Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Murder and Family Dysfunction in Coal Country

Tawni O'Dell
Gallery Books
January 5, 2016

Chief-of-police Dove Carnahan has a very big problem in her small town in rural Pennsylvania. Someone has murdered a teenage girl and left her body in one of the deserted mines in the region. What it makes it especially grisly is the smoldering fire in the mine that has partially destroyed the body. Dove knows that the State Police will take over the case, but it's her town and she plans to investigate anyway. Dove and her two siblings are no strangers to dysfunction and small town gossip. The three are the children of the beautiful town slut; each with a different father. Her mother was murdered 35 years earlier and her convicted murderer is fresh out of prison, still proclaiming his innocence and vowing to take vengeance on the three siblings who testified against him at trial. 

The girl turns out to be one of the large Truly family, a local irascible, drunken clan, ruled over by a matriarch that even the family is afraid of. The Trulys seem to hate everyone who isn't part of the family, and they don't like each other very much either. The murdered girl, Camio, is the only one of them who seems to be a success; popular, academically excellent, and striving towards college. Camio's boyfriend, of course, is the prime suspect. Dove is out to find out who did kill this seemingly inoffensive girl.

Dove has just turned 50, and managed to build a successful life in spite of her beginnings. Her sister, Neely, is a highly respected dog trainer who likes her canines much better than any human being. However, their brother, Champ, disappeared about 25 years ago and is only heard from in a yearly text or two. The three Carnahan kids have a very big secret, though, one that could destroy everything they have worked towards.

Angels Burning is a masterful thriller, one that keeps building to a revelation that literally snapped my head back. I was sure that I had it all figured out and was stunned; something that really doesn't happen often. Tawni O'Dell has a gift for misdirection, but never cheats the reader in any way. This is the beginning of a planned trilogy and I am looking forward to the next book. Camio's death is wrapped up very nicely but there are plenty of questions left to be answered.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an advance digital copy in return for an honest review.

RATING- 4.5 stars

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