Review: Buried Lies – DI Gaby Darin #5 (Jenny O’Brien)

I had read Fallen Angel, number three in this series, last year. This one feels rougher than that one, and not as good a read. But first, a summary:

Hannah Thomas returns from a spa outing with a friend to find her fiance dead and her son missing. DI Gaby Darin and her team are called in to investigate. Could Hannah herself be the killer? Or is something from her past catching up with her?

There are bound to be some spoilery bits here, so consider yourself warned.

In book three, Darin is only an acting DI. Between then and now – in book four, I imagine, which I did not read – Darin has had “acting” dropped, and she’s now the boss for real, as it were, of her group. I find this a bit difficult, as Darin is not exactly the polished of stones: she is impuldive, curt, or even rude. She doesn’t seem to have any people skills or he ability to bridge the space between her crew and her superiors. I’ll give her a break on her relationship with Rusty, the medical examiner, because romantic relationships can be choppy waters, but she’s been mooning over him since book three, and I can’t help but think she would be better at this. Instead, she’s often snippy with him in a way that really puts a damper on things.

When Darin gets to the scene, she notes the dead guy (apparent suicide) says, “OK, missing kid.”, but there is zero urgency conveyed through this beginning, and crucial part of the investigation, either about the dead man or the missing child – a child who has a serious medical issue (type 1 diabetes, for which he wears an insulin pump. No frantic energy about searching nearby, in the event the kid was frightened by either the actions of the dead man, who is also a former cop, or by any other persons who might have been present. She doesn’t stay even a little while CSI starts going through the scene. She doesn’t pick up, it seems, that Hannah is not devastated by these events. All in all: she doesn’t seem to notice the things she should be, or doing/ordering the things that need to be done with quickness.

Since nothing is happening with urgency, it drags the rest of the book with it. There are far too many scenes where people are deciding what to have for dinner, or worrying about a colleague’s wedding. Far too much “X seemed like (something), but that wasn’t the case, here’s why: blah.” I don’t need a writer to tell me these things. I need them to show me these things, so as the characters go about their business, we can understand that Mal, for instance, generally doesn’t look like he’s paying attention, but actually is intensely focused.

Although, to be honest, nobody in this book but the villain seems to be laser focused on anything. I will give the book points for this: the villain doesn’t stand around opining on all the ways they set things up. They just say “it’s because of this thing” and then disappears, something I welcome.

This would keep you occupied on a plane or train or beach, but to me it’s a bi like cotton candy. Sure, you can eat it. But ultimately, it’s unsatisfying, and easily forgotten.

Two and a half stars, rounded down to two. I was disappointed in this, as I had expected things to get better, not worse, from the three stars I gave Fallen Angel.

Thanks to HQ Digital and NetGalley for the reading copy.

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