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Angel Baby: A Novel

Angel Baby: A Novel

3.7 7
by Richard Lange

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**Winner of the International Association of Crime Writers' Dashiell Hammett Award**

A woman goes on the run in this intense and cinematic thriller by an award-winning writer.

To escape the awful life she has descended into, Luz plans carefully. She takes only the clothes on her back, a Colt .45, and all the money in her husband's safe. The


**Winner of the International Association of Crime Writers' Dashiell Hammett Award**

A woman goes on the run in this intense and cinematic thriller by an award-winning writer.

To escape the awful life she has descended into, Luz plans carefully. She takes only the clothes on her back, a Colt .45, and all the money in her husband's safe. The corpses in the hallway weren't part of her plan.

Luz needs to find the daughter she left behind years earlier, but she knows she may die trying. Her husband is El Principe, a key player in a high-powered drug cartel, a business he runs with the same violence he has used to keep Luz his perfect, obedient wife.

With the pace and relentless force of a Scorsese film, ANGEL BABY is the newest masterpiece from one of the most ambitious and talented crime novelists at work today.

This edition of Angel Baby includes a bonus short story, "Must Come Down."

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

The plot explodes.... You know you're in the hands of a real writer."
—Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review"

Opens with a trigger-snap of trouble and blasts forward with the propulsive force of a bullet and never stops moving."
—Benjamin Percy, Esquire"

Thrilling and cinematic, told as one long chase scene."
—Christian DuChateau, CNN"

A fast-paced thrill ride."
—Cameron Martin, Daily Beast"

One lean, tough novel. Lange's prose is sharp throughout and his pacing moves with the momentum of rolling thunder."
—Derek Hill, Mystery Scene"

A rising star.... Lange embraces classic noir in all its violence, bleakness, and dark humor. He makes readers care about his flawed characters and appreciate the odds that were stacked against them by the circumstances of their upbringing. A film waiting to happen, this book boasts memorable characters, evocative settings, and a suspenseful plot."

A forceful read....Richard Lange's gripping novel is full of compelling characters, including a manipulative Mexican drug lord, a treacherous hit man, and sleazy border opportunists, but at the heart of this fast-moving story is Luz."
—-Don Mann, author of Inside SEAL Team Six"

Angel Baby starts off in a sprint and never slows down. Richard Lange is a natural-born storyteller. What an excellent novel, both suspenseful and surprisingly moving."
—-Ron Rash, author of The Cove"

This novel should come with a warning....The sentences flash like switchblades, the chapters rattle off like gunfire. Make all the comparisons you like — Cormac McCarthy, Dennis Lehane, Martin Scorsese — but Richard Lange is a force of his own, the high standard for crime fiction."
—-Benjamin Percy, author of Red Moon"

Richard Lange has a PhD in badass, and in Angel Baby he leads the reader through every can't-look, can't-look-away corner of treachery and sleaze, violence and danger. Lange stands out as the greatest young crime writer of his generation, precisely because he doesn't write crime-he writes literature."
—-Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight"

Angel Baby is a bone-crushing nightmare parable: bad people doing the wrong things for love."
—-Warren Ellis, author of Gun Machine

