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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Angels Burning

By: Tawni O'Dell ISBN: 9781501132544

Publisher: Gallery Books

Publication Date: 1/5/2016

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 3 Stars

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Oprah Book Club pick Back Roads comes this fast-paced literary thriller about a small town police chief who’s forced to dig into her own shadowy past as she investigates the murder of a teenage girl. On the surface, Chief Dove Carnahan is a true trailblazer who would do anything to protect the rural Pennsylvanian countryside where she has lived all fifty of her years. Traditional and proud of her blue-collar sensibilities, Dove is loved by her community. But beneath her badge lies a dark and self-destructive streak, fed by a secret she has kept since she was sixteen. When a girl is beaten to death, her body tossed down a fiery sinkhole in an abandoned coal town, Dove is faced with solving the worst crime of her law enforcement career. She identifies the girl as a daughter of the Truly family, a notoriously irascible dynasty of rednecks and petty criminals. During her investigation, the man convicted of killing Dove’s mother years earlier is released from prison. Still proclaiming his innocence, he approaches Dove with a startling accusation and a chilling threat that forces her to face the parallels between her own family’s trauma and that of the Trulys. With countless accolades to her credit, author Tawni O’Dell writes with the “fearless insights” (The New York Times Book Review) she brought to the page in Back Roads and One of Us. In this new, masterfully told psychological thriller, the past and present collide to reveal the extent some will go to escape their fate, and in turn, the crimes committed to push them back to where they began.

My Review

A special thank you to Gallery Books and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Tawni O’Dell returns following One of Us (2014), with another haunting suspense mystery, set in the rural Pennsylvania area. Where secrets are buried— and the past threatens to roar its ugly head in the present. Dove Carnahan a fifty-year-old tough police chief in the rural Pennsylvanian coal town. A mom’s murder has been hidden. Thirty-five years ago, the most heinous crime this town has ever seen—until today. The crime has been forgotten by most, except her children, her mother, and the man who unfairly paid for it. Dove is loved by her community; however, beneath her badge lies a dark secret, she has kept since she was sixteen. Neely, Champ, and Dove—then they moved to Gil’s mansion when they were fourteen, twelve, and nine. As the book opens, someone has stuffed a girl, beaten to death in a fiery hole in the ground. The top portion of her body had been badly burned. Her hair is gone and the damage to her skull is obvious. Hopefully she was dead before she was lit on fire. One of the worst crimes she is faced with solving. Plus, one of the worst families. Dove and Nolan are on the case (they also have a little history). To further complicate her life, the man convicted of killing Dove’s mother is released from prison, where he has spent the last thirty-give years. Years ago, her mother’s only standard for men was that they could afford her. Young, old, handsome, homely, muscly, portly, blue-collar, white-collar, married, single, educated, and as dumb as dirt: she had watched all kinds come and go. Very few of them appealed to Neely and Dove. Lucky had been a jerk from the start. Now she is dealing with the dead girl’s family – The Trulys. Camio Truly, only seventeen years old. The girl went missing and now they will need her dental records to identify her. Who would do such a horrific thing to a young girl? During her twenty-seven years in law enforcement, each homicide was committed by a family member, spouse, or significant other. At the moment, she has no idea why anyone would want Camino truly dead, but someone has to answer the question.” She wants Camio’s killer brought to justice as much as anyone—including her own family. Told from Dove’s POV, readers get the down and dirty from all the rednecks, hillbillies, and dysfunctional blue-collar families in town; mixed with wit and sass. Intertwined with the present day girl’s murder, Dove has an angry man out of prison on her trail, and demands answers why her family lied and sent him to prison. Can you say, psychological damage? The two stories connect. The ties that bind---despair, family; and the lengths they will go to protect those they love, crossing moral lines of right and wrong (victim and survivor). For me, I would not classify the novel as a psychological thriller, as much as it is a mystery; family dysfunction, and character-driven, with a feisty protagonist.

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​About the Author

Tawni O'Dell is the New York Times bestselling author of Fragile Beasts, Sister Mine, Coal Run, and Back Roads, which was an Oprah's Book Club pick and a Book-of-the-Month Club Main Selection. Tawni's screen adaptation of Back Roads is currently in development to be made into a film with Adrian Lyne set to direct. Her work has been translated into 15 languages and been published in over 30 countries. Tawni was born and raised in the coal-mining region of western Pennsylvania, the territory she writes about with such striking authenticity. She graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in journalism and spent many years living in the Chicago area before moving back to Pennsylvania where she now lives with her two children. Read More

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