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by Kate Rhodes
Minotaur Books, February 2014
326 pages
ISBN: 125001431X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

London is in the middle of the worst heatwave in fifty years. Psychologist Alice Quentin is working sixteen hours a day with people whose grip on normality is precarious at best. Budget restraints have curtailed group therapy sessions, leaving one member of a disbanded anger management group so furious with Dr Quentin that he assaults her in the lobby of her workplace and continues to appear unexpectedly. A serial killer is at work, the victims all associated with the Angel Group, a private bank located in the heart of London's financial district. And DCI Don Burns has, once again, asked Alice, a woman with her own dark memories and recurring nightmares, to enter the bleak world of murder and mayhem and aid him in his investigation.

Readers were first introduced to Alice Quentin and DCI Burns in Kate Rhodes' debut novel CROSSBONES YARD. Since he and Alice last met, Detective Burns has been demoted, lost weight, and become a streamlined version of his former self. Brought forward into this second book in the series are Alice's brother Will, a bipolar drug addict, Alice's emotionally distant and judgmental mother, and Alice's best friend Lola, a beautiful aspiring actress whose enthusiasm for life serves as a welcome counterpoint to an otherwise dark and melancholy cast of characters. Alice, an attractive, thirty-something professional woman is intelligent and independent. She is - in the truest sense of the word - a runner. The physical act of running is her lifeline, her solace, and what anchors her to earth, and running serves to keep at bay the complexities of her past and present life that threaten at times to overwhelm her. In A KILLING OF ANGELS, Alice is given a new love interest: Andrew Piernan, a wealthy, attractive philanthropist with past ties to the Angel Group.

A businessman is pushed off the crowded platform of a Tube station just as a train arrives. In his pocket police find white feathers and a postcard depicting a close-up of an angel's face. It soon becomes apparent that a killer with a fascination for angels is after the employees of Angel Group, a private investment bank that seems to be holding tightly to its own secrets. The press is having a heyday, playing to the public's distrust and dislike of bankers in general, and members of the police investigative teams are at odds with one another and hostile and suspicious of Alice's participation in the investigation. Added to the mix is a beautiful, highly-paid prostitute whose clientele includes many of Angel Group's executives.

A KILLING OF ANGELS was well-paced and entertaining. The background information on angels as emotionless avengers was interesting. It felt as though the ending were rushed, and not quite well-fitted to the information readers were provided early on. I do think Rhodes continues to short-change Alice Quentin, giving her instances of cluelessness which undermine her strengths, and there are places where more development is needed to make the relationships between the characters - including, in this instance, the love story - credible. Still, I am willing to go forward with Dr Quentin and Don Burns (who has become much more interesting in this second work) and see what might come as the series develops.

P.D. Crumbaker lives in Tallahassee, Florida, where she works as an editor for a legal publication.

Reviewed by P.D. Crumbaker, January 2014

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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