining the who, and seeing if subsequent events play out in your favor. I like a novel that challenges you AND gives you enough information to figure it out. Despite my infernal nitpicks, I loved this novel and look forward to Ms. Patel’s next.

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