Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Crime Fiction Week Guest Review: Kate Rhodes - A Killing of Angels

Reviewed by Danielle Pullen

The first death looked like a suicide. But someone had tucked a picture of an angel and a handful of white feathers into the banker's pocket - before pushing him in front of a Tube. A killer is stalking the Square Mile, an avenging angel intent on punishment. But why these victims? What were their sins?

Psychologist Alice Quentin swore she'd never get involved with police work again. Her duty is to the living, not the dead. But she owes detective Don Burns a favour, and when he comes begging for help, how can she refuse? 

In order to find the murderer, Alice and Don must dig deep into the toxic heart of the City. A place where money means more than life, and no one can be counted innocent.

OK, first things first.  Crime is not generally my bag.  I can count the number of genuinely thrilling, well-written crime novels I’ve read on one hand.  With that as a starting point, you can imagine I’m a difficult reader to please when it comes to this genre.  And so I began Killing of Angels with a somewhat heavy heart.

The novel follows Crossbones Yard, Rhodes’s first novel, though this by no means inhibits the reader’s understanding of A Killing of Angels as a stand-alone novel.  Although there are some parallels in terms of the characters and the follow-up plot, the story’s arc is easy to follow for a first-time Rhodes reader.

The main protagonists are Alice Quentin, a psychologist, and Don Burns, a detective, who she has teamed up with in the past.  Burns is hanging on to his job in the face of challenges from his fellow officers and he begins to rely on Quentin in more than a professional capacity.  Indeed, when a series of killings, all gruesomely linked together, need to be investigated, Burns’ and Quentin’s personal lives come under even more scrutiny.

The pace of this novel was a little slow to begin with, though I did feel more gripped as it progressed.  There is a real visual aspect to the writing and I could certainly see the text being adapted for television.  Unfortunately, however, I couldn’t help feeling that I’d read this story before and encountered these characters in another place; such is the replicability of this genre.  Indeed, the twists and turns were rather mechanical and, at times, this did feel like the stereotypical join-the-dots thriller.

I read this book whilst on holiday and it certainly passed away the hours while relaxing on a sun lounger with a drink in my hand.  Unfortunately, however, this isn’t a book I will remember for long after the last cocktail.

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