The New York Times Book Review - Marilyn Stasio
When you find yourself rooting for the killer in a grisly crime novel, you know you're in the hands of a real writer. Every character in Richard Lange's Angel Baby feels like flesh and bone, even the ones who show up just to be killed.
Publishers Weekly
The rambling plot of Lange’s second crime novel will remind many of the work of Elmore Leonard. Desperate to escape her life as the caged mistress of violent Mexican drug lord Rolando, Luz plans carefully and waits for her moment. Preparation and ruthlessness let her vanish with a backpack full of money, leaving the corpses of two of Rolando’s faithful employees in her wake. By the time Luz is missed, she has arranged to be ferried into the U.S. by Malone, a self-destructive drunk. Enraged, Rolando has “El Apache” retrieved from a Mexican prison and orders the reluctant criminal to use his American citizenship to follow Luz to the States and drag her back to Rolando. As an extra incentive, Rolando makes it clear that El Apache’s wife and child will pay the price for failure. More polished than his first novel, This Wicked World, Lange’s follow-up marks him as a crime novelist to watch. Agent: Henry Dunow, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency. (May)
The Omaha World-Herald
"He's writing about the outcasts and fringe dwellers, and doing so with grace and beauty...This thriller keeps the tension building from the opening scene through the heart-wrenching conclusion...This is a novel full of thrills, grit and often sadness - a novel that should be at the top of any thriller or crime fan's reading list this summer. Lange's the real deal, whatever label you choose for him."
Kirkus Reviews
A rising star in neonoir, Lange follows up his 2009 novel, This Wicked World, with a sharply calibrated and affecting tale about a young Mexican beauty who will do anything to reclaim the baby daughter she left in Los Angeles. The woman, Luz, survived a hard upbringing in Tijuana only to fall under the control of an abusive Mexican drug lord, Rolando, aka "El Principe." After going to great lengths to convince him she is devoted to him, she sneaks off with a pile of his money, killing two of his household staff with his gun. She hires Malone, an American who makes a living smuggling Mexicans across the border, to drive her to California. They are quickly pursued by Jerónimo, a one-time LA gang member whom Rolando springs from a Tijuana prison to bring back Luz, and Thacker, a corrupt U.S. Border Patrol agent. Jerónimo, a reformed soul whose wife and daughter are being held by Rolando until he returns with Luz, strikes an uneasy alliance with the slovenly, unreformed Thacker: He'll get Luz, and the border cop will get the money. Malone, who is haunted by memories of seeing his own little girl run over by a car, becomes committed to Luz. The twisting plot thickens when Rolando orders Jerónimo to bring back Luz's child as well. Unlike most such stories, this book is driven not by greed or revenge but by parenthood, and Lange doesn't subscribe to the usual moral checks and balances. In all other ways, however, he embraces classic noir in all its violence, bleakness and dark humor. He makes readers care about his flawed characters and appreciate the odds that were stacked against them by the circumstances of their upbringing. A film waiting to happen, this book boasts memorable characters, evocative settings and a suspenseful plot.

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Little, Brown and Company
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Read an Excerpt

Angel Baby

A Novel

By Richard Lange

Little, Brown and Company

Copyright © 2014 Richard Lange
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-316-21982-2


Luz didn't think things through the first time she tried to get away. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision. One night Rolando beat her so badly that she peed blood, and the next morning, as soon as he and his bodyguards left the house, she limped downstairs and out the front door, across the yard, and through the gate in the high concrete fence that surrounded the property.

Barefoot and wearing only panties and a black silk robe, she stumbled down the street, trying to hail a taxi. The drivers slowed and stared, but none would stop. Tears of frustration blurred her vision. She tripped and fell but got quickly back to her feet. Scraped knees and skinned palms wouldn't keep her from Isabel's third birthday party. She was determined to be there, no matter what. She'd appear at the front door with a giant pink cake and an armful of gifts and, oh, wouldn't Isabel be surprised to see her?

Maria, the housekeeper, stuck her head out of the gate and shouted for her to stop. Luz tried to run, but the pills that got her through the day back then made her feel like she was slogging through mud. Maria caught up to her before she reached the corner and grabbed her by the hair. Luz fought back, kicking and clawing, but then El Toro, the house guard, was there too.

"Help me," Luz called to a man on a bicycle. "Please," to a woman pushing a stroller, but they, like the taxi drivers, ignored her. This was Tijuana, see, and if you valued your life and the lives of your family, you minded your own business. El Toro and Maria dragged her back to the house. They locked her in her room and laughed at her vows to get even.

Rolando killed her dog when they told him that she'd run away. He stormed into the bedroom and yanked Pepito from her arms, placed the heel of his boot on the toy poodle's head, and crushed its skull. Then he forced Luz to the floor, twisted her arms up behind her back, and raped her there on the white shag carpet.

