The Buried Life - Carrie Patel

Much thanks to my local library system for stocking this, since otherwise I would have bought it and boy, would I have been annoyed.

 

Anyway, our story is set in the city of Recoletta, which is partly underground and partly not, a living situation that came about after some kind of apocalyptic event occurred. The city is run by the 'whitenails', a name which is apparently based on the idea that only folks who don't work with their hands can afford to grow the requisite fingernails and maintain them, two of whom are murdered in quick succession.

 

One of the main characters is a police inspector (Liesl Malone), who is initially tasked with investigating the murders but then warned off - the way things work is that the police get a contract to investigate certain crimes, so no contract = no investigation. Malone is also given a new partner at the start of this investigation, though it's not particularly clear if she is supposed to be the Detective With The Troubled Past or if that's his job. The other main character is a woman (Jane Lin) who does laundry for the whitenails, which naturally gives her the opportunity to eavesdrop on stuff and be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

 

Problem is, I was left very much not caring what happened to anyone - if I had to choose an adjective to describe Malone in particular, I think I'd go for 'bloodless'. There doesn't really seem to be much effort made by the author to flesh out the characters or why we should connect with them, while the choice of victims in our murder means that there's little chance of us feeling sympathetic for them either.

 

In the end, it's revealed that the murders are part of a conspiracy within the ruling elite, but since one lot of dislikeable folks is replaced in power with another lot, I was left struggling to see why I ought to be at all bothered. Likewise there is also a reveal towards the end of the book that this is a future USA, but again I was left unmoved.

 

I dare say this is the first of a series, as is often the way, but not for me...