Angels Burning by Tawni O'Dell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Dove Carnahan is Chief of Police in a rural Pennsylvania town. Her job is typically more administrative than investigative. So when a girl's body is found beaten and burned in abandoned part of town, Dove must rally her team's limited resources to find out what has happened. In addition, she must work with the state police, including Chief Nolan, with whom she has a past, to solve the crime. In doing so, Dove becomes entwined with a local redneck family. The crime also brings up memories of the murder of Dove's mother many years ago. Will Dove be able to bring justice for this crime, without getting sidetracked by her own past?
I thoroughly enjoyed this book - it took me by complete surprise. Part of it was that I felt that I knew the characters. I've grown up with families like these - gone to school with them, live near them now. O'Dell portrayed the town dynamics flawlessly and she did a magnificent job of bringing each character into full detail.
Dove is an interesting character - flawed in many ways, but you cannot help but root for her and like her. The entire book felt somewhat familiar, like I'd picked up in the middle of series. (Speaking of, when this ended, I thought, oh I hope O'Dell writes another book featuring Dove.) Dove reminded me a little bit of Kate Burkholder, from Linda Castillo's excellent series - another strong female detective fighting for her hometown.
There were a few plot points that seemed a bit unbelievable (at one point, Dove shoots out the tires on a boys' pickup truck, just because he's annoyed her - something that would no doubt get her fired in this crazy media/viral video age we live in), but O'Dell's writing and plot gets you past any missteps. I thought Dove focused a bit too much on worries about her age (she's just turned 50) and her gender -- pointing out how men wouldn't treat her a particular way if she was actually a man. But really, Dove is so excellent at her job that she really just manages to prove that she can do anything - age or gender be damned.
The plot is intriguing and compelling and you find yourself drawn into the deceased girl's family and acquaintances, as well as Dove's own family and past. Honestly, when this one was over, I felt sad, which is a rare quality anymore. 4.5 stars.
(Note: I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley in return for an unbiased review.)
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