Aging and stricken with Alzheimer’s, Gus Henderson’s pretty convincing when he tells his home health aide that he killed a man many years ago – a big man – and buried him under a tree in a nearby park. It’s even more convincing when Detective Darlene O’Hara looks into it: Gus Henderson had been a criminal, and his former partner hasn’t been heard from in recent years. But the excavation uncovers the body of a ten-year-old boy, buried with care with some unusual items. Peter De Jonge’s Buried on Avenue B takes the tenacious O’Hara on a complicated path to the ultimate resolution.
Modern with a noir edge, Avenue B’s O’Hara is a flawed (of course!) but female protagonist with an interesting backstory. She’s in her mid-30s and has a 19-year old son (Axl Rose O’Hara – just his name says a lot!). She also has an 8 a.m. vodka habit and a streak of compassion a mile wide. The plot’s interesting and there is a surprising twist related to the boy’s death, but the best thing about the book is the characterization: all the characters, to the smallest walk-on parts, feel real. No cardboard here. It’s not a pulse-pounding page-turner, but still, a pleasure to read.