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BURIED SECRETS by Joseph Finder: Book Review

Nick Heller calls himself a “private spy.” It’s not exactly a private investigator; it seems he’s more concerned with finding out secrets about the rich and powerful.  And he does a good job.

In Buried Secrets, Nick  is approached by an old friend, Marshall Marcus, to rescue Marshall’s  teenage daughter Alexa from kidnappers. Nick will do almost anything for Marshall, who gave Nick’s mother a job after her husband ran away to avoid being jailed for financial crimes, but he realizes soon enough that Marshall is holding something, or several somethings, back.  However, Nick believes that Marshall truly wants his daughter rescued, even as Nick believes that Marshall’s cold-as-ice wife couldn’t care less about the safety of her stepdaughter.

In addition to Alexa’s abduction, Marshall is facing another problem. His firm lost billion of dollars in investments through the embezzlement of a former employee. Reluctant to admit his firm’s bankruptcy, he had borrowed additional billions from drug dealers and armament dealers in a vain attempt to recoup the funds, and now he’s in a deeper hole than before.  So if it’s money the kidnappers want, his daughter Alexa is really in a tight spot.

This is the second time that Alexa has been abducted, although in the first instance she was simply picked up from a shopping mall, driven around Boston for several hours, and then released.  There was no ransom demand then, and no explanation for the kidnapping ever surfaced.

The more deeply Nick delves into the case, the more secrets he uncovers. Why, in the first place, does Alexa’s best friend Taylor lie about what happened on the night the two of them went out to a Boston nightclub and Alexa disappeared?  Why is FBI agent Gordon Snyder doing everything in his power to keep Nick off the case?  Why does the story of how Marshall met his wife change with every telling?

Nick’s only friend at the Boston office of the FBI is his former lover, Diana Madigan. She’s willing to use the information Nick shared with her to help him, but she is not involved in the search for Alexa.  However, Diana does tell Nick that the reason Gordon Snyder is so wary of Nick’s interest in the case is that the FBI is doing a major investigation into Marshall Marcus’s firm and financial crimes.  And Gordon is afraid that looking for Alexa will compromise that investigation.

As Nick continues his investigation, it gets more and more dangerous.  His loft is broken into, he’s tasered, and still his client won’t give him all the information he needs.  What is Marshall continuing to hold back, and why?

Buried Secrets is the second in the Nick Heller series. The characters are really well-written, portrayed with their human faults and foibles, and Nick is a fascinating protagonist.  Joseph Finder has a very impressive resume that includes a master’s degree from Harvard’s Russian Research Center, and his knowledge of behind-the-scenes international deals seems very accurate.  This is definitely a series that I hope will continue.

You can read more about him at his web site.