"Why do you make me do these things?" he screamed at her when he finished. "Why do you make me hate myself?"

It will be different this time. In the year since she last made a run for it, Luz has been putting together a plan, and now, finally, she's ready. Isabel turns four next Tuesday, and Mommy will be there to watch her blow out the candles on her birthday cake, or Mommy will die trying.

She pretends to be asleep when Rolando comes out of the bathroom. He squeezes her foot through the sheet.

"Hey, Sleepy, time for breakfast."

"Mmmmm," Luz says. "Give me a minute."

He's dressed for business in a dark suit, white shirt, and shiny black cowboy boots. Luz has consulted the calendar on his desk and committed today's schedule to memory: An 11 a.m. meeting at Las Rocas Resort with Mr. Volkers from San Diego to talk about opening another KFC franchise. Lunch at the same place with Alvarez, his attorney, then on to Ensenada to see Flaco. Though it says on the calendar that they'll be discussing horses, the real topic will be a shipment of heroin from Apatzingán. Luz has been listening closely to her husband over the last year and has learned all of his nicknames and code words. So Flaco and the dope, and afterward dinner with the whore he keeps down there. This means he won't be home until at least nine.

When he goes downstairs, Luz crawls out of bed and walks into the bathroom to wash her face. The room still reeks of his shit. She brushes her long black hair until it shines, lifting it off the back of her neck to glance at the words tattooed there, Angel Baby. She convinced Rolando to let her get the tattoo by telling him it was her pet name for him. In reality, it's the title of a song she used to sing to Isabel during the year they had together. She's been careful never to let Rolando find out about the little girl because she knows he'd use anything she loved as a weapon against her or a chain to bind her more tightly to him.

Wrapping herself in a white robe, she leaves the bedroom. Her footsteps echo in the two-story foyer as she walks down the marble staircase. On the street Rolando is known as El Príncipe, the Prince, and this is his palace. A four- thousand-square-foot house with five bedrooms, six bathrooms, faux granite and gold leaf everywhere, leather and stainless steel. Everything is expensive but nothing goes with anything else. Rolando decorated by pointing at pictures in magazines. A fake Picasso hangs above a scorpion made of rusted iron. A $10,000 couch from Milan sits between two La-Z-Boy recliners with massage motors and heated cushions. And the house itself is so poorly constructed, new cracks appear in the walls every day. It's a stucco-and-laminate fantasy that won't last much longer than Rolando does.

He stands and pulls out a chair for her when she enters the dining room. Such a gentleman this morning. It's because she let him fuck her last night and even went to the trouble of thrashing and moaning as if she were enjoying it. She wants him to think everything is perfect between the two of them when he leaves today. She fumbles with her napkin, yawns, and looks somewhat confused about exactly where she is, playing the stoned princess to the hilt. It's an act she's perfected in the six months since she managed to wean herself off the pills, the Xanax and Valium, Vicodin and Oxycontin, that used to keep her from adding up her sins and hanging herself in the shower.

She threw away the dope because she needed a clear head to plan her escape and because she didn't want to be strung out when she finally got free, but she's kept Rolando thinking that she's using. He'd become suspicious if he discovered she'd stopped, and besides, he likes her high. It makes him feel superior.

He returns to his chair across the table from her, and she smiles and asks in a sleepy baby voice when he's going to take her shopping for the shoes she showed him on TV the other night.

"Shoes?" he says. "You think I have time to think about shoes?"

She plays the game, scrunching her face into a pout and whining, "But you said, Papi. You said I could have them."

"I did?"

"You know you did. But when?"

"How about when we fly to Acapulco this weekend?"

"Acapulco!" Luz exclaims and claps her hands.

It wasn't easy quitting the drugs. In fact, to this day there are moments like this when her mind and body beg for the distance they provided. When this happens, she conjures the face of her daughter and prays to it as fervently as a primitive supplicating the only star in a pitch-black sky.

