Cover image for The burying field
The burying field
Abel, Kenneth.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : G.P. Putnam's Sons, [2002]

Physical Description:
291 pages ; 24 cm
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When four white teenagers desecrate an old slave burying ground, racial tensions explode and Danny Chaisson finds himself on the wrong side of a bitter struggle over land, power, and memory in a small Louisiana town. Hired by a wealthy real estate developer to protect his interest in a valuable piece of property, Danny discovers that even the past can't stay buried for long in the rich soil of the bayou country. As the violence spreads and more bodies surface, only Danny's determination to dig up this region's bloody past can stop a cycle of fear and hatred that seems as old as the land itself. With compelling characters and dead-on dialogue, The Burying Fieldis an enthralling crime novel.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

A slave burial ground, a down-and-out lawyer's office in a historic section of New Orleans, and a tiny Louisiana town immersed in racial tension are part of the atmospheric blend that Abel crafts so intriguingly in his second Danny Chaisson novel (after the superb Cold Steel Rain, 2000). Chaisson just can't seem to outrun his past as bagman to a Louisiana state politician. Years after he cleaned the stacks of cash from his safe and started to earn a precarious living as a lawyer for small-time collection agencies and sometime criminal cases, Chaisson still finds himself pursued by New Orleans highfliers convinced he has connections. This time, his ex-wife, a lawyer, links Chaisson to a leading real-estate developer with a problem. Vandals have desecrated a slave cemetery just north of Louisiana and all but killed the black man living next to the cemetery. The developer's concern: that this crime could taint the shopping mall he has planned for the site. Chaisson's job is to hold a finger up to public opinion. In the process, he wades into a gumbo of greed and bad dealing. Chaisson is fun to watch--his past seems to hang like humidity about him as he comically struggles to right himself with marriage and impending fatherhood. A mystery that manages to be both reflective and fast moving. Bill Ott.

Publisher's Weekly Review

In the second of his series featuring attorney Danny Chaisson (after 2000's Cold Steel Rain), Abel vividly evokes a Louisiana setting contemporary New Orleans in transition and its less progressive outlying areas. "This ain't the Old South," says developer Michael Tournier when he hires Danny as a "political consultant." But Danny learns that the New South is still beholden to its past, especially in St. Tammany Parish, where justice is slow for an old black man who was attacked by high school kids and lies in a coma waiting to die. He was trying to discourage the boys from desecrating a slave graveyard, a forgotten plot of land that is now the center of contention. Protests over the destruction of the graveyard, which doesn't appear on the parish maps, has effectively halted the building of a high-end residential/retail project that would have brought jobs and tax income to the area. Danny befriends the victim's wife and her grandson, pulls strings to get the State Historical Commission to evaluate the site and help protect it, and conducts his own investigation into the attack. When the archaeologist at the "burying field" uncovers the remains of a young woman missing since the 1970s, Danny has yet another death to look into, while the local authorities have a reason to dig up the entire plot, since it's now a crime scene. Abel's memorable, true-to-life characters play out a taut, multileveled story. His ability to paint his milieu with such depth and texture bodes well for future volumes in this series. (May 20) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Michael Tournier, New Orleans's premiere real estate developer, is ready to break ground for a shopping mall and housing complex near Mandeville when the discovery of a historic slave cemetery on the land halts the project. Frustrated, he hires attorney Danny Chaisson (from Cold Steel Rain) to scope out the attitudes of the locals. What Danny discovers is a town bogged down by dirty politics, 1930s racial attitudes, and a good-old-boy network led by the local sheriff. Long-festering resentment escalates into violence when white teenagers, high on beer and adrenaline, beat an elderly black man to death in the cemetery. This leads to drive-by shootings, the discovery of an earlier murder, arson, a staged highway accident, more murder, and suicide in the days that follow. In this, his fourth novel, Abel enhances an emotionally charged theme with strong plot, good characterization, and local color for a fascinating page-turner in the tradition of John Grisham and Greg Iles. Recommended for public libraries. Thomas L. Kilpatrick, Southern Illinois Univ Lib., Carbondale (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.