Review of THE BURYING FIELD by Kenneth Abel
G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2002
It seems like a simple case. A Louisianna developer hires lawyer Danny Chaisson to make sure he doesn't get into trouble about some land he ownes--land where an African American man was assaulted by a group of white teens. Chaisson needs the money and agrees to take the case but what he finds is anything but simple. Instead, he finds a slave burial-ground, a 20 year-old murder, the Klan, and a sheriff who can't seem to find enough evidence when white suspects are concerned but moves quickly where blacks are suspected.
With the help of his ATF agent-wife Mickie, and his African American friend Jabril, Chaisson soon learns far more than the sheriff ever admitted to knowing. But knowing isn't the same as putting criminals in jail. And Chaisson needs to worry about staying alive long enough to do anything about the crimes he discovers.
Author Kenneth Abel writes a compelling novel filled with danger and insights into human nature. Chaisson's attempts to find the truth despite an entire society that seems designed only to keep secrets kept me on the edge of my seat.
For me, the use of a fairly stereotyped small-town southern setting with racist antagonists and a corrupt sheriff weakened what was otherwise a fine novel. Too, Abel's decision to include a scene with only villains gave away too much of the mystery, eliminating the delightful surprise the reader feels when we finally discover who is ultimately behind the evil doings.
THE BURYING FIELD is an exciting and page-turning book that falls just short of being truly powerful.
Purchase THE BURYING FIELD from Amazon.com (hardback).