Murder Beneath the Buried Sky
Review: Set in the near future following an apocalyptic event that left the surface of the earth radioactive, a young man living in the last surviving community of humans in caves underground is accused of murdering his father in Murder Beneath the Buried Sky, a novella of suspense by Keith Hartman.
21-year-old Calvin was the first child born in the community after moving into the caves. Estranged from his father — one of the founders and manager of supplies — Calvin lives a quiet life. That is until his father is murdered, and the council of elders accuses him of the crime. On the run and determined to prove his innocence, Calvin tries to understand the motive for his father's murder, which he believes will lead him to the real culprit.
The storyline in Murder Beneath the Buried Sky captures the reader's imagination, and while the ending is not entirely a surprise, there are a few interesting and unexpected twists on the pathway there. The author has a good eye for visual detail, creating a realistic environment for the action to take place in caves beneath the earth's surface, one that enhances the tension felt by Calvin in his search for the truth. And given the characters' ages — some are adults but most of the principals are teenagers, Calvin being the oldest at 21 — and, to some degree, the plot itself, it would seem an ideal book for young adults … except that the language used is not appropriate for this audience.
The most serious drawback to the book, however, is a backstory involving the community's diminishing supplies. The founders, who believed a catastrophe was drawing near, were prescient in locating a site for survivors, and stocking it with supplies to last a number of years. No one, of course, expected the surface to remain inhospitable for so long, more than two decades now, so while rationing is a way of life, supplies are still rapidly dwindling. Yet none of the residents seem to be overly concerned. It's an important plot point related to the motive, but it's awkwardly handled, or possibly insufficiently developed … and in a story that is otherwise believably crafted, this aspect to it is not altogether credible.
Acknowledgment: the author provided a copy of Murder Beneath the Buried Sky for this review.
Review Copyright © 2011 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Murder Beneath the Buried Sky:
— ♦ —
Murder Beneath the Buried Sky by Keith Hartman
Publisher: Pyramid Press
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: August 2011
List Price: $9.95
— ♦ —
Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
Mysterious Reviews is a Division of
The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books
and a Business Unit of the
Omnimystery Family of Mystery Websites