Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Angels in the Gloom: Notes & Review

Angels in the Gloom (2005) by Anne Perry is third novel in her WWI series which follows the Reavely family. On the day WWI began, Joseph, Matthew, and Hannah's parents were killed in an automobile accident. At least that's official version. Joseph and Matthew know that a man known only as the Peacemaker is really responsible and even as they go to work for their country--each in their own way, Joseph as an army chaplain and Matthew in intelligence, they vow to discover the Peacemaker's identity and bring him to justice.

This third book finds Joseph sent home from the front after suffering an injury while rescuing a soldier caught in the no-man's-land between trenches. Having helped the police on two other occasions when murders occurred, he is asked to help once again when a scientist working at a local top-secret establishment is found murdered. Are enemy agents at work in the small village of St. Giles or is the motive a more prosaic matter of jealousy or a woman scorned? Matthew is also hard at work on a mystery of his own--trying to track down the German spies who are leaking details of Britain's war strategies.

Observations While Reading:
Hannah--sister of Joseph--is incredibly annoying. Every time she's in a scene we get to witness her angst over whether or not she's doing/saying/feeling the right thing...whether it's reacting to people who are hurting (her brother, women in the community who have lost loved ones in the war, etc.) or whether she's being selfish wanting Joseph to stay at home after being wounded or if she's going all maudlin over the fact that life has changed (because war) and why (please insert as much whine as you can on that word) can't life just be like it used to be?

Too much introspection and self-doubt. I mean, yeah, I understand that watching the young men you grew up with die (Joseph on the front lines) OR reading the lists of the missing and killed (those back home) would make you question a lot things you took for granted...but this is supposed to be a historical mystery not high drama and conscience-searching.

It is taking For-Ev-ER to get to anything even slightly resembling "gumshoe work" or "mystery" (referred to in blurb on back of book). Constant references to the Peacemaker who killed Joseph Reavley's parents--but no actual trying to track down said Peacemaker. No actual detecting. There are rumors that a murder is gonna take place somewhere in this book....but not sure when. Made it to the 100 page mark (that first third of the book really drags--it felt much longer)...finally the mystery is going to start! Let's see if things pick up.

Actually, no. The "gumshoe work" really takes a back seat to everything else here. Don't get me wrong--I'm not opposed to dramatic historical fiction. BUT. Don't plaster your book with blurbs advertising what a suspenseful thriller this is with mystery and detection all over the place when that's really not the focus of the story at all. Solving the mystery of who killed the scientist is almost an afterthought. More attention is given to the difficulty Joseph faces when he realizes who the culprit is than is given to following the processes of detection that led him to that conclusion. the third book in the series you'd think that Matthew and Joseph would have made some sort of substantial progress on hunting down the Peacemaker.

On the plus side, Perry does know human relationships and has a way of writing about them that can be quite appealing. I just wish she didn't feel the need to go at the inner workings so hard and heavy OR if she does feel that need, then I'd like to see her do a straight fiction novel. I will say that I do like the representations of the Reavley brothers...and I might even like Hannah more if she could break out of her introspection. This is a complicated family with a lot going on which makes them very interesting. ★★ which would have been more if the mystery elements had been stronger.

[Finished 8/28/18]

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