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Los Angeles    by Peter Moore Smith order for
Los Angeles
by Peter Moore Smith
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2005 (2005)

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* *   Reviewed by Shannon Bigham

Angel is not your typical male in his early thirties. He is the Albino son of extremely wealthy parents. His father is an immigrant who went from rags to riches via the film business in Los Angeles, and his mother is a model turned aging socialite. Angel's parents divorced several years ago and his father remarried and adopted a bi-racial son. Angel is an outsider, of sorts, in his own family. He has a host of mental problems, which led to his dropping out of college, and he lives alone in a shabby apartment, where he ostensibly is writing a screenplay.

In reality, Angel spends his days sleeping and his nights awake as he hates the light and well, he just is not a normal, 9-to-5 type of guy. Angel seems harmless enough but he is heavily medicated (courtesy of his psychiatrist since childhood) and sometimes gets reality and fantasy mixed up, which turns his life upside down when he meets Angela, his new next door neighbor. She surprises him with a knock on his apartment door and presents him with a lamb stew, a concoction that reminds him of his mother's cooking during his youth. Angela is a tall, slim black woman with cinnamon-colored skin, fake blonde hair, glittery green fingernails and breast implants that complete her look. The pair strike up a unique friendship that leads to an undefined sexual relationship, although they certainly seem to care for each other. Since Angel's father finances his life, his time is spent as he wishes which is with Angela when she is not working (she dances at a local strip club).

Quite content with his budding relationship with Angela, Angel understandably becomes worried when she calls him one morning at 6:00 a.m.. He answers the phone, hears Angela call his name, and then the line disconnects. It appears that Angela is missing. She is not in her apartment, nor does she answer her phone. Where is she? This question plagues Angel throughout the story and is the basis of Los Angeles. Where did Angela go and why? As Angel worries that something horrible has happened to her, he's propelled into action to search for her. Based on a few weak clues, he moves through the gritty underworld of Los Angeles. Subsequent events make Angel question who Angela really is and whether she is real. In his search for Angela, Angel learns that many truths in his life are actually mere suppositions and things are not always what they seem.

I found Los Angeles to be an engrossing tale of psychological suspense. While the plot dragged a bit in the middle of the book, Angel is a unique, sympathetic character and the author does a good job of walking the line between reality and fantasy. Some interesting plot twists will keep readers guessing to the very end.

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