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Death Angel    by Linda Howard order for
Death Angel
by Linda Howard
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2008 (2008)
*   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Drea Rousseau is desperate to forget the squalor and heartbreak of her childhood and has worked hard to reinvent herself. For the past few years, she's been drug lord Rafael Salinas's mistress and arm candy. It's an image she herself has worked hard to maintain - so much the easier for her to steal from or learn certain things about Salinas without him realizing what she's really up too. Drea knows that the drug lord will eventually tire of her. When that day comes, she has no intention of being escorted from his luxury apartment by one of his thugs and then thanked for her years of service with a bullet to the back of the head. That day comes sooner than she realises - to curry an assassin's favour, Salinas sells him her services for the afternoon.

More horrified over her reaction to the assassin's demands than by Salinas's vile betrayal, Drea realises she must revise her original timetable. With her small stash of jewels as well as a few million of Salinas's in hand, she makes a run for it. Unfortunately, the shadowy assassin is soon hot on her trail. In an attempt to outrun him, Drea is involved in a car crash. The assassin has seen death in all its forms and recognises the exact moment Drea draws her last breath. Oddly, he feels remorse and guilt as he removes her identification to prove that Salinas no longer has to worry about her. Some weeks later, he discovers that the Jane Doe who miraculously survived a car crash is none other than Drea. Certain she's part of some unexplainable miracle, he tracks her down yet again, determined to watch over her in the event that Salinas makes the same connection he did.

In Death Angel, Howard continues what's becoming a disappointing trend of stories heavy on boring detail yet light on character development and plot. When this one finally does pick up, Howard plucks plot twists and various overused cliches out of the air in the hope that the leads' marriage will somehow pull the story together in a believable fashion. As for either character finding redemption, Howard introduces Drea's near death experience and the lessons she and the assassin learn from it far too late to effectively impact the plot. Additionally both Drea and Simon have too few scenes together for readers to believe they could fall in love, let alone atone for their sins. Howard has introduced potentially interesting themes and characters in Death Angel, but unfortunately her presentation of both lack the finesse and believability of her earlier work.

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