Sunday, January 25, 2009

Buried Lies by Peter Rennebohm

Originally reviewed for Front Page Reviews

A good old-fashioned treasure hunt complete with coded messages, an intriguing mystery. Peter Rennebohm has written a book that takes us from WWII, to the Navajo rez, to the final destination. The book is particularly interesting for the bits and pieces of history and Navajo lore and beliefs interspersed throughout. Full of well-defined characters, are they really who they seem to be? That is the question.

The story begins simply enough, the main character, Augustus (Gus) Ivy, has gone to his barber for a haircut. Not usually an exciting moment in one’s life. But, Frank, the barber, is somewhat distracted while wielding the scissors. It appears he had been talking about the war and in particular his unit when he drifted off into memory. Gus was curious to hear his story however, and so Frank continues his tale, which includes a book sent to each surviving member of his unit by the parents of one of the soldiers who was killed in action. He also shows Gus a letter that came with the book, the last paragraph appearing to be an invitation to locate something buried within its pages and cover. Gus, a collector of books by the author, who also happens to be the mother of the downed soldier, decides to buy a box of books from Frank, including the book he was sent. Frank agrees, and with this seemingly innocuous purchase, the story takes off.

On reading the book, Gus feels it is definitely not one of her best, it seems choppy and not particularly full-fledged and the dust-jacket is different from others. It is at this time that Gus learns that Frank has been brutally killed and suspicions begin to arise. The book appears to have taken on a life of its own, and seemingly is of great importance to some very nasty people. It doesn’t appear to be a particularly valuable book in and of itself, so why is it becoming so important? Gus sets off with his dog following what might possibly be a clue and the action truly begins.

The mystery builds throughout the book and where it appears some things should be a bit obvious, they probably are not. The action heats up as others join in the hunt with and against Gus. There is a side story that takes place on the Navajo rez that is a nice break from the action, although serious in nature. Some characters are expendable and some are not, but the determination is not always as simple as it appears. A good mystery, the excitement of the race to solve the mystery and perhaps discover treasure is catching. In a way it is an enjoyable read regardless of bodies dropping throughout. Peter Rennebohm has authored two previous novels, “French Creek” and “Blue Springs” and I will be seeking them to read. I am happy to recommend this focused, yet layered book.

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