The Fifth Angelby Tim Green
From all appearances, Jack Ruskin is a mild-mannered and well-respected lawyer practicing in New York. But he is also living every parent's nightmare: His teenage daughter has recently been the victim of a brutal and horrific attack by a sexual predator. As Jack tends to her, his constant sorrow and pain gradually grows into hot-blooded rage. It turns out that her attacker has a long history of sexual crimes and as is the case with many repeat sex offenders was allowed back on the streets to wreak more harm once he did his time in jail. As Ruskin's rage builds, he is convinced that it is finally time to take matters into his own angry hands but how far will he go to make certain that justice is done?
Author Biography: Tim Green is a featured commentator on NPR and Fox Sports and a regular contributor to Salon and USA Today. He majored in English at Syracuse University and completed his law degree there while playing professional football for the NFL. He lives in upstate New York with his family.
- Grand Central Publishing
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Read an Excerpt
The Fifth Angel
By Tim Green
Copyright © 2003
All right reserved.
Despite the horror of his crime, there was a chance that Eugene Tupp
might go free. The legal system was a board game. Right didn't
always prevail. Chance could supersede justice. That's what Jack
Ruskin was afraid of.
A mist hung in the night air, muting the light. Fluorescent street
lamps glowed pale blue. The scent of damp concrete and pavement
floated up, mixing with the smell of cooked onions blown outside by
an unseen kitchen fan somewhere down the side alley. Jack Ruskin
lifted a ream of paper from the passenger seat of his Saab
convertible. He tucked the bulky package beneath his long raincoat
and, with his briefcase in the other hand, stumbled into the Brick
He stepped up onto the dining room floor and surveyed the tables,
looking past the inquisitive hostess. Gavin Donohue was in the back,
beyond the old wood bar and its high leather chairs, back near the
emergency exit. Gavin sat upright beneath a copied Monet. He faced
the quiet crowd, a big dark Irishman with the stoic expression of an
elected official. He was the D.A. of Nassau County. When he reached
for his wineglass, a silver Rolex Submariner flashed on his wrist.
Jack made his way through the mill of waiters andwaitresses. They
were dressed in white shirts and black bow ties and moved with
expedient politeness. When Jack bumped one he turned to excuse
himself, jostling a second, tangling his legs, and losing his
balance. His papers spilled in a gusher on the hardwood floor. Jack
cursed quietly and knelt down. He thanked the staff and even the
other diners who bent down to help him collect his things. Gavin got
up and came halfway across the room to help. "Not the best place for
this," Jack said, rising, his face feeling warm. He adjusted his
glasses, looking through the steam and up into Gavin's face.
"I thought you'd like some dinner," Gavin said, handing him a
transcript sheet from the floor. "Come on, let's sit down." Gavin
tucked himself back in the corner, still upright. He was tall and
thick, and his thinning dark hair matched his eyes. His cherry face
was made serious by a concrete smile. Even years ago, when they'd
been young assistants together in the D.A.'s office in Brooklyn,
people had been afraid of Gavin.
Jack set his briefcase on the floor beside his chair, then thumped
his stack of papers down on the linen tablecloth. He took off his
coat, tossed it over the back of his chair, and sat down, loosening
Jack knew Gavin had something to say to him and he didn't like the
precipitous angle of his old friend's eyebrows. He felt short of
breath. His heart pumped faster. He moved the brass lamp on the
table and the flowers to one side. Yellow stick'um flags sprouted
from the ream. Jack reached for the one closest to the top, pulling
out the page. He wanted to talk, to keep Gavin from talking.
"I'm not telling you what to do," he said, "but I just don't think
this Unger woman is the right one to be doing the cross on a
witness, any witness. Listen to this: 'Mr. Billings, do you-'"
"Jack." "-'do you think that you might have been mistaken wh-' "
"Jack." "You don't ask someone if they 'might' be mistaken on a
cross, Gavin," Jack said. "I don't want to sound peevish, but
goddamn." "Jack, stop." "What?" "Just stop." Gavin's face turned to
stone. He said flatly, "The judge ruled to exclude the van."
The quiet din of the busy restaurant suddenly sounded to Jack as if
it came through a long tube. He saw the rest of the evidence falling
like dominoes. The van. The blood. The chloroform. The duct tape.
Without them, they couldn't hope to prove that Eugene Tupp was the
monster who had abducted his daughter. It was the kidnapping charge
that would put that piece of human scum away until he was either
harmless or dead. His stomach gave a violent heave.
"I'm sorry," Gavin was saying. "I wanted to tell you in person."
"You're serious," Jack heard himself say. "Jack, you of all people
knew this was a problem from the start. The cop busted into his
garage with a crowbar, for God's sake," Gavin said. "The garage was
attached to the house," Jack said, accenting the point of law. The
search warrant was for Eugene Tupp's house. In New York State that
meant just the house. If the garage was separate, then anything
found inside couldn't be used as evidence. The police should have
gone back and gotten another warrant for the garage. They were too
"Not in the traditional sense maybe," Jack said, "but the covered
walkway, that could be construed-"
"Jack," Gavin said. "He ruled the van inadmissible. He's not going
to change. You know that." Jack stood. He looked around for
something. Then he lifted the massive transcript off the table and
slammed it down to the floor, where it burst into a flurry of paper.
