In 1954 two-year old David disappears on a quiet Maryland street when his father, Sam, is briefly distracted. The kidnapping of young David shatters his small family – Sam, Maureen, and young son James. When baby Dylan joins the family soon after the kidnapping the family is already disconnected and cold. Ultimately abandoned by their parents the two young brothers must find a new way to survive. Their future won’t be easy; they will face heartbreak, bullying, racism, suicide and the constant anguish of a broken family. Buried Treasure is an emotionally trying mystery and will draw the reader deep inside the heartache of the Paxton family. One of the most intense and realistic mysteries I have read, this book belongs on the to-read list of every mystery fan.
The pace of Buried Treasure starts out a little bit slow. The first three chapters are mostly used to set-up the plot, the characters and the complications to come. At times it can read a little tedious but please persist because once chapter four begins the story is intense. Once the story picks up it grabs hold of the readers’ heart and it never lets go. There are times when the tragedy feels so real and so powerful that the reader can feel a strong personal connection to the grief. There are other times when Downs lightens the mood by delicately infusing slight humor and sensitivity. This is a novel about the bonds of family and trying to find a way to endure through even the most challenging of circumstances.
James and Dylan Paxton, the brothers, as well as the supporting characters were believable and authentic. James’ torment over the kidnapping of his baby brother, his father’s alcoholism and his mother’s abandonment felt very genuine. Dylan, after being born into a shattered family, had only known hurt and pain. He always sought love and safety despite being tormented by social stigma and being cast as a social outcast. On a constant search for healing and identity, James struck out against the world and Dylan clung close to his older brother. The anguish that defines the characters of Buried Treasure consumes not only the characters, but the reader as well. It is impossible to read this novel and not connect, on a deeply emotional level, with this mysterious tragedy. It feels as though the only salvation for these brothers is to answer the questions, “What happened to David? Who kidnapped him? Why did it have to happen?” At the core of it all is a deep family secret and one man’s suicide may be the answer to saving them all.
When James and Dylan finally come face-to-face with a terrible family secret, will they finally be able to heal, put the past behind them, and move on? Or will the enduring scars a family tragedy continue to collect victims? Buried Treasure provides the reader with lasting lessons of love and family, the bonds of brotherhood and faith as well as grief and healing. Downs writes with such emotion and sensitivity that it would be challenging to not bond deeply with his characters and novel. The ending of the novel is a riveting, and fitting, surprise. I highly recommend picking up a copy of Buried Treasure. It may leave you emotionally exhausted but definitely not disappointed.
Review by Ashley LaMarClosed the Cover