Angry Robot press brings Carrie Patel’s image of a world underground in the new book The Buried Life. Inspector Liesl Malone dwells in the underground city of Recoletta. After a great unnamed catastrophe, humanity began to dwell in underground cities and only the poorest or those who do not care about social stature even travel above ground. In a society where knowledge is power, secrets are kept often to the point of murder. When members of the Council begin to die under mysterious circumstances, Malone and her partner investigate. The investigation is quickly closed to them, however, and as in any good detective story Malone cannot give up the mystery. Jane Lin, a washerwoman, witnesses some of the horrors and quickly finds herself caught up in a dangerous situation. Roman Arnault, a man with a shady past and difficult but uppercrust reputation takes a liking to Jane, things become darker than she could ever imagine.
Carrie Patel masters the dialogue between her characters as if she was already preparing the screenplay for The Buried Life. Malone and Jane speak as would be expected and the wordplay between Arnault and Jane is often stunning. The mystery is unraveled slowly, reaching to a very unexpected reveal at the end of the book. However, Patel lacks many world building details in much of the book. This requires the the reader to put together the images and concepts of a world that is strangely alien. Patel’s underground world feels Victorian and often has elements that make the book seem Steampunk. One can argue, however that this lack of detail simply forces the reader to be more engaged and imaginative; something that much of modern fiction lacks.
The Buried Life is a quick read and certainly something that mystery lovers and avid readers will enjoy.
The Buried Life is available from Angry Robot Press July 29, 2014.