The restaurant went quiet. Heads turned. Gavin backed them all down
with his darkest scowl.
"Please," he said to Jack. "Sit down." Jack dug into his pocket and
took out a wallet-sized photo of his little girl: Janet. She stared
back at him with his own glass blue eyes, her long radiant blond
hair-also his-tucked back behind her ears, a small smile on her
pretty face. She was only fifteen when it was taken. Only fifteen
when Tupp snatched her, and left her with a shattered mind.
"This is my little girl," Jack said in a husky voice. He slapped the
picture down on the table in front of his old friend, rattling the
silverware and the ice in the water glasses. A messy purple stain
began to spread from the base of Gavin's wineglass. Gavin didn't
look. "I'm going to get the max on the rape charge," he said. "He'll
"Time? How much?" Jack said, his voice rising. Heads began to turn
again. "Four years? Five? Six? He did time before. Do you know what
he did to her? He shouldn't do time. He should be strapped to the
Gavin removed one hand from the edge of the table and grasped the
knot of his tie, shaking it loose like a dog tugging on a sock. His
face was scarlet now. Beads of sweat broke out on his forehead.
"It's not a perfect system, Jack." He looked around and lowered his
voice into a raspy plea. "This is not my fault." Jack felt his anger
and disgust peak and then begin to wane.
His face drooped. His shoulders sagged. He felt weary, but not weary
from being run too hard. He felt instead like a man who had been
tied up and beaten with a pipe. He took a deep tired breath and
exhaled his words. They sounded hollow, empty. "I know that, Gavin,"
he said, pocketing the photo. "Did I ever tell you why Angela left?"
Gavin cleared his throat and shook his head no. "She found this rich
fat bastard from the club, but that wasn't really it," Jack said. "I
was supposed to pick Janet up the day he got her.
"This whole thing ..." Jack said. "It's not your fault. It's my
Jack turned and stumbled back through the crowded tables like a bum.
Instead of going straight for the entrance, he turned and banged his
way outside through the emergency exit door and into a
garbage-strewn alley. An alarm howled after him. Jack didn't care.
He felt Gavin's hand on his shoulder.
"I'll get him, Jack," Gavin said. He handed Jack his briefcase.
"I'll get him for everything I can ... I wish it were more. I do."
Jack said nothing. They reached the end of the alley. Gavin stopped.
Jack kept going, plodding slowly up the sidewalk through the mist
and to his car. The melancholy glow of the streetlight illuminated a
parking ticket on his windshield. Jack didn't bother with it. He
drove home with it flapping in protest. It stopped when he reached
the assembly of barren trees that lined his cobblestone driveway.
His vast home was illuminated in a haphazard, uneven manner. More
than half the exterior lights buried in the yard had burned out
months ago. Still, there were enough random beams of light to make
out the rich orange brick and the tangled gray tendrils of dormant
ivy as they snaked their way delicately across the intricate white
trim. The tall mullioned windows were dark and empty. Many of them
hid behind ornate wrought-iron balconies. After Jack turned off the
car, he sat for a moment in the garage listening to the tick of the
engine as it cooled. Inside the house he found the big handgun he
had recently purchased. It lay at the bottom of his underwear drawer
under a mess of unfolded clothes. Behind the purchase of the gun was
a wild scheme that hadn't fully taken hold, a rage building up
inside him that needed a vent, but now it seemed to him that the
gun's true purpose was more horrible than what he had originally
imagined. Or had he known all along in the back of his mind that
this was the fate that awaited him?
He descended the long curving staircase with the cool black Glock
9mm in his hand. He found a bottle of Chivas Regal in the kitchen. A
pizza box lay open on the table, exposing greasy stains, crumbs, and
three chewed-over crusts. In the corner of the sticky floor was a
haphazard stack of newspapers. Without thinking Jack filled a tall
glass with ice from the machine and then poured in the Scotch until
it nearly overflowed. He sat at the kitchen table and began to sip.
The ice jiggled noisily in its bath of liquor. Jack's hands were
He thought again of Eugene Tupp and what he had done. Without the
van and the evidence inside it, the man would spend no more than six
years in jail, and given the crowding of New York's penal system, he
was likely to be free in much less. It was so wrong. Tupp would be
out and free to attack someone else's little girl and that ate away
at Jack's insides. He had taken to drinking Maalox to get him
through the day. But Jack believed that he deserved to suffer. After
all, this was his fault. Like his wife-his ex-wife-everyone else
seemed to know that, too.
The Scotch was nearly gone when he lifted the gun from the tabletop.
He brought the barrel to his lips. Tears spilled down Jack's cheeks.
The gun barrel slipped effortlessly into his mouth. He wasn't
bothered by the tangy taste of metal against his tongue. But when
the end of the barrel tickled the back of his throat, he had to
fight the urge to gag.
