Review: Angel Baby

Posted 29 June, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Angel Baby
By: Richard Lange
Format/Source: Hardback courtesy of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Programme

To escape the awful life she has descended into, Luz plans carefully. She takes only the clothes on her back, a Colt .45, and all the money in her husband’s safe. The corpses in the hallway weren’t part of her plan.

Luz needs to find the daughter she left behind years earlier, but she knows she may die trying. Her husband is El Principe, a key player in a high-powered drug cartel, a business he runs with the same violence he has used to keep Luz his perfect, obedient wife.

I received a copy of this novel courtesy of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers programme. The premise of this novel sounded interesting; as I mentioned in one Top Ten Tuesday list, it even reminded me of BBC America’s Orphan Black in a way because of the theme of the main character wanting to find and get back to her daughter. Of course, that’s where the comparison stops but it was enough for me to check out. Since receiving the novel, I also found out that the film rights were aquired by Warner Bros.

This novel follows a number of characters interconnected through a series of events precipitated by the main character. Luz is a determined and ballsy character who’s had a rough childhood and whose present life in no better. She’s suffered abuse under her husband, a ruthless man who handles a drug cartel. So it’s no surprise that she has a thorny demeanor, even after her assigned driver takes the extra step in ensuring that she gets across the border. It’s interesting to see how the driver, Malone, ends up genuinely helping her despite of the fact that her husband’s dangerous associates are in hot pursuit to capture her and drag her back to her husband because on the surface he seems like the type who doesn’t get invested in his passengers’ stories and who is haunted by his own past, seeking comfort in liquor. There’s also the man sent to capture Luz, Jeronimo, who is more or less coerced to the task as Rolando effectively holds his family as insurance, and Thacker, the crooked and seedy U.S. border guard who is motivated by money and favours.

Despite of this colourful cast of characters and their different motivations, they lack considerable depth, especially as the story digs further and the pursuit tightens. Luz seemed pretty straightforward as a character; after her back story was introduced and her motivation revealed, there’s nothing about the rest of the plot that ever reveals anything else about the character or provoke a sense of change or development with her. The same goes for Thacker, who remains as seedy and disgusting a character as he was when he was first introduced, and Jeronimo, whom I knew would be forced into a very tough situation and whom I knew would end choosing to save his family above anything else. Only Malone appeared to have undergone some sort of character development, choosing to help Luz the way he did. It was not part of his initial assignment so it was interesting to see how far the character was willing to go.

Angel Baby was interesting enough but the story lulled at times; I did not dislike it but nor was swept away by it. The prose had a literary feel to it that separates it from other books out there in the same genre but at the same time did not help the story when it did fall into those lull moments. It disengaged me from the overall reading experience. The characters could have been more well-developed. It would be interesting to see this play out on-screen as I felt the story would look better in that medium.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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