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The Burying Field    by Kenneth Abel order for
Burying Field
by Kenneth Abel
Order:  USA  Can
Signet, 2003 (2002)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Though Kenneth Abel's theme (well-intentioned white lawyer caught up in racial tension in a small Southern town) is not especially new, his thriller is well-crafted, and his characters engaging. I particularly liked his hero, lawyer Danny Chaisson; Danny's tough and very pregnant wife, special agent Mickie Vega; and an older black lady, Etta Jackson, who's seen it all before and dispenses solace in the form of food and herbal remedies, despite her own family crises.

Danny's hired as a political consultant by wealthy property developer Michael Tournier (whose lawyer is his ex-wife Helen) to look into a situation in St. Tammany Parish that might damage his company's reputation - an attack on an elderly black man, Caryl Jackson, by local white boys at a historic slave cemetery, a burying field. Danny's friend, cynical community activist Jabril Saunders, goes with him to talk to the Jackson family, which includes Caryl's wife Etta and his angry grandson DeWayne. The old man is in a coma, Etta saying 'Those white boys killed him. Just takin' him a while to realize it, is all.'

The sheriff is stereotypical, there's a Ku Klux Klan connection, as well as a link to dark deeds in the past, and Danny's persistence in seeking the truth soon puts his and others' lives at risk. Luckily, he is able to get some help by digging deep into shady connections from his own past and calling in old debts. Reading The Burying Field has made me want to spend more time with Danny and company. Luckily, I can go back to read Cold Steel Rain, and I hope to see more in the series.

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