Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Bookish Thoughts: Angels Burning by Tawni O'Dell

The last time I was this close to Rudy Mayfield he was leaning across the seat of his dad's truck trying to grope my recently ripened breasts. ~ Opening of Angels Burning


Angels Burning by Tawni O'Dell
Gallery Books, 2016
Crime Fiction; 288 pgs
Source: NetGalley

I was first drawn to this book because it features a female chief of police, Chief Dove Carnahan. That and the Pennsylvania countryside setting.  Given my dad is from Pennsylvania originally and I still have family there, I enjoy reading books set in the state.

Chief Carnahan knows she and her small force are out of their league when a teenage girl is found brutally murdered in their jurisdiction. She does not hesitate to call in the State Police for help. And while she knows they will take lead on the investigation, she and her team work diligently to solve the crime. The victim is a member of the Truly family, a poor and extremely dysfunctional family. As the chief begins to poke her nose into the Truly family's business, she cannot help but think on her own similar childhood. It doesn't help when a man from her past, the man convicted of killing her mother several years before, is released from prison and returns to confront the chief and her sister. What follows is a dark and twisted look into human motivations, family secrets, and just how far someone will go when pushed to the limit.

Dove has had to work hard to get where she is, sometimes harder just because she is a woman. She is dogged in her approach to her work, rarely showing any outward vulnerability. She has a fierce loyalty to her family, both her sister and her brother. Her childhood has left her somewhat bitter, and has damaged her ability to have a healthy relationship. To say I liked her character would maybe be too much. I never was quite sure of Dove. I felt for her and could understand where she was coming from, but she isn't an easy person to get close to. It's clear she is good at her job and takes it seriously. She has had to make some hard choices in her life, for right or wrong.

I would like to have known more about Dove's sister who at times seemed more closed off than Dove. Her love for animals and preference over them to humans was something I could relate to to some degree.

The Truly family is at the heart of the novel in many respects. They are dysfunction at its worst. Poverty itself does not make dysfunction, but for the Truly family it certainly played a part. The more I learned about the Truly family, the more I found myself mentally backing away from them. I wish I could say families like them do not exist, but I know first hand they do. While the Truly clan was impossible to like for many reasons, the same can't be said for the young Derk Truly who, as wild as he is, seems to have some redeeming qualities. There were a number of times I wish I could have plucked him out of the book and dropped him into a much better--healthier and loving--environment.

O'Dell's Angels Burning was an intense novel, keeping me engaged throughout. The characterizations are raw--you really get a feel for just how desperate and frustrated the characters are. While I felt the murder investigation itself was wrapped up well, I wasn't quite satisfied with the way one particular thread was left. Still, overall I enjoyed this novel.

To learn more about Tawni O'Dell and her work, please visit the author's website

Challenge Requirement Met for COYER.


© 2016, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

16 comments:

  1. I heard very good things about this author - including this novel - and would dearly love to read her books :)

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    1. Iza - I enjoyed this one, and hope you will too if you read it. :-) I know a friend of mine (Jenclair) read one of her earlier books and wasn't impressed though.

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  2. An intense story with a female chief of police? I'm in!

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    1. Kathy - It's nice to read about a woman in such a role.

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  3. I remember you posted a teaser for this one and I thought it sounded interesting. I'm definitely intrigued now. I like books involving female police chiefs as well and the story itself sounds interesting. That's too bad that not all of the stories are wrapped up satisfactorily but I am glad the mystery is wrapped up. I'll definitely have to give this a try.

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    1. Katherine - The author put her characters in very difficult situations. It's hard to say it was entertaining because it was so dark. But I did like the novel.

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  4. I like the sound of this book, especially the protagonist and not to mention the plot. Will be checking this out.

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    1. Melody - I hope you like it if you do read it, Melody.

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  5. I'm glad you liked it. I grabbed a copy because I, too, was intrigued by a female chief of police. Hope I can read it soon!

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    1. Diana - I hope you enjoy it! I'll be curious to know what you think when you do read it.

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  6. Second review I am reading on this one. Could not get it from anywhere so it will just go on my wishlist for now!

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    1. Mystica - I hope it comes your way at some point!

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  7. You hooked me with your description of the characterizations, raw with palpable desperation. I also like the idea of a female police chief.

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    1. Stephanie - I wasn't wow'd by the writing, but I do think the author did a good job with the characterizations.

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  8. It's great to see a female main character in thrillers/crime fiction. Enjoyed your review and think this is one I could see myself reading!

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    1. Iliana - Especially one in a role of authority like that. If you read Angels Burning, I hope you enjoy it!

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