The Buried Life can best be described as a Sherlock Holmes type of murder mystery set in a post apocalyptic United States greatly resembling Victorian London. The setting is interesting, characters intelligent, and the book very easy to read. However, I wasn’t quite convinced of either the World Building or several of the characters.
Story: A great war has ravaged the United States and people have rebuilt society underground in the aftermath. A century after the war, there is an aristocracy (the whitenails) and council who rule the general populace of the city of Recoletta. Many antebellum books are banned and the society is tightly controlled. We follow two characters, Jane Lin (a laundress for the wealthy) and Malone (a detective), who find themselves embroiled in a set of murders that begin to unravel their society. Someone is keeping a secret and is willing to kill high profile council members to protect it. Jane and Malone will both set out to discover the heart of the murders, from very different angles, and in the process, risk their own lives. For something is very wrong at the heart of Recoletta.
Really, we’ve given two POVs for the story and the two women’s paths rarely cross. Laundress Jane and her sponsor Frederick (a reporter) stumble upon truths and situations while Liesl Malone and her new partner, Rafe Sunder, will use the deductive process to solve the case despite interference from Recoletta council members who don’t want their dirty laundry aired to the public.
I really liked the character of hard headed Malone, gentler Jane, and especially quirky new detective Sunder. At first, I thought this was going to be a series of books that would follow Malone and Sunder across murder cases in future volumes set in this interesting world. But by half way through the book, it became apparent that this wasn’t Malone’s/Sunder’s story but rather more about the Recoletta world.
I did have a few problems with believability. Especially that a tightly controlled society (with most books banned) mirroring industrialized Victorian London would have such educated masses. The language and syntax, despite being a century past 2014 common American English, sounded as if it could have been lifted from a modern day crime novel. As well, the Planet of the Apes type of ending was anticlimactic, to say the least. I wasn’t convinced in the least that it was worth all the murders.
But that said, I really did enjoy the Buried Life and it was a pleasant, quick read. For that reason, I can heartily recommend it to either mystery/thriller readers or to those who like a YA-type of dystopian story.
Reviewed from an ARC.