"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested." (Francis Bacon)

Friday, October 28, 2005

Blood of Angels

Title: Blood of Angels
Author: Michael Marshall (Smith)

This is the third in The Straw Men Trilogy. The first, The Straw Men, was full of shock and suspense as a worldwide conspiracy was slowly revealed. The next, The Upright Man, was full of suspense and gore and while it didn't have the surprise of the first, since the conspiracy was known, the horror was higher because we knew how depraved the killers were. This third continues in that vein, but seems smaller somehow, concentrating on one case of a possible serial killer, and side stories involving teen drug dealers and an older, former assassin. Somehow, all three elements come together, as the reader knows they must. And as in the previous books, Marshall's skill with words carries the reader through to the somewhat ambiguous ending.

Ward Hopkins, a former CIA staffer, and Nina Baynam, an FBI agent, are lured from their idyllic hideaway after the events of the previous novel when Nina's boss asks her to help in the investigation of a murder in a small Virginia town where such crimes are most unusual. Complicating things is word that Ward's brother, Paul, the serial killer known as the Upright Man, has escaped custody. Paul is one of the Straw Men, killers who believe violence is more in human nature than civilization and they are determined to restore the world to its supposedly natural, violent state.

There is a danger in sequels, especially when the message was received loud and clear in the previous book(s), and this book, to me, is the weakest of the three. But I've long ago come to love these characters and I love Marshall's way with words, both of which made this book a compulsive read. The book has more than its share of gore, but if you don't mind that, you can't go wrong with this author's books.

He's using Michael Marshall for his non-science fiction books and his full name of Michael Marshall Smith is what his science fiction appeared under. He dropped the Smith to avoid confusion with Martin J. Smith who wrote a book called Straw Men around the same time The Straw Men was published.

I haven't decided on what to read next, so am reading my gym book for both my work commute and at the gym. Therefore, I won't change the sidebar reading until I choose the next subway book.