It's so nice to have Joseph Finder back with us after too long an absence. Finder introduced "private spy" Nick Heller in 2009 with the release of VANISHED. BURIED SECRETS is that book's greatly anticipated successor and his best work to date by far. It's a smart, sharp and fast-paced novel that's part thriller, part mystery, and all-entrancing.
It's a smart, sharp and fast-paced novel that's part thriller, part mystery, and all-entrancing.
Finder is one of those individuals with an encyclopedic knowledge of matters high and low --- from high finance to rock music and everything in between --- who is blessed with the ability to explain complex subjects in common denominator terms. He also incorporates a grand number of such topics into fast-paced works of fiction, as he has demonstrated on numerous occasions. Finder pulls out all the stops in BURIED SECRETS by starting the clock ticking quite early in the game and amplifying the sound of the countdown as the story speeds to a close.
The book begins with the abduction of Alexa Marcus, a privileged but troubled teenager whose father, Marshall Marcus, is a world-famous financier and a close friend of Heller's. Marcus brings Heller into the mix when Alexa fails to return home after a night of partying. When Marcus receives a ransom message threatening Alexa's life, the situation becomes even more serious, in part because Marcus is not being entirely honest or truthful with Heller concerning a number of issues. Heller is the very definition of an independent contractor: utilizing all means, legal and otherwise, to locate Alexa and bring her home safely.
What neither man knows, at least initially, is that the thug holding Alexa is a brutal sadist who does not care as much about a share of the ransom as he does in watching Alexa die slowly and painfully, no matter what his own employer wants or expects. Heller makes new enemies on all sides of the law (and renews an old acquaintance) while pulling in favors and creating new obligations among assorted contacts and experts. Some of them undoubtedly are derived from Finder's real-world Rolodex, and all are almost as interesting as Heller himself. By the time one reaches the explosive conclusion, readers will feel as if they have been rode hard and put down, as they say in my end of the country --- and will love every second, every word of it.
Finder explores all sorts of arcane topics in BURIED SECRETS --- high finance, black-ops funding, rock music, electronic surveillance technology and bladed weaponry, among others. He does this so well that even if you are not interested in one or more of these topics at the start of the novel, you will want to know more about each and every one of them before you have reached the end. What you will want most, though, is more Heller and more Finder. Hopefully, both will be back much sooner rather than later.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on June 21, 2011