Friday, May 31, 2013

Book Review: "Angel Baby" by Richard Lange

Luz has been under the thumb of her husband, Rolando, a drug and crime lord in Tijuana known as "El Principe," or "The Prince." The only thought that gets her through her every move being watched by Rolando and his henchmen, the rapes and the beatings, is her four-year-old daughter, Isabel, who Luz left with an aunt in California before escaping to Mexico a few years earlier.

One day, Luz decides she has had enough. She takes some cash out of her husband's safe, his Colt .45, and the clothes on her back, and prepares to escape. It's not her fault that people wound up dead as she tried to leave. And although she's on the run, determined to retrieve her daughter and start a new life, she knows it's only a matter of time before Rolando tries to find her.

Kevin Malone is an aging surfer who moved to Tijuana as things in his life went from bad to worse. Haunted by tragedy, he spends his time between drinking binges running Mexican immigrants across the border. When he is asked to help Luz, it shakes him out of his doldrums at the same time as it makes his memories worse, and he has no idea just how much danger he might face.

Jeronimo is a convict whose time in a Mexican prison is made more palatable thanks to the support he gets from Rolando as one of his employees. He is determined once he leaves prison to set his life straight and treat his wife and two young children to better things, but that's easier said than done. And when Rolando demands a favor from Jeronimo he cannot refuse, it sends him on a collision path with Luz and Malone—and another person determined to cash in on the situation.

Richard Lange's Angel Baby is a fun, action-packed book that transcends typical crime novels because of the complexity of the characters Lange has created. This is a novel where you want to root for almost everyone, even though you realize what that might mean. It's hopeful and bleak at times, and while you may figure out how the story will unfold, it doesn't matter, because the way Lange gets there is worth your time.

This is a book that reads a bit like a movie, and I don't mean that derogatorily. Enjoyable, well-written, and tremendously compelling. You'll want to savor the story and devour it.

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