Blood of Angels Kindle Edition
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I downloaded book 2 to my Kindle and read it in one sitting. No choice now but to download book 3, this one, and get started.
Now that I finished all three I can comprehend the entire scale of this trilogy. From very simple beginnings the story grew to global and historical proportions. It was a blast and I enjoyed the entire tale. Very nicely done!
BLOOD OF ANGELS has a much more straightforward storyline than his two other books which I have read, and in my opinion is marginally less enjoyable. But the themes are so different that I suspect many readers may not share my opinion. In fact, readers who enjoy a more linear story and also speedreaders for whom nuances are less important may actually find this book the most enjoyable of the three. Another differentiating factor in this book is the importance of the locale in which the story is set and Arvin's choice of the town where he lives, Nashville, TN. The details utilized in the construction of this story, including the regional political climate, the local neighborhoods (especially the juxtaposition of the Nations and Tennessee Village), the nature of the sanctuary of The Downtown Presbyterian Church, and the central role of the "lost boys of the Sudan" all lend an aura of reality to it. The author has such detailed knowledge of the area that he has created what I call "reality based fiction"; the real people and places which comprise the background of the story lend it sufficient authenticity so that the reader feels much of it is not beyond the realm of possibility despite the fact is not based on an actual series of events.
There are several intertwined threads to this story; a full description would both be beyond the scope of this review and also impossible without spoilers. The central character is Thomas Dennehy, an Assistant District Attorney in Davidson County, TN whose life is about to be completely disrupted by the intersection two seemingly unrelated cases. Almost immediately, Dennehy and his associates in the DA's office are notified by Georgetown University Professor and death penalty opponent Phillip Buchanan that a prison inmate named Charles Bridges has just confessed to a murder for which they convicted Wilson Owens and then successfully argued for the imposition of the death penalty. Since Owens has already been executed, Dennehy suddenly starts "to seriously pay attention. The fact that my life is about to change is vaguely announcing itself now, a light humming in my synapses." He gradually comes to believe that it is quite possible that he will have the notoriety of becoming the prosecutor on the first case where an innocent man actually was executed.
Coincident with the investigation into Bridges' claims, Dennehy is the lead prosecutor in another potential death penalty case. Moses Bol, a Sudanese refugee living in Tennessee Village (largely populated by immigrants) is accused of the brutal murder of a white woman from the neighboring Nations enclave (a bastion of lower class whites). The juxtaposition of the two cases causes a national media spotlight to be focused on Nashville; inevitably protests are mounted and violence erupts. As in Arvin's previous novels, interwoven with these storylines is the complex personal story of Dennehy himself. While facing perhaps the greatest challenge of his life, his is also attempting to deal with the price which his professional career has led him to pay in terms of his failed marriage and his strained relationship with his young daughter.
This is both an action and a psychological thriller; however, lovers of legal thrillers should be aware that the actual courtroom scenes are almost non-existent. BLOOD OF ANGELS is not about legal maneuvering, but rather concerns a a search for the truth as the upcoming trial of Moses Bol is enveloped by the shadow cast by the long-ago trial verdict that eventually led to the execution of Wilson Owens. The lives of several of the central characters including members of the DA's office are impacted during the course of the story as further assaults and additional murders occur.
This is not only a thriller, but a story where morality and religion and their role in the complex choices which individuals face are central to the plot. While the story utilizes the backdrop of powerful forces arrayed against each other in the debate concerning the morality of capital punishment, the reader is never subjected to either preaching or propaganda regarding a specific viewpoint (as was the case with the film THE LIFE OF DAVID GALE and so often detracts from my enjoyment of death penalty stories). This is rather a fast moving thriller which also features the intense impact which these cases have on Dennehy's personal life.
As mentioned earlier, It is difficult to compare Arvin's three books which I have read, I thoroughly enjoyed all three. THE LAST GOODBYE (review 2/17/2004) was the most complex plot but had a somewhat more standard storyline and was much less an investigation of complex societal and moral issues. Due to its philosophical undercurrent as well as the story's complexity, my favorite is definitely THE WILL (review 7/19/20040: however, the more overtly religious theme of certain segments of this story (while never "preachy") might not appeal to some readers. If you appreciate good story telling you will probably want to read all three regardless of which one you read first, and they are all completely standalone novels.
One final note: the publisher is to be congratulated for its pricing strategy with this book. I hope that what I assume is an experiment to determine if a lower price would attract more readers to Arvin's fiction succeeds. This is one of the real bargains to be found in a world where so much fiction is overpriced given the frequent short length of novels and the waste of space with chapter breaks every few pages, blank facing pages and overly large type. Finally, a book where I felt that I got more than my money's worth.
This novel is definitely an intricate, well thought out work of suspense. The characters in this novel are very well drawn and Dennehy's relationship and interaction with them gives the novel a very personal touch.
Two thumbs up for this one.