So what’s the set-up?
Broken Angels is the third in the Byrne & Balzano Philadelphia series of crime novels, taking place some time after the events of The Skin Gods and I won’t say more than that. The structure is the same as before, alternating narratives from the perspectives of the two detectives and the unidentified murderer(s). There may be a pattern here :-)
What’s the killer’s thing?
Murder and mutilation of mostly (but not entirely) young women in the manner of classic fairy tales. But, to complicate matters, there seems to be another set of killings taking place. Of course they’re connected, but the question is exactly how.
What’s the situation with Byrne?
Right at the very beginning of the book Byrne is involved in an incident at a local coffee shop which, to say the least, does not go well, and he has to cope with the fall-out from that throughout the novel.
What’s the situation with Balzano?
Things are settling down in her personal life but she is getting broody, and is worried about her partner. She is still good at hitting things.
Is there anything new here?
Well, there is the introduction of a new detective to the team, Josh Bontrager, who looks like he might become a major fixture and has an interesting back-story, having been brought up in the Amish community. Cue lots of jokes.
What did I think of it?
Once again I enjoyed this novel but I think the formula is beginning to stretch a little bit, which is why I was glad that in some ways I didn’t have to work out who the murderer was (we know quite early on about one of the killers, and the other is identified to us through an alter ego). There is an interesting sub-plot about a retired detective and the case that continues to trouble him, and of course it’s all connected and of course they finally get to the bottom of it, but a lot of damage is done to everyone concerned. There is a fabulous set-piece near the end in the snowy countryside, and for that reason I thought this was probably the most cinematic of the books so far. The end of the novel seems to be setting up some potentially major changes for our heroes, and it felt a little bit like the conclusion of a trilogy and could have stopped there quite happily, but as we know there are another five in the series (so far).