Jack felt himself unravel like an industrial spring. His tears were
now accompanied by heaving sobs that grew in strength, sobs for
Janet, sobs for himself, sobs for the injustice and the futility of
life. He squeezed his eyes shut tight, wondering what it would feel
like to die.
Then he pulled the gun from his mouth and slammed it down on the
table. If he was mad enough to kill himself, then fine. He could
always do that. But he would be damned if he weren't going to kill
someone else first.
Excerpted from The Fifth Angel
by Tim Green
Copyright © 2003 by Tim Green .
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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I have read four of Tim Green's books and loved them all. Each very different and heart pounding endings!
You like one of his books, you'll like them all.
I came away feeling like I'd just listened to a book written by a right-wing, extremist vigilante with an overly inflated sense of the infallability of his own opinions. The 'what happened to my daughter is all my fault' angst did nothing but make the protagonist look like a self-serving, it's-all-about-me whiner. The look-the-other-way responses attributed to the law enforcement types were just too damned convenient to the plot. In fact, Mr. Green painted as a total buffoon the the only detective truly trying to find out what was going on. The unbridled success of the main character's forays into vigilantism was simplistic at best, and probably better described as absurd. Apparently everyone in his vicinity at the time of his crimes was deaf, dumb and blind. I know this is fiction, but the whole thing was just too contrived, too pat. It's almost as if Mr. Green wrote an outline for the book, filled it in a little, then dropped it in the mailbox to meet a deadline. The only reason I finished it was that I was on a road trip and it was the last one I had in the car for listening. I don't think I'll bother to try any more of Mr. Green's work.
I read this book about 4 years ago. I am not much of a reader but after reading this book, I now read at least a book a month. The Fifth Angel is by far my favorite book. Tim Green has quite a few tricks up his sleeve even for a retired NFL star. When you get the chance, buy this book.
Jack Ruskin's daughter, Janet, has been abducted and he doesn't know if she will ever get better after the traumatic experience. Of course Jack blames himself and so does his now ex-wife. To try and rid himself of some guilt, Jack decides it is his duty to rid the world of some of these monsters. But when he strikes in an area where McGrew is working, he has made a mistake. McGrew, a small-town cop, together with Amanda, a big-time FBI agent, make it their mission to stop this killer. This novel is exciting and really makes you think. The people that could have identified Jack, didn't. These people knew he was in the right, even though he was committing murder. I would recommend this book to high school readers and above or anyone interested in the law.
WARNING: Only start this book if you have nothing else to do because you won't be able to put it down. This was a great book that kept me reading well into the night!
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. I picked it up thinking it was going to be another trite serial killer novel but I was pleasantly surprised. I was highly entertained and I must admit, the book did really scare me! Don't read this one at night!
I couldn't put this book down. It definitely made you question what is appropriate given the intense emotional situations the characters are in. Loved it.
When Jack Ruskin's Daughter, Janet, is kidnaped, tortured, and raped, Jack feels he is to blame. So, in a quest for 'redemption', he goes on a vigilante killing spree (Calling himself The Fifth Angel) that keeps escalating. Although your sense of justice is satisfied by these killings, it is also outraged by them. A morally questionable and yet strangely fulfilling tale of intrigue, murder, sexual perversion, and justice.
I'll agree with the previous reviewer that the plot of this book was often very convenient. I don't think you would find anything similar to this in the real world. And unlike the previous review, I don't see any right wing stances being made by the author or really any stances at all. With that said, however, I really enjoyed this book. This was the first book I have read by Green and I was just expecting an average read to pass some time. I figured I could guess about anything that was going to happen, but if it got my heart rate up a few times, it would be worth it. Then, so many unexpected events and twists starting occuring I was constantly asking 'what is he going to do?'. You are constantly wondering how he is going to get through this, but also when the shoe is going to fall. This is not the most incredible fiction ever written, but if you want a quick, entertaining read that can get your heart pumping, I definately recommend this book for you.
Though the proof is overwhelming that repeat sex offender Eugene Tupp raped the fifteen year old teen, the New York Judge rules key evidence was illegally obtained by the police and not admissible. Apparently, the search warrant was for Tupp¿s house and not his garage. Former prosecutor and highly regarded attorney Jack Ruskin is irate that while his daughter lies semi-comatose this animal will receive a slight slap of the wrist instead of locking him away forever. Jack needs vengeance and he finds it by killing an Upstate sex offender. Tasting blood and not feeling fully satiated, Jack is obsessed with wanting to exterminate sex offenders. He uses the net to find his prey, but soon the FBI realizes that a serial killer is murdering sex offenders. Special Agent Amanda Lee begins searching for a culprit, who she sympathizes with as she has a child and her partner was recently killed by a child abuser. Though the premise has been used before (Bronson), THE FIFTH ANGEL starts off as if the reader will receive an action packed yet philosophical look at defining justice. However, once Jack turns into a typical serial killer, the story line intensifies the action at the expense of moving the audience into the gray definitions of justice. Tim Green provides a strong thriller that many fans will say could have been brilliant. Harriet Klausner