Buried Memory by Adam J. Wright (2016)
I went back for a second helping of Adam J. Wright’s urban fantasy series, Harbinger P.I. and was not disappointed. Buried Memory is certainly an appropriate title that links all of the strands of the story’s plot. It’s about Alec’s buried memories and the physical representation of buried memories—the dead interred in their graves. While I will do my best not to spoil too much, be warned that you need to read this series in order. If you like urban fantasy novels that feature private investigators, give this series a try. The first book in the series is Lost Soul, and you can read my review here. As of this writing, both Lost Soul and Buried Memory are available for Kindle Unlimited subscribers, so if you’re on a budget but have this subscription, you can “read for free”.
Buried Memory picks up about two weeks after the beginning of Lost Soul, and so not much time has passed since the end of book one. First thing you want to know about this book—a lot happens, particularly in the second half of the book. If you like your fiction to be fast-paced with reveals you didn’t really see coming and that leave the main characters in a much different place from where they started the story, you’re going to like this book. Second thing you need to know is that while a lot happens in the book, the first half of the book may seem a little slow and like the plot doesn’t really know where it’s going. Trust me on this. You don’t want to stop reading. Keep going. You will not regret it and your patience and investment in the story will be rewarded.
But let me back up and start from the beginning. The story begins with Amy, the Sheriff’s Deputy, coming to Alec’s office. She wants to hire him to investigate a disturbance at the local cemetery. As she explains the case to Alec, we learn that Amy happens to be the daughter of the Sheriff, Big John Cantrell, who really doesn’t like Alec. Or I should say, doesn’t like him at all. As Amy tells Alec about the problem she needs him to investigate, we learn that Amy’s mother was killed by the preternatural investigator who worked in Dearmont prior to Alec’s arrival. The body of Amy’s mother, along with two other bodies, were somehow disinterred from their graves, and Amy asks Alec to find out what caused this to happen and put a stop to it. Alec takes the case, and quite quickly and easily, he discovers the problem and solves it. To be honest, as I was reading, I thought the case Amy brings to Alec was just the superficial case because of how fast it gets wrapped up, and that the deeper underlying mystery would be to find out more about how Amy’s mother died as well as the preternatural investigator who killed her.* Instead, the case is a pivot toward one of the mysteries established in book one of the series—what really happened to Alec in Paris, how did he know to send a package to himself in Dearmont containing an ancient artifact before he was reassigned to the small town after the Paris fiasco, and what is the purpose of the artifact? Before any of those questions can be answered, Alec is summoned to London and the headquarters for the Society of Shadows by his father. The ensuing action wastes no time in coming full circle, returning Alec to Dearmont and showing exactly how the initial case brought to him by Amy ties into the larger plot of the story. Further still, everything that happens in the second half of the novel complicates Alec’s world, to the point that at the end of the book, he questions if he really knows who he is.
Now to talk about the developments within the supporting cast of characters. In my review of Lost Soul, I wrote about how the relationship between Alec and his father, Thomas Harbinger, would be significant moving forward. I wasn’t wrong. Buried Memory offers an up-close look at the relationship between father and son, and while you get some answers, you’re also going to have a lot more questions about them at the end of the book. Mallory, Alec’s friend and the Final Girl of a mass murderer, makes an appearance in the story and Felicity makes her return. By the end of the book, both supporting characters will have undergone changes to their character, and while I don’t know if I would say they are more fully developed, they are perhaps a little more interesting at the end of book two (though to be fair, I was already intrigued by Mallory; the jury is still out on Felicity). There’s also an easter egg in the book that made me smile and wonder if Wright has a degree in English lit. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but a somewhat obscure author makes an appearance in the story while Alec is in London, and I’m super-curious to find out if this same author will turn up again in future books. If you have read the first book in this series or are wondering about the evolution of the supporting characters, know that you will see your favorites return and that Alec’s world will be further populated by new arrivals that deserve their screen time.
I love reading series fiction and one of the qualities a good series needs to have is that the books in the middle need to keep developing the world of the protagonist and giving him or her opportunities to grow and evolve while facing new challenges. As the second book in the Harbinger, P.I. Series, Buried Memory does its job. Not only do we learn a few more bits and pieces about Alec and his back story, but we also are beginning to have reasons to be invested in and care about the supporting characters (I’m specifically looking at Mallory here, and even Thomas has me wanting to find out more about him and his motives). In other words, this book gave me no reason to want to stop reading the series and every reason to want to continue. What more can I ask for? Only that the third book in this series finds its way to my e-reader post haste.
Have you read Buried Memory or the Harbinger, P.I. series? What do you think?
*Special Note: One note for readers who intend to continue the series. When I finished reading Buried Memory, I thought that the first part of the story involving the death of Mary Cantrell was more of a catalyst, a way to get book two started. I got this impression because of the way Alec is summoned to London and a whole different story begins. Now that I have read book three in the series, Dark Magic, I can see that Buried Memory and Dark Magic are like companion novels, where the outer frame of the novels is the story of Mary Cantrell and the inner frame is the events that take Alec to London and conclude once he returns to Dearmont. I’m adding this note here as a way of letting you know that the events that take place in the first half of Buried Memory are important and you should file them away in your mind because you’ll need them for later.