Blood of Angels

Blood of Angels

4.6 5
by Reed Arvin

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Reed Arvin's previous novel, The Last Goodbye, was "the best thing a thriller can be: suspenseful, intelligent, and well written" (Harlan Coben), and had the critics raving: People magazine stated, "You'll be hooked," and the New York Times declared it "sultry, devious, adrenaline-boosting suspense." Now comes a vivid and haunting tale

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Reed Arvin's previous novel, The Last Goodbye, was "the best thing a thriller can be: suspenseful, intelligent, and well written" (Harlan Coben), and had the critics raving: People magazine stated, "You'll be hooked," and the New York Times declared it "sultry, devious, adrenaline-boosting suspense." Now comes a vivid and haunting tale of one man's search for the truth — no matter what the consequences.

Thomas Dennehy, senior prosecutor in Davidson County, Tennessee, doesn't recognize Nashville anymore: a decade of relentless immigration means cops are learning Spanish, and the DA' s office is looking for Vietnamese translators. Thomas's latest case is prosecuting Moses Bol, a Sudanese refugee who faces the death penalty for killing a white woman in the Nations, a notorious, racially charged part of town. Bol's conviction seems certain, until a university professor claims Thomas sent the wrong man to the death chamber in a previous case. The DA' s office is rocked to its core, but within days another blow falls: a beautiful and brilliant anti-death penalty activist mysteriously surfaces as Bol's alibi, claiming she was with him at the time of the crime. Bol's case becomes a lightning rod as protesters on all sides converge on Nashville and tensions threaten to explode.

Meanwhile, Bol's alibi has her own secrets — and is terrified of someone working behind the scenes to get what he wants — even if it means murder.

Will Dennehy be able to piece things together before everything he believes about the law, and about justice, is torn apart?

Vivid with the emotional complexity that has become the hallmark of Reed Arvin's work, Blood of Angels is filled with nonstop action, impeccable detail, and unforgettable characters, making this a novel that is impossible to resist.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Law Journal
“A suspenseful story line that takes hold of the reader from the very beginning to the book’s close.”
New Orleans Times-Picayune
“Arvin piles on the action in this nail-biting Tennessee tale of misplaced revenge.”
Providence Journal
“Tense, evocative prose...fiendishly clever and eloquently penned.
Wichita Eagle
“Arvin weaves his plot and his chacters together with remarkable empathy...A legal thriller with soul.”
Entertainment Weekly
“Intriguing...clever. A-”
Pittsburgh Tribune
“Arvin weaves together disparate elements into a coherent and often thought-provoking tale.”
Boston Globe
“The pace is fast and...Arvin saves a satisfying surprise for the finale.”
Chicago Tribune Books
“An old-fashioned thriller with modern-technology smarts.”
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel
“Briskly-paced...a fresh approach to the thriller.”
Denver Post
“Fast-paced action, unexpected twists…keeps the pages turning until the end.”
Calgary Sun
“Arvin keeps the action swift and the tension high.”
Booklist (starred review)
“This nail-biter is Arvin’s third thriller...and each has been better than the last.”
"This nail-biter is Arvin’s third thriller...and each has been better than the last."
The Record (Bergen County
“Absorbing...briskly paced (with) realistic characters whose fervent beliefs shape their actions.”
The Record (Bergen County))
"Absorbing...briskly paced (with) realistic characters whose fervent beliefs shape their actions."
The Record (Bergen County)
"Absorbing...briskly paced (with) realistic characters whose fervent beliefs shape their actions."
Publishers Weekly
Thomas Dennehy, assistant DA of Davidson County, Tenn., is about to become famous. Unless he can figure a way out of it, he'll be certified as the first lawyer in the country to have sent the wrong man to the death chamber. As if that isn't enough, he must also prosecute a charismatic member of the local Sudanese community, Moses Bol, accused of killing a prostitute, in a trial that threatens to engulf Nashville in a full-scale race riot. Dennehy is tough, in court and out, and has plenty of interesting personal problems-primarily an ex-wife for whom he has conflicting feelings and an 11-year-old daughter he adores. He's a highly sympathetic figure, as are Arvin's other characters-except the bad guy who's harboring a deadly grudge and a diabolical plan that confounds both Dennehy and the police. While trying to sort through his problems, Dennehy falls for an unlikely lady, Fiona Towns, a local minister and Moses Bol's alibi. Perhaps this material isn't quite as original as Arvin's debut, The Last Goodbye, but the author is among the top handful of legal thriller writers working today, and this is another winner that thriller, mystery and general fiction readers alike will relish. Agent, Jane Dystel. (July) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A murder case that's just been closed by lethal injection threatens a Nashville prosecutor's handling of a wide-open case in the present. Thomas Dennehy is the only lawyer in Tennessee who's convicted two men, acting independently, of the same wrongful death: Wilson Owens, the hardened 18-year-old who shot grocer Steven Davidson and customer Lucinda Williams during a robbery and has just been executed for their murders; and Charles Bridges, the meth-stoked EMT who sealed the dying customer's fate when he stuck an air tube down her esophagus and did time for negligent homicide. Now a third man has come forward to claim responsibility: hard con Kwame Jamal Hale, who offers to take the authorities to the never-recovered murder weapon if they don't believe him. His confession is a supersized roadblock in Dennehy's quest for the death penalty against Moses Bol, the Sudanese immigrant who allegedly raped and murdered Tamra Hartlett and left her apartment awash in his DNA. As TV commentators debate the morality of the death penalty and the city's black community butts heads with xenophobic Nationites from Hartlett's neighborhood, maverick Presbyterian pastor Fiona Towns threatens to torpedo Dennehy's case by insisting that Bol was with her on the night in question. Given the clouds of uncertainty gathering around his earlier conviction of Owens, Dennehy wonders whether a single juror in Davidson County will ever again vote the needle for the most hardened defendant. But public relations turn out to be the least of his problems when a cunning, murderous enemy takes his activities personally and goes after his cat, his truck and everything else he holds dear. The setup is familiar, but Arvin (TheLast Goodbye, 2004, etc.) calculates everything-the mystery, the office politics, the anti-death-penalty demonstrations, the race riots, the fiendishly escalating threats-so neatly that the whole package is an offer you can't refuse: the first summer-movie blockbuster of the year. Author tour

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.00(d)

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Blood of Angels

A Novel
By Reed Arvin

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2005 Reed Arvin
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060596341

Chapter One

I am the assistant district attorney of Davidson County, Tennessee, and on May 18, 2004, I killed Wilson Owens. He was determined, and I was willing. We were like lovers, in that way. Wilson pursued me with a string of petty thefts and miscellaneous criminal acts -- working his way through his lesser loves -- until he could wait for our union no longer. On that day -- three years, two months, and eleven days before his own death -- Owens killed Steven Davidson, the manager of the Sunshine Grocery Store in east Nashville. The moment Wilson's bullet entered Davidson's chest, the dance between us began.

I mention these names because it's important in my line of work that they are remembered. Both are dead, and both are lamented by their families. Ironically, both have gravestones in the same cemetery, Roselawn Memorial Gardens, in east Nashville; Wilson is buried underneath a flat, nondescript stone inscribed only with his name and the duration of his life. A hundred and fifty yards away, Davidson lies beneath an ornate, marble monument paid for by his numerous friends, fellow churchgoers, and family.

Wilson was what society calls a bad man. The truth, as usual, is more complex. What is certain is that his life went off the rails as a teenager, when his father -- a man to whom the notion of family responsibility was as alien as a day without alcohol -- took a final uppercut at his mother and walked out the door. From those sullen seeds Wilson grew, nurtured in the subculture of the Nashville projects, until he emerged, at eighteen years old, already twice a father, already once a felon. His destiny was sealed, as was mine.

I was born to kill Wilson Owens as surely as he was born to be my victim. This is clear only in retrospect, of course. When I was growing up in Wichita, Kansas, the son of a civilian airplane mechanic who worked at McConnell Air Force Base, the idea that I would one day kill a man was as distant from my mind as India. My father's world was full of wrenches, grease, and secondhand tales of pilot braggadocio. I loved that world nearly as much I loved my father. In those days of blissfully low security, I would ride my bike from home to the base, wave at the bored guards, and screech to a halt outside the hanger 3, where my father worked. I would watch him clamber inside one of the huge General Electric engines hanging under the wing of a tanker, or, perched on his shoulders, I would peer inside the still-warm tailpipe of an F-15 fighter. He and the other workers wore flattop haircuts, black shoes, and the gray coveralls of Faris Aircraft, the company that subcontracted the overflow aircraft maintenance work at the base. I wore my hair the same way, even though in the early eighties this had all the cachet of a funeral director. It didn't matter. To identify with my father and the easygoing men of his world was all that mattered.

My mother lived in an entirely different world, one which I generally viewed with suspicion. A legal secretary, she worked in the grandly named but decrepit Century Plaza Building, an aging structure with noisy plumbing and elevators with doors that had to be manually pulled shut. The few times I went there -- no more than five or six in my entire childhood -- confirmed to me that the world of suits, ties, and paper-pushing was greatly inferior to the vibrant, masculine world of my father. My father's coworkers were muscular, told dirty jokes, and had eyes that sparkled when they roughhoused. The men of my mother's world all seemed slick, dark-haired, and smiling with secret agendas. That my mother seemed so completely at home in this world haunted me then, and now that I occupy the same world myself, haunts me still. To my surprise, I am more my mother's son than my father's, although physically I am his younger picture. I have his photograph before me now, as I sit at my desk at the DA's office on a gray, August afternoon. He is bare-chested, his wide-open smile pointed at the camera, a cigarette in his left hand, ready to fix any airplane that happens to roll by. Looking at his smile, I can almost believe he could fix the world.

On the day he died -- having fallen thirty-eight feet from the wing of an AC-130 Hercules onto the griddle-hot asphalt beneath the plane, breaking his neck as cleanly as a chicken's wishbone -- the world as I had known it ceased to exist. I spent the next year or so trying to bring him back, which my current profession has long since taught me is impossible. But at eighteen, the answer to my problems seemed to involve smoking a good deal of dope, drinking beer, and arguing with my mother over the direction of my life. Predictably, I wanted to join the military. She wanted me to go to college and become a lawyer. The compromise was inevitable: I agreed to go to college if I could be in ROTC, which paid my tuition in exchange for two years of active service. Since my father left us little, my mother could hardly refuse. I enrolled at Wichita State, and somewhere between marching for ROTC and an English class I found the part of my mother inside myself that I had denied. I was a hell of a student and a hell of a recruit. I put the two together, traded two more years of active duty with the Judge Advocate General's Corps for law school, and in 1992 walked out of Vanderbilt Law a second lieutenant ready to fulfill my commitment to the army.


Excerpted from Blood of Angels by Reed Arvin Copyright © 2005 by Reed Arvin. Excerpted by permission.
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.

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