Kevin, the Fallen Angel, 2017

Heaven, Saturday morning 

Angel number 4501 is summoned to His Presence, or HP, as he likes to be called.
“I have an important job for you, 4501. There’s a music festival tomorrow in Everyman’s Park.”
HP’s magnificent voice rolls out, setting clouds, cherubim and seraphim a-tremble. A few feathers shiver and fall off 4501’s wings.
“I was very upset at the amount of sin that went on at the last one – drugs, blasphemy and …” HP lowers his voice and the Heavens still. “… you know, s-e-x that went on.”
4501’s heart leapt in anticipation.
The celestial voice rumbles on. “It will be your mission to point out the error of their ways to these young people, put their feet on a new and better path.”
OK. So it’s Mission Impossible, but I’m going to a music festival.
“Of course, HP. An honour to be chosen. In what guise shall I descend?”
A rock star? A Hell’s Angel? Oh please, not a groupie.
“You will temporarily take over the body of an ice cream salesman called Kevin.”
HP taps his foot and watches as 4501 plummets to earth, his heavenly raiment already changing to jeans and a Nirvana tee-shirt.

Hell, Saturday morning

His Satanic Highness kneels on the backs of two recently arrived politicians, his backside bare and pulsating with inner evil. A ring of hellfire encircles them, holding back a legion of imps and fiends with singed hair and blistered skin.
“Kiss my arse!” roars HSH. “A day back on earth for whoever braves the flames and kisses my royal arse.”
None are brave enough to risk self imolation until Black Bart steps forward. Seven feet tall, once a grave robber and now an upper level demon, he’s been a thorn in HSH’s side ever since he fell into an open grave and drowned in the seepage.
One almighty leap and he’s through the hellfire, skin smouldering and bubbling, smoke seeping from all his orifices.
Bending at the knee, he kisses the putrefying buttocks before him. 
Beelzebub, as he likes to be called when dealing with the Damned, rears up and points upwards, searing a hole through the charcoal-blackened vaults. 
“Go, Lulu, enjoy your day.”
Black Bart only has time to say, “Lulu? What the f–” before he vanishes in a swirl of silk and Chanel No 5.

Saturday afternoon

His Presence watches the materialisation of the ravishing young woman, her modesty barely covered in wisps of green silk.
“You’ve outdone yourself this week, Lucifer.” He prefers the old names to all this high-falutin’ Royal Highness stuff.
The Devil laughs. “Kevin the ice cream seller won’t stand a chance. Shall I make the first move?”
The two deities settle down to their weekly game of Celestial Chess. 
Lulu basks under the hot sun and a thought pops into her mind.
I’d kill for an ice cream.





Heaven, My Home
Attica Locke
Serpent’s Tail

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I approached this book with enthusiasm, having read and enjoyed Black Water Rising and Bluebird, Bluebird. I didn’t get off to a very good start as there were constant references to Bluebird, Bluebird which I just couldn’t remember. When one reads upwards of 100 books a year, it’s hard to recollect the finer details of one from two years ago. However, I soldiered on, taking the events at face value, hoping everything would become clearer.
Darren Matthews is sent to Jefferson on a mission I never fully bought into. The son of a member of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas is missing and his job is not to investigate the the disappearance but to glean any information he can about the Brotherhood. The main thread of this is to visit the boy’s father in jail. I got a bit uneasy at this point because it was a very obvious bit of plotting to get Matthews into Jefferson. He could just have gone directly to the jail. I also questioned why a black Texas ranger would be sent into a hotbed of white supremacists.

Matthews proceeded to wander through the rest of the book being told he wasn’t welcome, that the investigation was nothing to do with him (true) and being regularly insulted in the coarsest of terms. This didn’t stop him from solving the mystery when no one else could.
Locke’s descriptive writing reminds me very much of James Lee Burke (that’s an enormous compliment) and she has obviously done massive research for this book. I got the feeling she was writing something with the breadth of Gone With the Wind but was obliged to shoehorn it into a much shorter book. The results was pages and pages of historical fact, some of which was relevant to the story, some wasn’t. It was just too much information for me to take in and hold in my head, so I skipped them in the end and sought out the bits that dealt with the ongoing plot.
There were quite a few floating strands at the end of the book, but I won’t be buying the next one. I don’t like giving up on a character, but I knew no more about Darren Matthews at the end than I did at the beginning.

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