A Terrible Fall of Angels by Laurell K. Hamilton
Headline, hb, £20.00
Reviewed by Sarah Deeming
Detective Zaniel ‘Havoc’ Havelock trained as an Angel Speak, someone who can speak with angels and survive. However, a terrible event makes Havelock reconsider his life and he leaves the College of Angels and becomes an LA cop. When an angel feather is found at a college student’s murder scene, Havelock is called in with his unique insights to solve the case. But this case involving something more dangerous than demonic possession is outside of his expertise, and he must turn to the College for help, reawakening his personal demons.
Can Havelock face his past to save another person’s future?
A Terrible Fall of Angels starts a new series from the queen of supernatural fantasy, Laurell K. Hamilton. Having read the Anita Blake and Meredith Gentry series, I was excited to begin a new series and was reassured by the familiar style. Havelock narrates the events for us, giving the reader his personal insights into the clues at the crime scene and the people he’s working with. The first hundred pages sizzled with scene-setting action, giving us a taste of Havelock’s life with an angelic manifestation, demonic possession, a varied cast of supporting characters, and a strained personal life. Havelock has a lot on his plate.
While I enjoyed the first part of the story, I feel the rest of the book suffered from the issue of too many ideas being crammed into one novel. There is a significant number of characters representing every possible religion and sexual preference. In a series, this isn’t a problem. However, when all the characters are introduced in book one, it’s hard to keep track of everyone, and it can feel as though there’s more introduction than plot.
As this is a Laurell K. Hamilton novel, I expected it to be heavy on the romance, but here I hit another stumbling block. Havelock’s relationship status is also confusing. He and his wife, Ronnie, are on a break and having couple’s therapy. Even though Havelock wants to get back with her, he also eyes up every female he comes across, flirts with most of them, and explains to the reader why the others are off-limits. He even states that he “needs a date”. When Ronnie is introduced, she blows hot and cold with him, one minute accusing him of staring at her chest, then kissing him in a car park and asking him to dinner. I expected her to make more appearances, but she vanishes until the end of the book and is all over him again.
Some incidents take up more pages that are possibly needed because of sexually charged banter, outright flirting, or calling characters out for being unprofessional because of some flirtatious comment. For example, Havelock’s shirt is needed as evidence, and three chapters are dedicated to a socially awkward medical examiner’s assistant trying to get this shirt. The assistant, Adam, is a very strict by-the-book person, yet the idea that it’s inappropriate for Havelock to strip in the office escapes him. There is a lot of back and forth from Havelock’s work colleagues about seeing him without his shirt on, which went on a little too long for me.
While this might seem there’s a lot I had an issue with, I am aware that A Terrible Fall of Angels is the first in a series, and so the scene-setting that kept snagging my reading flow should be gone in the second book as we already know the key players and motivations and essential history. I might have preferred some backstory held back for other novels and had a little more plot, but with Hamilton, we’re in safe hands, and I’m excited to see what happens next.