THE BURYING PLACE continues Brian Freeman’s series featuring Duluth, Minnesota police lieutenant Jonathan Stride, picking up almost immediately from where IN THE DARK left off. Stride, seriously injured after the events in that tale, is recuperating at a secluded cabin in Itasca County, about an hour away from Duluth. Physically he is close to normal, though still hurting; emotionally, however, he is closing himself off from everyone, including Serena Dial, his soul mate.
Stride’s enforced sabbatical comes to an abrupt end when two crimes demand his immediate attention. He is drawn into one by Denise Sheridan, Itasca County’s deputy sheriff and a former colleague of Stride’s. An infant named Callie has been abducted from her home, and Sheridan needs Stride to head up the investigation. Sheridan has a conflict of interest, given that the missing infant is her niece, the child of her sister, Valerie, who is married to Marcus Glenn, a prominent local surgeon. Denise, to put it bluntly, cannot stand Marcus for many reasons, but there is a history of tension between the sisters as well. As the reasons, known and unknown, slowly unfold, it becomes clear that before the baby’s ultimate fate is determined, other significant secrets will have to be revealed as well.
The other crime involves a madman who is abducting women from the rural area outside of Duluth. When a rookie police officer named Kasey Kennedy stumbles across the fiend in the midst of murdering his latest victim, she tries but fails to apprehend him. The result is that Kennedy herself becomes the hunted, even as the murderer claims more victims. Maggie Bei, Stride’s second-in-command, attempts to find the killer before he strikes again, unaware that she is about to experience a major and unexpected occurrence in her own life. As Stride, Dial and Bei dig more deeply into their respective cases, they find that almost everyone involved is hiding secrets and is either deceiving, or being deceived, with potentially deadly results.
Freeman begins dropping explosive revelations early in THE BURYING PLACE, while saving a series of major ones for the climax. There is a tantalizing mystery at the heart of it all, one that goes much longer and deeper than expected. Oh, and that serial killer? This is one genuinely nightmarish individual. You will read a number of passages more than once since you might not believe your eyes the first time through. As for longtime readers of the series, much occurs here that will change the direction of future books.
There is something for both fans and newcomers in THE BURYING PLACE. But don’t even think about starting to read it without blocking out several hours. You won’t want to put this one down without finishing it.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on December 26, 2010