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An Unsettled Grave, by Bernard Schaffer

Maria is a book reviewer, editor, and proofreader, as well as a master of public health, master gardener, photographer, artist, and writer.

Book 2 in the Santero and Rein Trilogy


A True Page-Turner

I’ve read a lot of page-turners lately, but this is, by far, one of the best. I read An Unsettled Grave at the request of the author, Bernard Schaffer. As the second book in the Santero and Rein trilogy, the story is told in flashbacks, and explores PTSD and drug use among veterans, alcoholism, child abuse and neglect, and teenage bullies. It’s a who-done-it with characters who seem to step right off the page. The author’s background as a police detective lends unique authenticity to this story of an intriguing cold case.

The Main Characters

As a second-generation police officer, and sixteen-year veteran who has worked patrol, investigations, and narcotics, Mr. Schaffer, knows a bit about police work. This certainly enables him to create some very realistic characters.

First there is Carrie Santero, a new and talented county detective. Then there are her boss, chief of county detectives, Harv Bender, small town police chief, Steve Auburn, as well as her friend, and mentor, Jacob Rein. Only Jacob has any respect for her well-earned position.

New Case vs. Cold Case

When hunters find a small human foot that has obviously been there quite some time, Carrie is pulled off a rape case, and sent out to the boonies to investigate the cold case. Chief Bender doesn’t believe a newbie should be on the rape case where the violent rapist is reported to be a police officer. She proves herself by solving both cases.

A Small Human Foot is Discovered in the Woods

Schaffer has woven into the story the usual things said about professional women – including the supposition that she was promoted because she was sleeping with her boss. Through Carrie’s eyes, he examines two types of policemen: those who get to know the people in the community and help out where needed, and those who do little else but cherry-pick drunk drivers to make multiple DUI arrests for award plaques and free dinners from MADD.

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Some beautiful reminders for all of us were woven into this story. For example, “...The worst sin in this whole world is having a talent and not using it, especially if it’s something the rest of us need....” There is also some good trivia included. For example, the fact that the first motorcycle clubs were founded by World War II fighter pilot veterans.

Part of a Series, Yet Can Holds Its Own As a Stand-Alone Book

An Unsettled Grave works well as a stand-alone book, and it reveals Jacob’s background without re-telling the story from the first book. It was fast-paced and so compelling with its many twists and turns, I am convinced I will have to make time to read the first book in the series, The Thief of all Light, as well as the third book, Blood Angel, published May 26, 2020.

Book 2 in the Series

What makes The Grumpy Book Reviewer grumpy?

Oh, just the usual things. You know, split infinitives, a few typos — things that easily could have been caused by that evil spell correction that’s on all our computers. Still, a good proofreader/editor should have caught them. This important book deserved a better editor.

© 2021 Maria Logan Montgomery

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