Lesley Welsh takes us through the title burial right away. Benny Cohen is the hastily-interred corpse. Sam(antha) Riley, in league with her old friend, Joe, as well as her employer (and lover), Monica Cohen, wife of the victim, are the perps. Sam, it turns out is also the protagonist and the narrator of most of the book’s key chapters. She’s a hard-ass lady with hard-ass background–soldier, bouncer, and more. But she’s got heart and tender side which makes her as vulnerable as it does admirable and likable while she goes about trying to clean up the mess she helps create in the opening pages.
Benny Cohen, we soon understand, was an ugly wretch of a gangster who deserved elimination. We also soon understand that he left behind a son who knows and understands far more about real cops and robbers and human nature than any eleven-year-old should. We soon understand as well that Benny left behind a host of enemies who will soon line up to fill the power vacuum he leaves behind. Not to mention the money.
Between all this and the cops she must fend off, Welsh has given Samantha Riley a Herculean stack of labors. And those are just the obvious ones. As the action unfolds, secrets, including a few of Sam’s own, jump out of the graves, from behind the arrases, and from under the beds. Assaults and surprises leap at her–and the reader–from all directions. And the language, as with the best crime writers like Chandler, does as much as the plot to keep things moving and suspenseful. Witness Sam at the funeral of the man she’s just whacked:
I was uncomfortable with the tradition of mourners heaving a spadeful of dirt on the coffin. . . [H]aving already buried the guy once, I had no appetite for taking part in the rerun.
Even in such a whirlwind of complications, none of them seem contrived, as so often is the case with crime novelists who strain to keep the trivial seem significant just to pretend things are happening. Welsh’s events all grow out of the action quite naturally. Just as important as the action–again, as in the best crime novels–the primary complications emerge from the character and morality issues of this much-more-than-a-thriller.
I can promise You won’t find a better read than The Truth Lies Buried for many a moon.