All We Buried: A Sheriff Bet Rivers Mystery
by Elena Taylor
About All We Buried
All We Buried: A Sheriff Bet Rivers Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (April 7, 2020)
Hardcover: 304 pages
Digital ASIN: B07RQH353V
For fans of Julia Keller and Sheena Kamal, All We Buried disturbs the long-sleeping secrets of a small Washington State mountain town.
Interim sheriff Elizabeth “Bet” Rivers has always had one repeat nightmare: a shadowy figure throwing a suspicious object into her hometown lake in Collier, Washington. For the longest time, she chalked it up to an overactive imagination as a kid. Then the report arrives. In the woods of the Cascade mountain range, right in her jurisdiction, a body floats to the surface of Lake Collier. When the body is extricated and revealed, no one can identify Jane Doe. But someone must know the woman, so why aren’t they coming forward?
Bet has been sitting as the interim sheriff of this tiny town in the ill-fitting shoes of her late father and predecessor. With the nightmare on her heels, Bet decided to build a life for herself in Los Angeles, but now it’s time to confront the tragic history of Collier. The more she learns, the more Bet realizes she doesn’t know the townspeople of Collier as well as she thought, and nothing can prepare her for what she is about to discover.
I am thrilled to host Elena and this guest post today!!
A Crime Writer’s Take on Character Development and Grey’s Anatomy
I watch a lot of crime dramas on television. From the terrific adaptations of British novels to the long-running Law & Order, I enjoy a lot of the shows the reflect the genre I write in.
For both genres, I fully realize I’m watching fiction. I know DNA doesn’t come back in an hour, that Crime Scene Technicians don’t chase suspects, and that interns can’t break protocol over and over and still continue working at their hospital, or even staying out of jail.
But it’s so much fun and the characters matter, so I suspend my disbelief and relish the drama.
So why am I bothered by a character choice on a recent episode of Grey’s Anatomy?
The simple answer? Creating unrealistic situations in a fictional context can be forgiven, but I’m not sure creating an unrealistic aspect of character development can.
When I teach writing workshops about character development, I often say “characters can—and should—surprise us, but those surprises should still be in character.”
In other words, after a character has done something I don’t expect, I should be able to look back and say, “of course that’s how they behaved. The clues are all there that this is what they would do.”
This might include the lengths that they would go to achieve something or their unwillingness to break an ethical rule. It could cover their ability to overcome a fear or their inability to help a friend.
What it can’t do, is reverse the forward development of a character that we’ve watched for sixteen years into a less ethical character. Because that makes the character a lie and that, dear reader, is unforgivable.
The internet exploded with comments about the exit of Justin Chambers’ character, Alex Karev from Grey’s Anatomy’s sixteenth season.
The loss of the character is understandable. Actors are human beings with complex lives. Chambers moved on for whatever reason and his character’s absence had to be dealt with, but the decision made by the show’s writers on how to do that may have missed the mark.
Here’s the scenario for those of you who don’t watch Grey’s Anatomy.
Alex started as a total jerk.
Throughout the first season, he became less of a jerk.
Over the next decade and a half, he continued to develop and evolve and became a thoughtful, conscientious, loving adult.
He ended the series as a total jerk.
See the problem there?
In mid-November, Alex Karev disappeared from the show. No explanation. Just vanished.
His wife, Jo, worried. She called. She emailed. She panicked. She mourned. She suffered. She got no response.
Then on March 5, all of Alex’s closest friends got letters explaining his disappearance.
He leaves his wife over a letter.
The letters describe how he reconnected with his first wife and learned they had two children together, which she’d birthed five years ago through embryos they’d created during her cancer treatment.
Ignoring all of the potential plot problems with that scenario, let’s go back to the fundamental problem with character development.
Alex left his wife—the woman who grew up in the foster system just as Alex did, who finally overcame her fear of trusting another human being through her time with Alex—through a letter.
After letting her wonder for months where he was and why he walked out.
This is beyond cruel. It’s epic in its cruelty. It’s also bizarre in its cruelty. It’s more than just “who does that?” It’s why, why, why would Alex Karev do that?
There is NOTHING in his character development to back up that kind of behavior. Even at Alex’s worst, even when he behaved like a jerk, he was never cruel.
There are no clues in place to justify this kind of action on his part.
Will this kill Grey’s Anatomy? Probably not. It’s a wildly successful show and Meredith Grey remains alive and well and she’s the main character. But there’s an emotional impact here that may matter more to fans, even if they keep watching.
A lot of longtime viewers feel duped.
It takes away some of the pleasure of feeling like we “know” these characters. That our investment in years of watching the show, sometimes following characters we didn’t care for and scenarios we found tedious just to stay with a program for which we felt intense loyalty, has been cheapened.
Alex Karev didn’t just leave his wife, or his person, Meredith, or the hospital he was trying to save. He left his fans.
And we didn’t even get a letter.
Oh, Girl, I so, agree, I was steaming over this for days!
About the Author
Elena Taylor spent several years working in theater as a playwright, director, designer, and educator before turning her storytelling skills to fiction. Her first series, the Eddie Shoes Mysteries, written under the name Elena Hartwell, introduced a quirky mother/daughter crime-fighting duo. With All We Buried, Elena returns to her dramatic roots and brings readers a much more serious and atmospheric novel. Located in her beloved Washington State, Elena uses her connection to the environment to produce a forbidding story of small-town secrets and things that won’t stay buried. Elena is also a senior editor with Allegory Editing, a developmental editing house, where she works one-on-one with writers to shape and polish manuscripts, short stories, and plays. If you’d like to work with Elena, visit www.allegoryediting.com.When she’s not writing or coaching writing, her favorite place to be is at the farm with her horses, Jasper and Radar, or at her home, on the middle fork of the Snoqualmie River in North Bend, Washington, with her husband, their dog, Polar, and their cats, Coal Train and Cocoa. Elena holds a B.A. from the University of San Diego, a M.Ed. from the University of Washington, Tacoma, and a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia.
Written as Elena Hartwell
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Great Escapes Praise for All We Buried: A Sheriff Bet Rivers Mystery
by Elena Taylor
I absolutely loved All We Buried: A Sheriff Bet Rivers Mystery! If you love a good suspenseful mystery, you’ll love it too!
~CHRISTY’S COZY CORNERS
I haven’t read Elena Taylor before but after being thoroughly captivated by Bet Rivers, this is definitely not the last!
~TBR Book Blog
All We Buried by Elena Taylor was an exciting tale of mystery, crime, and carrying a family legacy.
~Baroness’ Book Trove
The story was well thought out, executed and gripping, I loved the small town setting and the characters and can’t wait to read from this series and author.
Taylor skillfully sets the pace to allow us to become acquainted with the town, the people, and the deep-rooted mysteries coming to the surface. A fabulous read from start to finish!
~Reading Is My SuperPower
A twisty little thriller set in the dark environs of Washington state with a lake that is so dead that fish can’t even live there.
~Diane Reviews Books
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