This isn’t a Los Angeles squad like the one we see on television’s The Closer. Fallen Angels portrays the Los Angeles Police Department in the way that it most likely operates.
Connie Dial writes from experience – she spent many years as an officer herself. She rarely gets out of bounds with her story-telling, sticking to the narration of the plot and giving her characters the color of reality. Anyone that reads a lot of crime and mystery has a good feel for authenticity. This novel rings true, depicting the Hollywood of today pretty much as one would expect. Although it took thirty-two or so pages to really get into the story, it was a breeze after that. I wouldn’t say that this was a novel I couldn’t put down, but I was always glad to get back to it and give it the attention it deserves. The details of everyday life in a police station come across with grit and shine a light on the corners of corruption which we may have come to expect in all too many cop stories.
The plot in a police procedural doesn’t always have the suspense of a true mystery in the classic Agatha Christie/Preston-Child sense. In this case the plot centers around the brutal death of a 17-year-old Hollywood starlet who is a heroin addict as well as a out-of-control party girl. There are plenty of suspects: a couple of cops who were probably involved with the little sexpot, the man who owns the party house, even a homeless man (briefly). Captain Josie Corsino investigates this one herself with the help of the only man she comes to trust in her squad, Red Behan. They both trust only one other person in the squad, Marge Bailey. The Wood is full of corruption right up to the City Councilman whose son is a suspect.
The son, a troubled artist, is also a friend of Josie’s son, who is a troubled musician. Both sons are in their twenties and trying to grow up the hard way – total rebellion. Unfortunately, Josie also faces problems with her husband who quits his job as a lawyer in the D.A.’s office to go and find some space of his own. Perhaps it’s the way of cops everywhere – personal and professional problems clash. Josie doesn’t even deign to suspect another woman. That seems to be a crack in her character—many women would likely be suspicious after the first day or two of separation. Not Josie. It stands to reason in her mind, at least, that keeping her nose to the mystery-crime grindstone is the way to go. And go she does. Day after day, night after night, she puts herself in danger and thrives on that danger. She has a great deal of personal strength and when push comes to shove, she and Red do a bang-up job of seeking answers to the myriad of clues as to who murdered Hillary, the starlet. There are so many characters and so many red herrings that at times it gets confusing. Then, Misty, Hillary’s agent is also murdered. One suspect gone.
When the City Councilman’s son commits suicide, Josie’s son and his involvement put her in a difficult position. She wants to protect him, but he is clearly involved. To what end, she isn’t sure. The conflict of being a wife and a mother is a common one, but Josie’s answer is denial and going back to work. In a professional sense she is a good judge of the people who work for her, clearly patient with dead wood and striving to keep an even hand and a level head. She loves her husband but it does seem odd that she never seems to be tempted to go and check out just what he is doing in his search for space—wherever that is.
The wind-up in this tale of sordidness in tinsel town was way too fast for me. I had to re-read the ending three times and could never figure out what Josie’s husband’s involvement with Hillary was. I didn’t understand the quickness of the solution and was left with an unfinished feeling. All in all, Fallen Angels is a fast read until you come to a screeching halt at the end.
Mary Lu is the author of Passports to Change Revisited 2012, now on Kindle. She lives in Newnan, Georgia and does research and customer service at an independent bookstore in Peachtree City. She is the author of another two novels which will soon be available on Kindle.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by The Permanent Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.