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Leslie Kain
What Lies Buried
Leslie Kain, author

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Publish)

What Lies Buried…doesn’t stay buried. Scarred by a lifetime of emotional abuse and traumatic violence, Gavin battles the triggers of Complex PTSD. His wife Katie is determined to support him despite the strain of his unpredictable reactions on their marriage. But returning to Boston to settle his father’s estate reactivates Gavin’s childhood scars, and more triggers. Then when he uncovers his family’s mob history, his volatile reactions put him in the crosshairs of dangerous people. Worried for his safety, Katie packs up their toddler and joins him. While there, she begins sorting through her late parents’ keepsakes, finding evidence of the artistic talent she abandoned after her father died, when she became child caregiver to her disabled mother. Eager to revive her unfulfilled past, Katie copes with Gavin’s increasingly unstable behavior through her painting and new friendships that encourage her journey to self-discovery. As Gavin resists treatment and goes off the rails, secrets of his family’s past threaten them all. The generational dysfunction in Kain’s award-winning Secrets In The Mirror continues, as Katie faces her own emotional wounds and must choose between saving her marriage or saving their child...and herself.
In this emotional family saga and thriller, Kain (author of Secrets In The Mirror) explores PTSD and childhood trauma in a narrative blending psychological suspense with hard-won emotional breakthroughs. Gavin DiMasi is trying to move on with his life after the heartbreaking discovery of the death by suicide of his twin brother, Devon. Living in the peaceful paradise of Kauai with his wife, Katie and his toddler, Maggie, Gavin struggles daily with this loss as well as the trauma of his abusive childhood. When Gavin receives news that he needs to settle his late father's estate back in Boston, both Gavin and Katie have reservations about his return to his childhood home, understanding that this visit could set into motion emotional triggers that can send Gavin over the edge.

Kain handles the heavy topics of abuse, grief, and facing old wounds with sensitivity that doesn’t dilute the story’s impact. Gavin will resonate with readers interested in healing, even as he spirals further into his mental anguish. Exploring the effects of mental illness on not only the individual suffering from it, but those closest to him, What Lies Buried is a humane and engaging story that’s frank about the challenges of recovery. Gavin not only has to deal with his PTSD and grief but also the nagging possibility that someone is watching him as he deals with his family's estate. After discovering his family's surprise connection to the local mob syndicate, he enlists the help of his high school best friend, Trayvon, who works with the FBI.

Adding to the tension, everyone around notices Gavin's descent—his grandparents, his wife, his best friend, and his psychiatrist—but by the time they realize he might be a danger to himself, their efforts to help may come too late. Kain has crafted a fast-paced contemporary thriller that delves with insight into themes of mental health. Readers who enjoy unreliable narrators and jolting plot twists will enjoy this.

Takeaway: Psychological thriller digging into PTSD, family secrets, and generational abuse.

Comparable Titles: Erin Kelly’s Stone Mothers, Liane Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A