The buried life, by Carrie Patel

The buried life Book Cover The buried life
The buried life #1
Carrie Patel
Dystopian, mystery, science fiction
Angry Robot
Mars 3 2015

Recoletta is an underground city with only vague memories of how it came to be underground. Only a very select few are allowed to own or read history books, and there aren't that many of them to go around.  There aren't many books at all, but that's okay, because life in Recoletta is stable and quiet.  Or it was, before the first murder occured in the wrong part of town.

Inspector Liesl Malone is on the case, but it isn't long before it's taken away from her.  She's not from the posh neighborhood, and they have their own security force in place. Malone is clearly not invited to learn their secrets.  Which, of course, is a good enough reason to pursue the case anyway.

When a novel presents a world without, or with very restricted access to books, that's like the bat signal for political dystopia. It doesn't even require further comment.  In The buried life, we follow a handful of characters through an ominous series of events, never focusing on the background texture for very long at a time.  But it's there; you can tell.  You know it will zoom out, eventually, and let you know exactly what you're looking at.

Except - it doesn't, quite.  I enjoyed the read - it's a very entertaining adventure, the characters are bright and distinct, and the atmosphere seeps into every corner -  but oh, I wanted to know more.  This means, of course, that the novel has done a good job, because this is going to become a series, and readers like me will tag along to learn all the things.  I am super annoyed when I read the last page of a novel and still haven't answered all the questions - and sometimes, that really does suggest a flawed book.  I don't think this book is flawed at all - just, you know, somewhat on the annoying side of "What do you mean, you're not going to throw the entire history-of-the-world infodump at me immediately, even though I want it badly!".

As for the murder mystery plot, it's a satisfying pageturner.  I'm always relieved to get some investigation and procedural action with characters who aren't overly concerned with their own hard-boiledness.  At least, not all of them.  There's even a bit of romance tucked into the story, understated, but clearly visible all the same.

If you're even more crankily impatient than I am, you'll probably want to at least postpone this read until a sequel is out - but if you're not, and looking for approximately three hundred pages of good entertainment in the "Oops! We messed up the future!"-genre, then go for it. Go!

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