Broken Angels by Graham Masterton
|Broken Angels by Graham Masterton|
|Reviewer: Iain Wear|
|Summary: Masterton once again puts on his crime writer hat, but leaves his horror writer hat on underneath. A few genre cliches sneak in again, but this is a dark crime novel that was enjoyable, even if it did make me wince occasionally.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 368||Date: August 2013|
|Publisher: Head of Zeus|
|External links: Author's website|
Despite the odd reservation, the first book in his Katie Maguire series, was good enough to have me eagerly reaching for the second, Broken Angels. Whilst Masterton may have dipped into some of the female detective clichés with his debut crime thriller, he also dipped into his past as a great horror writer and the combination worked well.
From the outset, it appears that Broken Angels may share both of these traits. A couple of fishermen notice what looks like a garbage bag in the river near their fishing spot, but further investigation proves it to be a murdered priest. Father Heaney has been garrotted and bound with wire and, worst of all, castrated. Initial thoughts are that it may be a revenge killing, as Father Heaney had been one of the priests investigated a few years earlier for suspected acts of abuse whilst working as a teacher. This seems more likely when another priest is found killed and mutilated in a similar way.
This isn't going to be an easy case to handle for Katie Maguire. Senior figures within the church are determined to be as unhelpful and as misleading as they possibly can, for the secrets they hold run far deeper than mere abuse and they're keen to keep them hidden – keen enough to kill for it. Once again, Katie's personal life isn't running smoothly either, as her partner has been offered an opportunity that is too good to resist for him, but requires a major sacrifice from her to keep them together.
Once again, Masterton's past as a horror writer comes back to haunt the reader, as his depictions of the killings are inventive as well as gruesome. The crimes themselves are well worked out and the instruments and details of the torture the priests have to endure before being murdered appear on the page in almost loving detail. I have a strong stomach for horror writing, so that didn't bother me for the most part, although I did find myself reading with my legs crossed at more than one point.
Masterton doesn't waste too much time letting you get to know the characters. He understands that everybody, be they Gardai, clergy or killer, bleeds red. Masterton's descriptions of his characters are usually far more interested in the features that are removed in the commission of the crime than in the ones that are left behind. It often makes for unpleasant reading, but I've been a fan of Masterton's horror novels for long enough to like it that way.
Unfortunately, I've also been a fan of crime thriller novels to know what I'm less keen on and, sadly, Masterton also falls into that style of writing. In the genre as a whole, it often seems that fictional detectives investigating fictional crimes aren't enough. Each one has to have a back story and, in the case of female detectives, it's usually trouble with men; either their lovers or male colleagues who resent them. That's what we have here and it proves as much of a distraction for the reader as it does for Katie Maguire and ultimately, I felt, watered down what was a well plotted crime thriller with some nicely horrible touches.
Broken Angels is well worth a read, however. The least effective parts of the story are little different, and certainly no worse, than you will find in many crime thrillers out there. But much like its' predecessor, the best parts are a little darker and a little more satisfying than you often find in a standard genre thriller. Once again, Masterton has taken what he is best at and adapted it a little to fit a crime thriller and if he can keep doing that, he'll have a very good series in time. Especially if he can reduce the effect the genre has on his writing and stamp his authority on the genre instead. "
For more crime thrillers with a dark twist, Masterton's genre debut White Bones isn't a bad place to start.
You can read more book reviews or buy Broken Angels by Graham Masterton at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Broken Angels by Graham Masterton at Amazon.com.
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