Friday, 16 October 2009

Angel of Death by J. Robert King (Book Review)

The angel of death in Chicago oversees all people in the megalopolis, making sure their deaths fit their lives. Though most deaths naturally do, those that result from serial murder do not, so the angel spends much time trailing a serial killer in his patch.

On the trail of one such man, he encounters a cop and falls in love with her. When he is assigned to kill her, though, he has to make a choice between divinity and humanity.

J. Robert King’s new urban fantasy Angel of Death from the HarperCollins new imprint Angry Robot Books is an unpredictable thriller, which is why I kept turning page after page until well past midnight.

The Angel of Death arranges death for people marked by God when their time comes in a fitting scenario. He has supernatural powers. He accompanies the murderers and serial killers during their hunts, often orchestrating the details.

The internal workings of the Angel of Death became fascinating when he began to have feelings that angels are not supposed to have. When love comes to him for the female investigator, Donna Leland, his angel existence is doomed as any union between angel and human is forbidden.

As the story progressed I began to consider whether the angel had really fallen from grace or was this character a mentally irregular person who had accomplices. There are incidents within the story that I found to be suspicious, at least for an angel. This stems from the Angel of Death assuming human form for the benefit of Detective Leland, resulting in a form of transformation for the angel which he finds alien. His thought and behaviour patterns begin to change to those that humans use which are in direct conflict with those of angels.

An interesting concept is put forward when the angel uses rationalization of the killings with the use of biblical references taken in a different light than others do. These seem reasonable when presented.

Although Detective Donna Leland is assigned to hunting the murderers and serial killers, there is not much depth to her character. She has a tragic family past that has a slight bearing on the plot as it influences her behaviour toward sick individuals. She soon faces a conflict with coming to terms of her love for a man who may be the serial killer.

Rather than go farther into the story which will certainly produce plot spoilers, the Angel of Death has interesting elements of human psychological behaviour between the characters. There are graphic scenes of violence that provided more horror elements than I cared to read. The ending may not suit all readers. I found portions of it to be contrived rather than provide a satisfying ending.

Book format: paperback, 390 pages
Publisher: Angry Robot Books, imprint of HarperCollins
Author website: J. Robert King
Publication Date UK/AUS: September 3, 2009
US/Canada – Spring 2010

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