By Nora Roberts. Grade: B+
Nora Roberts is one of those auto-buy authors for me. Almost always, she offers decent entertainment, and sometimes, even exceptional. Even under J.D. Robb, her pseudonym, her thriller novels are good to spend time with.
Angels Fall was a little different. Let me first acquaint you with the story:
Reece Gilmore is the sole survivor of a murder spree in a restaurant in Boston, where she had been a chef. After months of therapy and hospitalization, Reece is trying to put herself back together. She’s meandering across the country in her old car, stopping from time to time to work long enough to make enough money to move on. Afraid of the dark and obsessive about locking doors, Reece limps into Angel’s Fist with her car overheating. Seeing a sign in a diner window, the cordon bleu chef takes a job as a fry cook and, eventually, rents an apartment above the diner and starts settling in. One day while out hiking, she stops to rest in a scenic spot overlooking the Snake River and spies a couple in her binoculars. When their argument erupts into murder, Reece runs down the trail and into Brody, a thriller writer who lives in Angel’s Fist. They report the murder and direct the police to the place where it happened, but no trace of an altercation is found.
She is certain of what she has seen, and the only one that will believe her is a popular author Brody. Brody believes Reece, but has also been informed of her past. He sees some of her unusual behavior, but sticks with his gut instinct that she is telling the truth.
Predictably, they try to solve the case. The murderer makes it more difficult by taking advantage of her past trauma, trying to make her think she’s crazy. Suspicion is cast on several local residents, and the murderer must be one of them.
This story of a woman striving to overcome a traumatic past is expertly done by the author and captures readers by vocally embodying the fears and challenges experienced by the protagonist. No over the top drama for this reader, only a pitch perfect, authentic performance. Watching this brave, strong woman overcome the trauma of her past was worthwhile even without the romance.
Usually in novels like these, the author calls the heroine strong but she still indulges in frequent bouts of self-pity and each little set-back pushes her to tears. Reece is very different. She is understandably vulnerable and what appear to be neuroses – her constant checking of locks, keeping lights on and dislike of closed spaces – are entirely reasonable in view of what she’s been through. She’s a feisty woman though, with more determination than she gives herself credit for. This isn’t a story about a wimp. You understand her fears and sympathize with her, so that when she acts a little irrational or over-reacts, there is no way you can get mad at her.
I loved Brody. He is not your sweeping-off-your-feet Prince Charming. He is surly, occasionally rude, not always gentlemanly, but a softie inside. An extremely romantic character, like a moody poet from the previous century.
Now, moving on to the bad parts, I have a full list.
Firstly, I thought the characters were supposed to be smart. The hero is a best selling mystery writer. And yet the villain ransacks Reece’s home again and again and again and she is sure that somebody is violating her privacy, yet she doesn’t apply her common sense to fix it. Fine, she’s poor, so she couldn’t have very well hired a body-guard, but there could have been a tiny camera. The mystery would have been solved 400 pages earlier, all right, but I trusted Nora Roberts not to leave such an obvious loophole.
Secondly, the descriptions get tedious. The author has provided beautiful setting, but a lot of times I thought the descriptions unnecessary which tended towards rambling. Don’t get me wrong; I love thick books. But more often than not, the pages are filled with a lot of unnecessary stuff, which don’t really add anything to the story.
Overall, I think Angels Fall is an interesting look at the effect that past mental problems can have on your life, on the assumptions that people will make about how trustworthy, how reliable you are. There’s nothing heavy-handed, but it’s a thread woven neatly through the plot. The story is well-paced and a good page-turner.
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