Angel City by Jon Steele

June 15, 2013

Angel City is a direct sequel to The Watchers. As a result of this it seems highly likely to me that there will be some spoilers in this review (I’ll be honest there are definitely spoilers, I was trying to be subtle). If you’ve not read the 1st book proceed at your own peril.

Jay Harper, one of the last ‘angels’ on Planet Earth, is hunting down the half-breeds and goons who infected Paradise with evil. Intercepting a plot to turn half of Paris into a dead zone, Harper ends up on the wrong side of the law and finds himself a wanted man. That doesn’t stop his commander, Inspector Gobet of the Swiss Police, from sending him back to Paris on a recon mission… a mission that uncovers a truth buried in the Book of Enoch.

Katherine Taylor and her two year old son Max are living in a small town in the American Northwest. It’s a quiet life. She runs a candle shop and spends her afternoons drinking herbal teas, imagining a crooked little man in the belfry of Lausanne Cathedral, a man who believed Lausanne was a hideout for lost angels. And there was someone else, someone she can’t quite remember…as if he was there, and not there at the same time.

A man with a disfigured face emerges from the shadows. His name is Astruc, he’s obsessed with the immortal souls of men. Like a voice crying in the wilderness, he warns the time of The Prophecy is at hand…a prophecy that calls for the sacrifice of the child born of light…

I read The Watchers, Jon Steele’s debut novel back in June 2011 and thoroughly enjoyed it. Two years later and the sequel is upon us. My only uncertainty going in, was how much I would enjoy it knowing that one of my favourite characters from book one was gone?

Jay Harper has adjusted to the revelations he uncovered about origins. Working for the celestial authorities is never boring, and within a few pages he’s already involved in breakneck chase to save Paris. Just a typical day on the job really. On top of that however, Harper appears to be developing a bit of a problem. It turns out that his current body’s previous occupant, Captain Jay Michael Harper (deceased), is still hanging around, sort of. I love Harper’s roguish charm, it continues to delight. He is the earthiest of angels. He drinks, he smokes and his quick mouth ends up getting him into trouble more often than not.

Meanwhile on the side of the Atlantic, in the town of Grover’s Mill, Katherine Taylor starts to slowly rebuild her life. Two years after the traumatic events she experienced in Lausane, she is living in protective custody, a detachment of the Swiss Guard watching her round the clock. Katherine still has huge gaps in her memory, but each passing day brings new discoveries about the horror she experienced and the situation she now finds herself in. Slowly she comes to realise that there are forces, both good and bad, who are very interested in her and her child.

I do still miss Marc Rochat, but I’m glad that his presence continues to be felt strongly throughout the pages of this sequel. Even though he’s gone, his legacy plays an important part in Katherine’s journey. It’s a testament to the strength of Steele’s writing that this character has left such a lasting impression.

Much like its predecessor, it’s the characterisation that makes this such an enjoyable read. Harper continues to be one of the bolshiest angels I’ve ever come across, his back chat and one-liners always raise a smile. I love the back and forth between him and his boss, the man in the cashmere coat, Inspector Gobet. The relationship between Katherine and the lead officer of her protective detail is also handled very well. Even the interactions between Astruc and his assistant, Goose, are great. Thinking about it now this hardly seems a surprise, the author has a real knack for dialogue and it shows.

A word of warning. In this case, I think it would be advisable to ensure you’ve read the first book in this series before attempting the second. This is very much the middle part of a much larger work and you’ll be missing out on so much if you don’t.

Steele has created another wonderful story in Angel City. He has successfully expanded on the promise of The Watchers, and in this novel, he’s created two equally compelling narrative strands. I’d be hard pushed to confirm which one I enjoyed the most, each are so engrossing. Harper and Katherine’s stories both end on a suitably cliff-hangery note, and I found myself cheering and cursing the author in equal measure. I loved the story but I need to know what happens next! Hopefully I should be able to just about hold out until the final book in the trilogy is released.

Angel City is published by Blue Rider Press and is available now. I’m looking finding out how this story comes to a conclusion in book three, The Way of Sorrows, already.

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