Brian Freeman’s stunning debut (Immoral) made quite a splash as it introduced crime detectives Jonathan Stride and Serena Dial. The two books in the series that followed, however, were largely forgettable. If the fourth novel (In The Dark) reminded us that Freeman is still in the game, then The Burying Place may indicate that he is on top of his game.
The fifth in the series, The Burying Place finds Lt. Stride of the Duluth PD still recovering from the injuries sustained from the previous book’s climax. Not all injuries, the reader learns, are physical. Something has changed for Stride. He knows it. Serena Dial, a fellow detective and live-in girlfriend, knows it. The changes have taken their toll on the relationship.
Unexpectedly, a colleague from a small Minnesota town requests that Stride put aside his recovery time and help with a missing kid case. He agrees, thinking that the distraction will actually help his mind and body.
Not far away in the snow-covered farmlands, a serial killer is on the loose, targeting women. One of Stride’s associates from Duluth nearly becomes the next victim as she literally stumbles into him after getting lost on a country road in dense fog.
Fans of the genre can probably guess that the two storylines will intersect at some point. They do. But the plot, though wildly intricate and interwoven, is also very believable. That is what makes this novel stand out. The reader does not have to suspend too much reality to get lost in this engaging tale.
There’s lots of sleeping around, plotting, and backstabbing amongst the secondary characters. The feeling of lust is not exactly lost on the primary characters, either. Some scenes are truly gripping and suspenseful, and there are two big surprises in The Burying Place: the ending, and the about-face in the main characters’ personal lives. Either way, fans of Freeman will say, “I didn’t see that coming.”
Pros: Wonderfully interconnected yet believable plot; great surprise ending; plenty of fooling around
Cons: Plenty of fooling around; some uncharacteristically bad choices made by the series’ hero and supporting cast
Bottom Line: Who knew rural Minnesota could be so fascinating?
RECOMMENDED? Yes. Highly.