Thursday, September 17, 2015

Angel Killer by Andrew Mayne

First Sentence: “You’re going to die.”

A hacker took down an FBI website leaving a mysterious code found to be GPS coordinates which take them to a cemetery in Michigan where it appears a dead girl crawled out of her own grave. Even more mysterious is that the pathologist declares the woman only died hours before, she is identified by the victim’s parents as someone who died years prior to that. The FBI brings in Agent Jessica Blackwood, formerly a highly-successful third generation magician and illusionist, to tell them how the crime could have been done. Thus begins an exciting, and dangerous, journey of tricks…and more deaths; possibly even Jessica’s.

Mayne has a very powerful, compelling voice that pulls you in and keeps you there, even when you’d rather turn away.

One is immediately drawn to the protagonist; her caring and warmth. Mayne skillfully relates her backstory as an integral part of the story; and her background is intriguing. The flashbacks to the Jessica’s stage career not only provide a look as to what formed her personality and the level of her skills. Jessica’s self-deprecation and resistance to being placed in the foreground is refreshing. She doesn’t want to be seen as heroic and is always questioning the validity of her ideas. Yet it is also nice for a protagonist to be supported, as she is, by her superiors and other team members. The secondary character of Damian Knight—her psychopathic sidekick, as it were—is one who is both compelling and very scary.

Also intriguing is that the story is told in first person so that readers aren’t given the protagonists first name—unless you read the back cover—until quite far into the story. It’s rather too bad the book jacket spoils the sense of mystery.

Mayne provides us with fascinating information on the behind-the scenes look at the practice and methodologies of magicians and illusionists. It’s done in such a way that it is a natural part of the story and serves to move the plot forward. He has a natural ear for dialogue, both internal and spoken, and his wry humor is often a perfect antidote to the tension of the situation…”Nobody needs to know how out of place I am. They’ll figure that out for themselves soon enough.”

The plot is not perfect, thrilling though it is. There is a “tell” that allows readers to see what is coming before the characters do, and there’s one major coincidence. The biggest question, as one supposes it is supposed to be, is Damian’s role. The use of him is a bit too convenient as a way to direct the investigation without the use of real procedural work being done.

Angel Killer” is engrossing, suspenseful, and very exciting with a wonderful protagonist and a promise of things to come.

ANGEL KILLER (Pol Proc-Agent Jessica Blackwood-US-Contemp) – VG+
Mayne, Andrew – 1st in series
Bourbon Street Books - 2012

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