Maria bustles in from the kitchen carrying a platter of pan dulce and a bowl of fruit salad.

"Good morning, señora," she says to Luz, sweet as can be. They've made peace since Luz tried to walk away, or at least Maria thinks they have. Luz has done her best to convince the housekeeper that she barely remembers that day, but she still can't tell if she's bought it. The woman is hard to read.

Maria lifts the carafe from the table and fills Luz's cup with coffee. The sleeve of her blouse slides up to reveal a scar on her arm. It's from an injury she got in prison, where she did time for fencing stolen goods. She was the mother of one of Rolando's boyhood friends, a kid named Gato who was killed early in Rolando's rise. Gato made Rolando swear he'd take care of his mother if anything happened to him, and Rolando kept the promise by hiring the woman to oversee his household.

"Do you need anything else, señora?" Maria asks Luz.

"No, gracias," Luz replies.


"No, Maria. Gracias," Rolando says.

The woman returns to the kitchen, and Rolando spoons fruit salad onto a plate and hands the plate to Luz. One of the parrots he keeps caged in the living room squawks, "My name is Gladiator! My name is Gladiator!"

"Where are you going, all dressed up?" Luz says.

"To fight a bull, what do you think," Rolando says, then bites into a pastry.

Luz pokes at her fruit. Her stomach is tight with anticipation and worry, but she manages to swallow a piece of pineapple, makes sure Rolando sees her eating.

"And you?" he says with food in his mouth, the fucking pig. "Let me guess: a massage? A manicure?"

"Both," Luz says with a laugh. "Why not?"

"It's a good life, no?"

"A good life," Luz says, the words burning her tongue. She reaches across the table and takes one of Rolando's hands in both of hers.

Rolando lifts a red rose from the vase on the table and slips it into her hair above her ear. He smiles and starts to say something tender, but then his phone rings, and his eyes go ice-cold. The human thing is all an act. He can turn it on and off like that. What he is inside is a monster, a shark, something soulless and ravenous. He stands and walks out of the room, barks "Qué?" into the phone.

El Toro, the guard who helped drag Luz back last year, lumbers in and grabs a sugary concha off the plate of pastries. Luz can feel the man's contempt for her, the boss's dope-fiend whore of a wife, has always felt it.

"Tell El Príncipe the car is ready," he says before walking back to the kitchen.

Luz passes the message on to Rolando when he finishes the call. He kisses her on the forehead and leaves without another word. She watches from the window as he climbs into the Escalade with Ozzy and Esteban. El Toro opens the heavy iron gate and gives a quick wave as the truck drives out.

And, so, it's time.

Her first stop is the bedroom, where she turns on the television and crawls between the sheets again like she does every morning. Today, though, her fists are clenched and sweaty, her legs tensed to run.

At 10:15 there's a knock at the door.

"Yes," she croaks, making her voice froggy.

Maria pokes her head in. "Any laundry, señora?"

Luz motions to the bathroom without looking away from the TV and ignores Maria as she walks in and empties the hamper into a plastic bag and walks out again. She begins counting to thirty after the housekeeper closes the door but only gets to ten before she can't stand it anymore and pops out of bed.

She has fifteen minutes to make her escape. She knows Maria's and El Toro's schedules as well as she knows Rolando's: Maria will be in the laundry room at the back of the house, and El Toro sneaks off to the garage every day from 10 to 10:30 to watch a soap opera on a little TV he keeps out there.

She dresses quickly in jeans, a T-shirt, and tennis shoes. No makeup, no jewelry. A fleece jacket and a pink baseball cap, nothing more, go into a zebra- striped backpack, something a child would carry to school. She's traveling fast and light. Anything else she needs she can pick up when she reaches the U.S. Heart pounding, she opens the door and checks the hall, then quietly descends the stairs. A radio plays in the room where Maria is sorting clothes, the DJ telling a dirty joke.

