All We Buried
By Elena Taylor
A Sheriff Bet Rivers Mystery #1
Crooked Lane Books, 2020
For fans of Julia Keller and Sheena Kamal, All We Buried disturbs the long-sleeping secrets of a small Washington State mountain town.
Interim sheriff Elizabeth “Bet” Rivers has always had one repeat nightmare: a shadowy figure throwing a suspicious object into her hometown lake in Collier, Washington. For the longest time, she chalked it up to an overactive imagination as a kid. Then the report arrives. In the woods of the Cascade mountain range, right in her jurisdiction, a body floats to the surface of Lake Collier. When the body is extricated and revealed, no one can identify Jane Doe. But someone must know the woman, so why aren’t they coming forward?
Bet has been sitting as the interim sheriff of this tiny town in the ill-fitting shoes of her late father and predecessor. With the nightmare on her heels, Bet decided to build a life for herself in Los Angeles, but now it’s time to confront the tragic history of Collier. The more she learns, the more Bet realizes she doesn’t know the townspeople of Collier as well as she thought, and nothing can prepare her for what she is about to discover.
All We Buried by Elena Taylor is a gem of a novel that immediately goes on my favorites list. It’s a captivating murder mystery, but like an iceberg, there’s much more underneath than what you see on the surface. All We Buried is a multifaceted novel, rich in character depth and complexity of storyline. The writing is tight and flows smoothly without a single word being wasted. From the very first page, I found this story hard to put down.
Through vivid setting, background and foreshadowing, the author envelops readers in the atmospheric feel of Collier, Washington. Collier was formerly a mining town built around a high-altitude glacial lake, with a past that refuses to stay in the past. Lake Collier, with its frigid and dangerously deep waters, is so intricately woven into the threads of this novel that it literally becomes a major character.
Sheriff Bet Rivers is an appealing and relatable lead character. The story begins around six months after Bet, having left a promising career with the LAPD, became Collier’s interim sheriff upon the death of her father. She comes across as very human in her desire to be accepted, to prove herself worthy, and in her feelings of inadequacy when it comes to solving a homicide, all complicated by a deputy who is running against her in the coming election.
So many elements combine to make this a riveting story – decades-old family secrets … underwater rivers and fissures … fascinating history of the area … a scientist’s discovery of a Jane Doe floating in the lake that triggers Bet’s recurring nightmares of another body slipping into the icy waters … legends involving a buried train filled with miners. The story is well crafted, with layers slowly peeled back. The pacing is pure genius, slow but steady at first as we get familiar with the people and Lake Collier background, then picking up steam and riveting suspense as the investigation progresses. The conclusion is very satisfying, with the promise of much more to come in this series. All We Buried is an incredible read for mystery lovers everywhere.
Very highly recommended.
I received a copy of this book through Great Escapes Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
Note: Readers will find a little mild profanity.
Elena Taylor spent several years working in theater as a playwright, director, designer, and educator before turning her storytelling skills to fiction. Her first series, the Eddie Shoes Mysteries, written under the name Elena Hartwell, introduced a quirky mother/daughter crime-fighting duo. With All We Buried, Elena returns to her dramatic roots and brings readers a much more serious and atmospheric novel. Located in her beloved Washington State, Elena uses her connection to the environment to produce a forbidding story of small-town secrets and things that won’t stay buried.
Elena is also a senior editor with Allegory Editing, a developmental editing house, where she works one-on-one with writers to shape and polish manuscripts, short stories, and plays. If you’d like to work with Elena, visit www.allegoryediting.com.
When she’s not writing or coaching writing, her favorite place to be is at the farm with her horses, Jasper and Radar, or at her home, on the middle fork of the Snoqualmie River in North Bend, Washington, with her husband, their dog, Polar, and their cats, Coal Train and Cocoa. Elena holds a B.A. from the University of San Diego, a M.Ed. from the University of Washington, Tacoma, and a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia.