Carrie Patel’s first novel, The Buried Life, is a dystopian mystery set in the underground city of Recoletta. Centuries before a disaster known only as the Catastrophe forced humanity to abandon the surface and build underground city-states. There they built a pseudo Victorian society based on order and class. Literature and art are freely disseminated, but history, philosophy, and technology are all strictly controlled.
Inspector Liesl Malone and her new partner, Rafe Sundar, are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy when two members of the aristocracy are found murdered. Patel draws the reader into her world primarily through the detectives and their investigation. World building is achieved piece-meal, and indeed, some elements are left entirely unexplained. Patel also uses the characters of Jane, a laundress for the wealthy, and a reporter, Frederick, to examine the society from different angles. Malone and Jane are the most developed characters though both make decisions at the end that are not out of character, but do feel slightly rushed.
The Buried Life is a good first novel with a decent mystery, and an interesting world. The characters are occasionally a little flat, and the concepts need fleshing out. In some ways the novel felt more like table setting, but I look forward to the sequel.
**Received copy from NetGalley for Review