When she reaches the ground floor, she hurries to Rolando's office and slips inside. On the walls are shelves of books the man has never read, the heads of animals somebody else shot, and paintings of sailing ships and knights in armor bought in bulk by a decorator. The only personal addition is a large framed photograph of a dark-haired woman lying nude on a bed, legs spread wide. Rolando likes to tell people that it reminds him of Luz.

As soon as the door closes behind her, Luz relaxes a bit. She's been in here on numerous dry runs during the past few months, and now it's only a matter of following her plan. She goes to the big wooden desk and picks up the letter opener, a German World War II dagger with a swastika engraved on the handle, and uses it to pry open the lock on the top drawer. Inside is a fluorescent green Post-it with the name Angelina and a phone number scrawled on it. Angelina is the name Rolando's mother gave to a daughter who died more than twenty years ago, the one the whole family now reveres as a stillborn saint, and the number, entered backward, is the combination to the wall safe, which is hidden behind a painting of a wolf hunt: men with fur hats riding in sleds, rifles, bloody snow.

Luz sets the painting on the floor and punches the numbers into the safe's keypad. The lock clicks, and the safe swings open. Inside are stacks and stacks of rubber-banded U.S. currency, hundreds and twenties, and a shiny silver gun, Rolando's custom-engraved, silver-plated Colt .45. Snakes twine around skulls on the barrel, and an image of Santa Muerte is carved in ivory on the grip. Luz transfers the money, all of it, to the backpack and lays the gun on top. Bowing her head, she murmurs a childhood prayer, and God's name is still on her lips as she grabs the pack, stands, and opens the office door.

"You dropped this, señora," Maria says, holding out the rose that Rolando stuck in Luz's hair at breakfast. "Out here, in the hallway."

El Toro stands behind the woman, a mean grin on his ugly face. He's looking forward to hurting her. Both of them are. And then Rolando will finish the job.

Luz backs up and reaches into the pack for the .45. Rolando taught her how to use it on the house's basement firing range. At first he had to force her, because she couldn't stand the sound and the thump in her chest when the gun went off, but over the past year, thinking it was a skill that might come in handy during her escape, she's practiced whenever she could and become a pretty decent shot.

She racks the slide and points the .45 with both hands, doesn't flinch at the BOOM BOOM BOOM when she squeezes the trigger. Maria flies backward into El Toro, a jagged black hole under her left eye, a bloody volcano erupting out of the back of her head. The other two rounds hit El Toro in the chest and throat. He and the housekeeper go down together, tangled in death.

The horror of what she's just done paralyzes Luz for an instant, like an icy hand suddenly gripping her neck. When she can move again, she drops the gun into the backpack and steps over the bodies, being careful not to look down at them. There's only one thought in her head: Isabel. When the big front door doesn't open on the first try, she panics and jerks the knob a few times before realizing that the deadbolt is engaged. A second later she's on the porch. Four seconds later she's out the gate and on the street. Ten seconds later she's gone, another scrap swept up in the noisy, stinking whirl of the city.


Malone steps out of his motel room, and the sun surprises him like an unexpected slap in the face. He wobbles a bit, then sets off for the OXXO store down the road to buy something to take the edge off.

On the hill above the motel is the dog track, Agua Caliente. Malone has Freddy put him up out here so he can walk to the races while killing time before a run. Better than being downtown, where some whore always manages to slip her hand into his pocket. At least this way he might get lucky and make a little money instead of spending every last dollar on pussy, coke, and shitty tequila that comes out of a Patrón bottle but damn sure isn't Patrón.

Traffic is heavy on Paseo de los Héroes. Trucks coughing up clouds of exhaust, cars with blaring radios, scooters buzzing like angry insects. If Malone stuck out his hand, he could touch the river of rattling steel. One step and he'd be swallowed up by it and torn to shreds before he knew what hit him.

It's that kind of morning. He arrived in Tijuana last night, took the trolley down, and started drinking without dinner at a soccer bar across the street from the motel. When the joint closed and they threw him out, he somehow made it back to his room, saw his true face in the mirror, began to weep, passed out, and woke up in hell.

A buzzer sounds when he enters the convenience store. Neatly shelved cans of tuna and beans and menudo show off their labels beneath fluorescent lights that are reflected in the freshly waxed floor. There's a whole rack of instant noodles, a whole aisle of potato chips. Microwave burritos and cheeseburgers, a soft drink dispenser. It's almost exactly like a 7-Eleven or AMPM in the States. Too much like one.

Malone walks to the cooler for a six-pack of Tecate and a quart of Gatorade. The girl at the register smiles briefly before ringing up his purchases. She's wearing a red and yellow uniform, and her hair is pulled back into a tight bun. Very professional. She tells him how much he owes in Spanish, then English.

Malone is dressed like a typical gabacho, in knee-length Bermuda shorts, a tourist T-shirt from Cabo San Lucas, and flip-flops. It's his way of blending in. Every third American down here looks exactly like him. The scraggly blond hair, the sunglasses. A surfer who's somewhat off course. He glances at a digital clock on the wall: 10:31 a.m.

"Is that the real time?" he asks the girl.

Excerpted from Angel Baby by Richard Lange. Copyright © 2014 Richard Lange. Excerpted by permission of Little, Brown and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

Warren Ellis
Angel Baby is a bone-crushing nightmare parable: bad people doing the wrong things for love.— Warren Ellis, author of Gun Machine
Jerry Stahl
Richard Lange has a PhD in badass, and in Angel Baby he leads the reader through every can't-look, can't-look-away-corner of treachery and sleaze, violence and danger, with a level of detail and authority so overpowering, so spot-on in every nuance of criminal speech and casual savagery that it would surprise absolutely no one to discover the author did some kind of time on the dark side himself before scrapping his sawed-off for a laptop. From the opening paragraph, Lange ratchets up the tension, and doesn't let up until the last realer-than-real, punch-in-the throat scene. I loved this book — and can't wait until his next one. Lange stands out as the greatest young crime writer of his generation, precisely because he doesn't write crime — he writes literature. Dark, true, wild-ass, and un-f**king-put-downable.— Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight and Bad Sex on Speed
Ron Rash
Angel Baby starts off in a sprint and never slows down. Richard Lange is a natural-born storyteller. What an excellent novel, both suspenseful and surprisingly moving.— Ron Rash, author of Serena and The Cove

Meet the Author

Richard Lange is the author of the story collection Dead Boys, which received an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the novel This Wicked World. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and his fiction has appeared in Best American Mystery Stories 2004 and 2011. He lives in Los Angeles.

