- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Mulholland Books; F First Edition edition (May 14, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0316219827
- ISBN-13: 978-0316219822
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #140,672 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Angel Baby: A Novel Hardcover – May 14, 2013
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Luz’s plan to escape her husband, Tijuana’s brutal narco boss, and rejoin her daughter, who is hidden with relatives in L.A., seems flawless right up to the moment Luz is caught with her hands in the safe and frantically shoots her way out the door. Within hours, she’s hired Malone, a surfer gone to seed (and nursing a tragic past), to smuggle her across the border. Luz’s husband quickly sets reluctant enforcer Jeronimo on her trail, holding his family hostage as motivation. When Jeronimo foils a crooked Border Patrol agent’s robbery of Luz’s stolen cash, he and the agent, Thacker, form an uneasy partnership whose unraveling kicks the story into its groove. The story line is certainly familiar, but it’s wrapped in enticing layers. Lange pits Luz and Malone against Jeronimo and Thacker, each pair with one soul desperate to save what they love and one self-destructing from the knowledge they’ve destroyed it. Hope and regret tangle at each turn, and Lange’s tours through Tijuana and SoCal evoke a gritty grace. For readers who have already plowed through all the available Don Winslow. --Christine Tran
"When you find yourself rooting for the killer in a grisly crime novel, you know you're in the hands of a real writer. Every character in Richard Lange's Angel Baby feels like flesh and bone, even the ones who show up just to be killed.... The plot explodes after Luz kicks her habit, cleans out her husband's safe, shoots her bodyguards, and heads for the border ....As vividly as the other [character]s are drawn, I'd throw them all under the bus for Jerónimo, the morally conflicted killer who becomes the beating heart of the story."
---Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review
"Angel Baby, a lean novel that leaps and signs with hard-boiled intuition, is Lange's third book, and it's his best work yet.... If Angel Baby starts out at a gallop, it pretty quickly settles into a full-on sprint.... Luz is the hero of this story, a queen among highly corruptible pawns."
---William Boyle, Los Angeles Review of Books
"There are books-like Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men and Nic Pizzolatto's Galveston-that open with a trigger-snap of trouble and blast forward with the propulsive force of a bullet and never stop moving. Angel Baby is one of them....This novel about an escape is the perfect summer escape. Lange has proved his poetic grit with Dead Boys and This Wicked World, but Angel Baby puts him in a new category: crime boss."
---Benjamin Percy, Esquire
"Strong and relentless....Beautifully paced, deftly written, Angel Baby is a book about moral compromise, in which we have empathy for everyone (or almost everyone) and no one at once.... As with life, Angel Baby offers a story in which motivations are murky and every act is weighted, and the best we can hope for is that the means will be justified by the results....A book that does so much so well. Angel Baby is taut and vicious, unfurling like a rumba of rattlesnakes."
---David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times
"The story is thrilling and cinematic, told as one long chase scene....Lange inhabits his novel's characters. There's no pure black and white to them, only varying and unexpected shades of gray.... Intense, extreme and definitely grimy and readers will find that's a good thing."
---Christian DuChateau, CNN
"Almost every character in Lange's latest crime novel is made desperate by personal demons, and this struggle creates a fast-paced thrill ride.... A Tarantino-like vortex of mayhem and violence."
---Cameron Martin, Daily Beast
"This is one lean, tough novel. Lange's prose is sharp throughout and his pacing moves with the momentum of rolling thunder.... No one is good in this superb portrait of wrecked lives, but no one is entirely evil either. Everyone is painfully human and recognizable in his or her suffering....It's a truly great read."
---Derek Hill, Mystery Scene
"A rising star.... Lange embraces classic noir in all its violence, bleakness, and dark humor. He makes readers care about his flawed characters and appreciate the odds that were stacked against them by the circumstances of their upbringing. A film waiting to happen, this book boasts memorable characters, evocative settings, and a suspenseful plot."
"He's writing about the outcasts and fringe dwellers, and doing so with grace and beauty...This thriller keeps the tension building from the opening scene through the heart-wrenching conclusion...This is a novel full of thrills, grit and often sadness - a novel that should be at the top of any thriller or crime fan's reading list this summer. Lange's the real deal, whatever label you choose for him."―The Omaha World-Herald
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Top customer reviews
Luz, a Tijuana druglord’s mistress, plots her escape to Los Angeles, where she left her baby behind some years ago. Malone, a downwardly mobile drunk who supports himself ferrying illegals past the border, signs up to transport her. But the druglord springs career criminal Jeronimo from prison to pursue her while holding Jeronimo’s family hostage. A corrupt border patrolman is the joker in this stacked deck, and the game inevitably ends badly for most.
I enjoyed Lange’s aptly named collection of stories, “Dead Boys,” and now have ordered his other novel, “This Wicked World.”
One day, Luz decides she has had enough. She takes some cash out of her husband's safe, his Colt .45, and the clothes on her back, and prepares to escape. It's not her fault that people wound up dead as she tried to leave. And although she's on the run, determined to retrieve her daughter and start a new life, she knows it's only a matter of time before Rolando tries to find her.
Kevin Malone is an aging surfer who moved to Tijuana as things in his life went from bad to worse. Haunted by tragedy, he spends his time between drinking binges running Mexican immigrants across the border. When he is asked to help Luz, it shakes him out of his doldrums at the same time as it makes his memories worse, and he has no idea just how much danger he might face.
Jeronimo is a convict whose time in a Mexican prison is made more palatable thanks to the support he gets from Rolando as one of his employees. He is determined once he leaves prison to set his life straight and treat his wife and two young children to better things, but that's easier said than done. And when Rolando demands a favor from Jeronimo he cannot refuse, it sends him on a collision path with Luz and Malone--and another person determined to cash in on the situation.
Richard Lange's Angel Baby is a fun, action-packed book that transcends typical crime novels because of the complexity of the characters Lange has created. This is a novel where you want to root for almost everyone, even though you realize what that might mean. It's hopeful and bleak at times, and while you may figure out how the story will unfold, it doesn't matter, because the way Lange gets there is worth your time.
This is a book that reads a bit like a movie, and I don't mean that derogatorily. Enjoyable, well-written, and tremendously compelling. You'll want to savor the story and devour it.
Luz is one tough cookie. She had a very bad childhood. Her mother was a whore and the day she brought one of her customers home for Luz was the day that Luz decided to run away forever. She never expected to fall in love and have a baby. After the baby's father dies, Luz decides that she should leave her daughter with her aunt, Carmen. All she wants is a better life for her daughter, Isabel. Unfortunately, Luz ends up marrying an abusive, drug cartel leader named Rolando, El Principe. After taking one too many beatings, Luz calculates a plan that will hopefully get her across the border and reunite her with her daughter. Her plan seems to run smoothly as she loads up a backpack of El Principe's money and tucks away his gun. Her first stumbling block occurs when she is confronted by the maid and one of Rolando's thugs. After killing them and setting off into the desert, Luz knows that she is not going to let anything get in her way.
Rolando is not happy and hires Jeronimo, an inmate at the prison, to search for Luz and bring her back to him. Just in case Jeronimo has any doubts about Rolando's cruelty, the El Principe hold Jeronimo's family hostage. As soon as Rolando is reunited with Luz then Jeronimo can have his family back alive. While Jeronimo enlists the help of a crooked Border Patrol officer, with his own cruel agenda, Luz enlists the help of an alcoholic, immigrant smuggler named Malone.