A Terrible Fall of Angels is the first in a new series by Laurell K. Hamilton. It is much more akin to her early Anita Blake novels than anything she has written since Narcissus in Chains (including the Merry Gentry novels). Centering on Det. Zaniel “Havoc” Havelock, a detective in the Los Angeles police department’s Metaphysical Coordination Unit, aka the Heaven and Hell Unit. This is a Los Angeles where angels and demons walk amongst us, and children are taken from their parents at a young age by the College of Angels to be trained to speak with the angels.
Zaniel has left the College under a cloud after an incident of some sort happened. Not having any knowledge of how to cope with modern life, he somehow finds himself first enlisted in the army and then later a detective on the police force that specializes in working with cases involving the angelic and/or demonic. He can see angels of all kinds in their natural state, not just the forms that most humans can accept without losing their sanity. He can talk with them and channel their magic. All of which come in handy on the kinds of cases he works.
Things seem to be seriously awry in the City of Angels. Things that should not be possible are happening. Zaniel’s marriage is floundering even as he hopes desperately to hold on to it. Practices of the College are being called into question. It gradually becomes clear that while there is a clear mystery or case to be solved in this novel, it really serves as the jumping off point for a series.
A Terrible Fall of Angels is clearly the starting point for a much longer series – the cover art even indicates that it’s the first in a new series. And, while the case is solved, we’re left on a sort of emotional cliffhanger. It’s kind of noir-ish, but with a much clearer cut sense of what is right and wrong than you might expect from Laurell K. Hamilton. All of which is fine – I know how Laurell K. is with her writing projects. I wouldn’t have expected any different outcome, to be honest.
The long and short of it is this: if you enjoy early Anita Blake before it became so much about the sex and relationships, and was more about the pot boiler mysteries, then this series is for you. I suspect Laurell K. was listening to her fans and provided them with a novel more akin to what they were asking for. It’s fine, perfectly serviceable. And, honestly, I enjoyed it more than many of her last several novels. Do I think you should run out and buy it now at full hardback price? Probably not, but if you picked it up in the grocery store checkout line to read while waiting in the carpool line, I think you’d be satisfied with your selection.
NOTE: I want to give it a 3.5 stars, but since we can’t give halves, I’m going with 4 out of 5 stars.
NOTE 2: Click here if you’d like to see a video of Laurell K. Hamilton talking about the whys of some of the decisions she made about directions taken by the Anita Blake and Merry Gentry books. It’s really kind of fascinating.