It seems that the majority of Canada’s writers live either on our East or West Coasts or in Southern Ontario. A recent call for mid-western Canadian writers turned up a few names, Ruth Chorney’s among them. Ms. Chorney lives in Kelvington, Saskatchewan, and Buried is her self-published book. (Ms. Chorney has also written a guest review for The Miramichi Reader here.)
Buried is the type of novel that could be considered a “cozy mystery” as it is written in a non-confrontational, easy-to-read style with no graphic depictions of crimes or sexual encounters. There is the occasional uttered profanity. However, Buried contains a few suspenseful moments that will have you reading ahead of yourself at times. Buried is not a “whodunnit” or is it a very deep mystery novel. But it is a good read.
The main protagonist is Tera whom we first meet in prison, convicted for the murder of her husband, although no body was found and the scant evidence was all circumstantial. As well, the testimony of a couple of witnesses was all the judge needed to hear to convict her. Perhaps from a legal point of view, Buried may not be authentic in that sense, but at any rate, Tera is in jail and that is all one needs to know.
There are many on Tera’s side, including Sue, a reporter and her lawyer who wants an appeal in the case. There are petitions circulating as well. Tera’s story is told in flashback style, beginning with her, at seventeen, meeting Tom, a man five years older than herself. Despite the warnings of her closest friend Allie, Tom and Tera hook up and the next thing you know –that’s right – Tera’s pregnant. Their marriage is a done deal, and soon, two sons are part of their lives on the farm in Saskatchewan. Cattle farmers will find the descriptions of farm life quite authentic, although it seems like a large operation like the McAllens’ with no regular hired hands to assist them, is questionable. Anyway. Tom McAllen, aside from being a farming workaholic, has become an alcoholic. Verbally abusive, but never physically so, life is a constant struggle for Tera. Then, one day Tom goes missing. Now, the real story begins as Tera is suspect number one, as it typically is in such cases. As they live fairly remotely, there are no other actual suspects.
While Buried is agreeably well written within an authentic rural Saskatchewan farm setting, a little more detail and a little more filling of story gaps (such as her estranged father, and her two sons lack of appearance after she is imprisoned, an examination of Tom’s private demons, etc.) would have made Buried a more complete and complex novel. However, do add it to your summer reading list! A Miramichi Reader “Pick”!
Buried was a High Plains Book Awards Finalist 2019. It can be purchased directly from the author at https://www.ruthchorney.ca/ or through Amazon.ca below.