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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Sunday, June 9, 2024

What We Buried by Robert Rotenberg

(26. - 1209.) What We Buried by Robert Rotenberg - Daniel Kennicott is walking warily home with fresh Italian groceries when a black SUV charges towards him. He runs for the safety of his home but steps from his door he is shot in the top of his right arm.

He had just been to Gubbio, a medieval hilltown in Umbria. He had gone at the request of the Toronto Police Department after meeting with the head of the homicide squad Ari Greene and Toronto Police Chief Nora Bering. Kennicott meets with Greene each year about the time of the anniversary of his brother Michael’s unsolved murder. It is now the 10th anniversary.

Michael had been about to go to Gubbio when he was killed and Kennicott had often thought about going and trying to find out why Michael would want to travel to Gubbio. Their mother had also gone to Gubbio.

Daniel and Michael Kennicott had never believed that the death of their parents in cottage country, caused by their vehicle being struck by a drunk driver, was random. The driver, Arthur Rake, had served jail time and then disappeared. The Toronto police now have a lead to finding him.

Kennicott gets a reserved seat at the 500 year old crossbow contest in Gubbio. He is entranced by the spectacle of thrown colourful flags and pageantry. The contestants from the four quadrants of the town compete with 30 kg crossbows. The target is a small circle 36 metres away.

Greene designates the two newest recruits to the homicide squad, Abdul Davesh and Sadie Sheppard, to review the deaths of the Kennicott parents.

Kennicott explores the I Quaranta in which 40 residents of Gubbio were executed by the German army in 1944 after a German officer was killed at an outdoor cafe. 

Greene’s father, Grandpa Y (Yitzhak), and Greene's daughter Lady A (Alison), talk about his life before the Holocaust. He had lived in Poland with his wife and daughter, Hanna. Sent to Treblinka he was the only survivor in the family.

She tells him she will not judge him. He asks in succession even if he was a thief, even if he was a kidnapper, even if he was a killer, even if they were unarmed. She wraps her arms around him and squeezes him tight and asks him to tell her.

At liberation Grandpa Y was 95 pounds. A German woman, by feeding him Cream of Wheat and mashed potatoes, saved him from death or severe injury through over-eating. He managed to return to his home in Poland but met a harsh response. 

The police investigation takes Greene, the young investigators and Pam Opal, a local officer, deep into the history of the cottage owners. It is Sheppard and Darvesh who lead the way with good solid police work. Initially not a witness is threatened with grievious bodily harm. And then a few pages later a witness is threatened though in a way that made me doubt the threat. 

In Italy Kennicott is taken deeply into his family history. What he learns is shocking and deeply disturbing. 

Grandpa Y’s journey after the war is as startling and dark.

Grandpa Y deeply moved his granddaughter and myself with:

“I cry when I’m alone,” he said, “so I can smile when I’m with you.”

I regret Rosenberg shifting completely away from the lawyers featured in his earlier books to making this book a police investigation. I continue to consider his writing about lawyers and court cases what he does best as an author. 

The conclusion was choppy as if it was suddenly cut down. The abrupt shift was unsettling.

What We Buried is a good book. I had to suspend my disbelief enough to keep it from being a great book. Rotenberg is skilled at tying the three plotlines effectively together. The chosen ending bothered me though I expect most readers will be satisfied. Vigilante justice perverts the Rule of Law.



  1. It doesn't sound as though there's no focus in this novel on lawyers and legal cases, Bill. It sounds like a good story with an interesting past/present set of plot lines, but I can see how you'd like Rotenberg's stories featuring lawyers, too; they're very well done.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. It was a good story. All the book needed was some skilled lawyers.