Click here to read reviewer Michael Leonard's take on A Killing of Angels.
Rhodes returns with a new thriller featuring psychologist Alice Quentin (from Crossbones Yard) in a series of a macabre murders. All are marked by the face of an angel left conspicuously at each crime scene along with a scattering of white feathers, a cryptic message to be untangled by investigators. London swelters in a heat wave as Quentin attends to patients in a stuffy hospital office when a harrowing investigation is set in motion by the first spectacular murder: a successful banker pushed to his death while waiting for a commuter train, his shattered body sprawled across the tracks. Lifeless, unblinking eyes stare at the ticking face of his Rolex watch, still attached to a dismembered arm.
As in the last novel, Detective Don Burns appears in Quentin’s office to request her assistance in determining the motivation of the killer. And, just as before, Alice is constitutionally incapable of resisting such requests, a complicated woman who deals with her own demons by running, whether late at night through darkened London streets or sprinting down the stairs after work into the stifling air of a city trapped in a heat wave.
Alice has not yet worked through the trauma from her former association with Burns and the swath of violence unleashed on her and her loved ones, throwing herself into routine and obligations as a palliative to anxiety. Though physically as imposing as ever, Burns has shed a good deal of his heavier self, a weight loss that shocks Alice as much as his announcement that his wife has sought a divorce. Arriving at the squad room with Burns, Quentin is conscious of her own slight build next to an old school detective out of sync with the new ways of police work, the computer searches and reams of documents to be filled out during a case, the demands for quick solutions, the rising costs of investigations and manpower.
Unlike the prostitutes featured in Crossbones Yard, A Killing of Angels segues to the well-heeled members of Angel Bank in the heart of London’s teeming financial district. High living, high-income victims quickly capture the attention of the tabloids, ratcheting up the fears of the public as one after another example is chosen, each accompanied by an angel image and a sprinkling of feathers. Anyone connected to Angel Bank is fair game, from a new hire to the bank’s elegant PR maven—even the narcissistic bank owner safe in the city.
From one grisly tableau to another, Alice works desperately to define the psychology of the murderer and pinpoint the identity of the killer, often on her own in pursuit of information. Considering that one of her patients is also stalking her, Quentin’s denial of reality thrusts her into danger she cannot possibly anticipate. What were fairly quirky traits before—the midnight runs, the refusal to acknowledge threat—are less attractive this time, Alice apparently unable to learn valuable lessons about self-preservation. From the striking crime scenes to the upper echelons of society where the wealthy inhale the rarified air of privilege, from Alice’s messy private life to the near-breach of her carefully protected heart, Rhodes fashions another fast-paced thriller—this one embellished with the beatific visions of the seraphim as Alice finds herself in a dramatic showdown, face to face with an avenging angel.