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Angel Baby: A Novel 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
PeggyReads More than 1 year ago
First, I must thank the publisher for providing our book club with copies of this book in exchange for our honest feedback.   Angel Baby is the story of a young woman who left her baby daughter with relatives when she married a Mexican drug lord.  After 3 years, she has learned that she has made a mistake, and decides to leave Mexico and her husband to reunite with her daughter.  She has tried to leave him before, only to be brought back.  This time, she makes better plans, and she leaves better prepared (to include taking all of the money in her husband’s safe).  She ends up crossing the border with a surfer-type has-been.  They are being followed by a man her husband has sent to bring her back and a border patrolman who wants the money.  The author has done a great job of making the characters realistic – and I found myself hoping that everything would turn out OK for several of them.  The book started fast – and kept up the pace and I was able to finish it rather quickly.
Kiribear13 More than 1 year ago
Let me just say WOW! This book was phenomenal. I won this book in a first reads giveaway, but it was one that I gladly would have paid for by description alone. Angel Baby is based around a woman named Luz who is married to a Tijuana drug cartel key player, but runs away to try to get back to her daughter in the US. Many men for varying selfish reasons stand in her way between her frantic run for a life with her daughter. This book read like a movie. I was drawn into the story, there for every emotion. every scene. I could envision all of it happening before my eyes. The mother in me wanted to hate Luz for her selfish reason for abandoning her daughter and then to want to rip her from her life so she can have her back years later, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. I found myself rooting for her the whole way, wanting her to make it, it was a gripping journey. Richard Lange (The brilliant author of this book, whom I just realized I hadn't given credit to yet), did an amazing job in capturing so many aspects of cartel life and Tijuana without overdoing it. He was able to transport me right there with each of the characters. There was definite lead up throughout the book to keep it interesting. I was thinking that I could guess what was going to happen next and he was great at throwing an unexpected curve ball just when I was playing into a path that seemed predictable. The descriptions of locations are enough for me to envision, but not over exaggerated to the point that I found my self skipping through text to get back to the good stuff. The actions was wonderfully dispersed throughout the book. Lange never left a dull moment, but still allowed for enough lead up to have the book keep it's hooks in you until the end. I honestly found myself staying up later, with my eyes barely open just to grasp another chapter. I am ecstatic that I was able to be introduced into Lange's writing and am looking forward to checking out his other novels! I highly recommend. An easy 5/5 at the very least, if not more. In a search for a cover photo I came across a hopefully true article that stated that Warner Brothers has already acquired writes to the book for making it into a movie! It was written so well, that I felt like it already was a movie, so I hope that it can be done as beautifully on screen!
gloriafeit More than 1 year ago
This newest book by Richard Lange is unlike most of the books I’ve read recently. Very dark, filled with people who have lived brutal lives, with the only driving forces apparently the accumulation of money and power, and their children. To say that corruption is rampant on every conceivable level in the Mexican towns where the main characters live is a vast understatement, and is taken for granted by all. Among the main characters is Luz, virtually held prisoner in the Tijuana mansion owned by Rolando, a man connected to the drug cartel who is known as el Principe, or The Prince. But though she may die trying, she is determined to somehow find a way to escape and be with her daughter for her upcoming fourth birthday. She had not seen the child for three years, and any effort she had made to escape was met with violence and even more stringent confinement. This time, having managed to break her addiction to pills, she appears to have succeeded, at no small cost, leaving with only the clothes on her back and the money she steals from her husband’s safe as well as the gun that accompanied it, and two dead bodies lying on the floor of the house. We soon meet Kevin Malone, 35 years old, who lives in LA and appears to be a typical surfer with scraggly blond hair, and who comes to Tijuana once or twice a month to drive a load of illegals across the border into the US at $500 each. Always in debt because of his gambling habit, he takes on other jobs that come his way, all equally illegal. Another principal player is Jeronimo Cruz, known as El Apache, who is hired by El Principe to find Luz and bring her back. The degree of brutality of which each of these is capable may vary greatly; they all are killers, but gradually each draws the reader’s empathy. Luz and Jeronimo are each loving parents, seeking only to be reunited with their children. A lesson they learn: Never love anything too much. Despite the relentless brutality with which the novel begins, it draws the reader in and is a true page-turner, especially in its final chapters. One somehow becomes inured to the cruelty and violence, and invested in the characters somehow being able to defeat the circumstances in which they find themselves. Recommended.
HaystackersWife More than 1 year ago
Fascinating read. I received this novel from Goodreads' First Reads Program. This novel was enthralling. I was constantly figuring out how it would end. I really liked Luz and Jeronimo -- and even Malone. I really wondered who would triumph. The main characters were fascinating and I was glad to find the author delved just enough into their backstory to make them jump off the page and into "real" life. I believe my heart was in my throat the entire time I was reading this book. Fascinating read. Has a mix of romance, mystery, and definitely lots of intrigue!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Angel Baby was a good, but not great, thriller. While characters had motivation, and most had something likable about them, none were developed well enough to make me care too much what happened to them. That said, a thriller is not necessarily supposed to be too heavy on character development, focusing more on action and suspense. In those areas the book did well, and kept the pages turning quickly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Way below the standards of John Sandford, Lee Child, Charles McCarry, and the list goes on. Not worth the money.