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A Quiet Belief in Angels    by R. J. Ellory order for
Quiet Belief in Angels
by R. J. Ellory
Order:  USA  Can
Overlook, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, Softcover, Audio, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Tour de force, according to my dictionary, is an unusually skillful or ingenious creation. This, in my opinion, is what A Quiet Belief in Angels by R. J. Ellroy is. A definite tour de force.

I happened upon this book. Hadn't heard anything about it. Thought, what the heck. Give it a try. Boy, I could hardly put it down.

The year is 1939 in Augusta Falls, Georgia. Joseph Vaughn is twelve years old. A young child has been found brutally murdered as well as sexually molested. A series of six more girls are found murdered and cut to pieces. Joseph discovered one of them and is instantly afflicted with grief and a sense of guilt for not being there to help the child.

Joseph carries this feeling with him into adulthood. No one has been caught. He mourns these children and feels if the crimes are solved the girls can go to heaven and become angels ... instead they wait, impatient. Though not sure he truly believes this, the thought keeps him aware of how fleeting life can be.

He moves to New York and writes a best seller. I will tell you no more of the plot, which is indeed ingenious. Can't spoil it for you. Although I did figure out who the culprit was, knowing did not lessen my enjoyment of this, to my mind, extraordinary work.

Ellory's use of words is melodic. His sentences virtually sing, as in 'An elderly woman sat across the aisle, her face like parchment, washed clean of its message, eyes like holes punched through daylight to find the quiet darkness beyond.' His words call up a vision of what he describes, making it almost visible. Congratulations to Mr. Ellory for a first novel that is as intriguing as it is beautiful. Please give us more.

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