‘Buried Secrets’ delivers suspenseful plot twist

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“Buried Secrets” by T.J. Brearton is a book that you shouldn’t read late at night.

One of the latest books by the Lake Placid author is an intense thriller that keeps the reader on edge until the last chapter.

The protagonist, Brett Larson, is a failed journalist turned construction worker turned new father to be who hasn’t given up his dream of becoming a novelist. He and his wife, Emily, just moved into a house in the Adirondacks and in their attempt to live closer to nature (e.g. to dig up a garden plot by hand using only a shovel) Brett finds human remains. The discovery sets off a cascade of events–a criminal investigation and a media circus all causing Brett’s creative imagination to go into overdrive.

Meanwhile, in New York City, an MTA worker, James Russo, can’t quite leave his criminal past where he would like it to stay–in the past. He has a young child at home and a partner he loves and he would do anything to protect his family. Anything. The reader is introduced to Russo when he is arrested after failing to pay an old fine. Because of his prior arrests and because he can’t pay the fine, he is sent to Rikers Island to begin serving time.

The setting itself is a character and feels authentic to readers who know the Adirondacks. The isolation that Brett and Emily feel is magnified by the wilderness around them and Russo experiences the true Adirondacks when he travels north and soon after stepping out of a car, gets bitten by black flies.

“Buried Secrets” is proof of an author’s maturation over time. Compared to “Dark Kills” (Published in 2015, reviewed Aug. 23 and highly recommended), Buried Secrets (published in 2017) is a better written book with less plot holes and more character development. It feels like the author committed to writing a finite thriller and never veered from that goal. But he didn’t sacrifice quality writing for the genre.

There are still a few parts of the book that don’t satisfy–there is an anagram that never quite fulfills its potential as a clue to the buried bones, and one of the characters, Detective Morales, never gets enough page time for the reader to form an allegiance to him. But those are minor glitches.

For the most part, Brearton delivers exactly what the reader wants–a suspenseful story throughout with a final plot twist that is satisfying at the end.

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