2009: #110 – A Quiet Belief in Angels (R.J. Ellory)

quietangels Book #110 was A Quiet Belief in Angels by R.J. Ellory.  The back of the book reads:

Growing up in rural Georgia during the 1940s, Joseph Vaughan finds himself at the center of a series of mutilations and killings of young girls. Just a teenager, Joseph becomes determined to protect his community from the killer, but he is powerless in preventing more murders—and no one is ever caught. Ten years later one of his neighbors is found hanging from a rope, surrounded by belongings of the dead girls; the killings cease, and the nightmare appears to be over. Desperate and plagued by everything he has witnessed, Joseph sets out to forge a new life in New York. But even there the past won’t leave him alone—for it seems that the murderer still lives and is killing again, and that the secret to his identity lies in Joseph’s own history.

This book was a wonderful surprise.  It had me from the open:

Rumor, hearsay, folklore.  Whichever way it laid down to rest or came up for air, rumor had it that a white feather indicated the visitation of an angel.

On the morning of Wednesday, July twelfth, 1939, I saw one, long and slender and unlike any kind of feather I’d seen before.  It skirted the edge of the door as I opened it, almost as if it had waited patiently to enter, and the draft from the hallway carried it into my room.

And kept me reading with beautiful passages like this:

Love, I would later conclude, was all things to all people.  Love was the breaking and healing of hearts.  Love was misunderstood, love was faith, love was the promise of now that became hope for the future.  Love was a rhythm, a resonance, a reverberation.  Love was awkward and foolish, it was aggressive and simple and possessed of so many indefinable qualities that it could never be conveyed in language.  Love was being.

Joseph Vaughn’s childhood is marred by murder of several local girls, all presumably at the hands of a single serial killer. These events color not only his childhood, but his entire life as he becomes obsessed with the crimes. He can’t seem to catch a break, his life rocked time after time by tragedy.  A gifted writer, Joseph eventually moves to New York City in an attempt to leave it all behind, but it’s not that easy. 

This was a really sneaky mystery.  Ellory drops little breadcrumbs every so often, and just when you think you know what’s going on, things take a turn. I was wrong about who the killer was, yet it all made sense in the end.  The setting is also worked into the story very well… the attitudes of people due to World War II play a significant part, as well as the small town southern setting. This is Ellory’s fifth book, and I can’t wait to track down the others.  I am a new fan.

This book was a review copy.

Other reviews:
Bites: A Quiet Belief in Angels by RJ Ellory + Contest!
Kittling: Books: A Quiet Belief in Angels by R.J. Ellory

Page count: 396 | Approximate word count: 118,800

2007: Dearly Devoted Dexter (Jeff Lindsay)
2006: A Woman Without Lies (Elizabeth Lowell)

Used in these Challenges: A-Z 2009 Challenge; Countdown Challenge 2010;

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