Fiction Reviews


A Terrible Fall of Angels

(2021) Laurell K. Hamilton, Headline, £20, hrdbk, 389pp, ISBN 978-1-472-28534-8

 

A Terrible Fall of Angels is the first book in a new series from Laurell K. Hamilton. Despite her prolific output, Hamilton only has two other novel series; 'Anita Blake Vampire Hunter', started in 1993 and has twenty-eight novels; and 'Merry Gentry', started in 2000 and has nine novels. So, for fans of her work, this is a huge milestone.

Detective Daniel Havelock, who generally prefers to be called Havoc, specialises in investigating a very specific type of crime; ones that involve angels. Other members of the Metaphysical Coordination Unit have other specialist skills, but together look at supernatural and magical crimes. A trail of feathers leads the police to believe that Havoc's skills are needed to catch a violent killer.

This tale, arguably, marks a return to a style of writing present in her earlier novels of the 'Anita Blake' series, in that it focuses more attention on the action of the plot rather than the character development. The plot moves at a good pace as it follows the investigation.

Of course, some people's comments critical of the pace or character details in later Anita novels are just trying to say there are too many graphical sex scenes. Those people may be relieved to know there are none in this book. There could be a content warning for rape, it is not described or confirmed that the characters are raped, but that is what the perspective character believes takes place. There might also be content warnings for murder and violence, which is described more graphically.

The novel is a dialogue rich, single character perspective written in the first person. This is a direct approach that draws the reader in, but allows Hamilton to hide information that the character Havoc does to know or is not currently reflecting on. As we are lead through the action, the characterís back story becomes apparent as it feeds into his current reality. We meet people from his past, such as his friend Levi, so when Havoc remembers things about his previous interactions with Levi, we learn more about Havoc as a character. This means the information is trickled in as it becomes relevant to the plot, rather than dumped in a large exposition which might slow down the action.

We also meet Havocís wife Reggie, they are separated and attending therapy. This felt to me to be a very mundane, relatable relationship, which somehow helped to ground the more fantastical elements of the plot. Havoc leaves a crime scene to get to a therapy appointment and is criticised by Reggie because he canít concentrate on what she is saying when his mind is still thinking about his work.

It is difficult, perhaps, to have a novel featuring demons and angels that could not be read as social commentary on religion. This novel is no exception and has themes within the work relating to the difference between faith and religion and how the ďwill of GodĒ is interpreted by those who claim to speak for the Divine. Suriel is a character who is so rigid in her religion that she almost denies the reality of the world outside those blinkers. Havoc thinks of her as a good person, so is then shocked when she is prepared to hurt other simply because their beliefs are different from hers. Echoing real world feelings when we see religious bigotry in others. I feel this theme is likely to be explored further in future novels as we find out more about Havocís previous experiences.

It is an excellent read, a great opportunity for those who like to start a new series from the beginning and adds to the ever-growing pile of books for which I am waiting for a sequel.

Karen Fishwick

 


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