The Angel Collector by Bali Rai
|The Angel Collector by Bali Rai|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: A tense psychological thriller touching on both racism and sexual perversion. Gritty and contemporary, it doesn't pull any punches. Great stuff.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 272||Date: June 2007|
|Publisher: Corgi Childrens|
It's been a year since Sophie went missing. She went to a music festival and never came home. Last seen in the company of a man calling himself Shining Moon, it's feared Sophie has - at best - fallen into the clutches of a cult. The police have drawn a blank and they hold out little hope that Sophie is even still alive. But Jit, Sophie's best friend and soulmate, can't accept that Sophie is dead and sets out to contact everyone who came into contact with her on the day she disappeared.
Jit's journey takes him from Leicester to Birmingham, London, Newcastle and eventually Scotland until finally, he discovers the horrifying truth...
Oh my giddy aunt. This is such a gripping book. I read The Angel Collector in one sitting because I simply couldn't put it down. Tied into the main narrative of Jit's desperate search for the missing Sophie are two separate strands: one following a disturbed killer, the other a series of emails and MSN conversations charting the development of the relationship between Jit and Sophie. Cleverly, one adds to the tension and the other adds some flesh to the bones of our idea of the missing girl, which otherwise comes only through the grieving lost-love prism of Jit's first-person narration.
Jit is a wonderfully sympathetic character. He is extremely bright with a genius-level IQ topping 140. But he struggles with anger management and prefers to self-deprecate than to show off. He has been in love with Sophie for as long as he can remember and it's a love tinged with twin obsessions - the desperate clinging-on of adolescent first love and the over-analysis of the highly intellectual mind. And, in the true tradition of dramatic inevitability, it will be these very two things that eventually lead Jit to the horrifying truth.
The supporting cast of characters are fully-rounded and it's not easy to know which of them can be trusted. There are plenty of clues, but only the real fans of psychological crime fiction will pick up on them too early - I certainly didn't. Both psychopathic mental illness and racism are important issues in The Angel Collector, but it isn't a parable. It's a psychological mystery thriller with the struggle of its lead character as its central theme. Ultimately, the taboo subjects are presented in a way that opens up discussion; there are motivations, but they aren't explored to the bitter end - readers are trusted to do that for themselves.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Angel Collector. It's very definitely a book for teenagers - younger children may fail to fully understand and sympathise with Jit's motivations. His is as much a search for himself as it is for Sophie. But for the teenager, it is a tense and demanding thriller that has authenticity and emotional truth and, better still, the courage to approach difficult issues head-on.
More like this, please!
My thanks to the nice people at Corgi for sending the book.
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