2016 Book 11: ANGELS BURNING by Tawni O’Dell

Angels Burning by Tawni O’Dell 
ISBN: 9781476755953 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781501132544 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781476755977 (ebook)
ASIN: B00UDCNJLC (Kindle version)
Publication Date: January 5, 2015
Publisher: Gallery Books

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Oprah Book Club pick Back Roads comes this fast-paced literary thriller about a small town police chief who’s forced to dig into her own shadowy past as she investigates the murder of a teenage girl.

On the surface, Chief Dove Carnahan is a true trailblazer who would do anything to protect the rural Pennsylvanian countryside where she has lived all fifty of her years. Traditional and proud of her blue-collar sensibilities, Dove is loved by her community. But beneath her badge lies a dark and self-destructive streak, fed by a secret she has kept since she was sixteen.

When a girl is beaten to death, her body tossed down a fiery sinkhole in an abandoned coal town, Dove is faced with solving the worst crime of her law enforcement career. She identifies the girl as a daughter of the Truly family, a notoriously irascible dynasty of rednecks and petty criminals.

During her investigation, the man convicted of killing Dove’s mother years earlier is released from prison. Still proclaiming his innocence, he approaches Dove with a startling accusation and a chilling threat that forces her to face the parallels between her own family’s trauma and that of the Trulys.

With countless accolades to her credit, author Tawni O’Dell writes with the “fearless insights” (The New York Times Book Review) she brought to the page in Back Roads and One of Us. In this new, masterfully told psychological thriller, the past and present collide to reveal the extent some will go to escape their fate, and in turn, the crimes committed to push them back to where they began.


Living in rural community can be a blessing and a curse due to long community memories. Dove Carnahan grew up in Buchanan, Pennsylvania as the eldest of three illegitimate children. Her illegitimacy was overlooked, if not “forgiven,” when her mother was murdered. Now Dove is working as the sheriff in her hometown and must deal with another murder that has the town buzzing in Angels Burning by Tawni O’Dell.

It’s usually hard to keep secrets in a small community, but the Truly family has more than their fair share of secrets. Sheriff Dove Carnahan is forced to try to delve into these secrets while she investigates the brutal murder of 17-year-old Camio Truly. Dove is not a novice law enforcement officer, but she’s only been involved in three murder investigations over a 25-year span. She has no choice but to accept the assistance of the regional state police investigator, Nolan Greeley, who just happens to be her married occasional lover. If dealing with a secretive and insular family like the Trulys wasn’t bad enough, Dove also has to contend with the release of the man found guilty of her mother’s murder and he’s accusing Dove and her sister Neely of lying about his guilt. Just when she thinks it can’t get any worse, her estranged brother Champ returns after a 27-year absence with his nine-year-old son in tow. Dove has no choice but to deal with her past, her family’s past, as well as the Truly’s family past. What is the truth behind her mother’s murder? Why did her brother stay away and incommunicado for so many years? Can Dove solve the murder of Camio Truly without destroying the Truly family?

Ms. O’Dell has packed quite a lot of action and chills in Angels Burning. Some of the topics include pedophilia, rape, incest, and murder. The characters in this story include good people, not-so-good people, and very bad people, as well as people that are a mixture of good, not-so-good, and bad. Dysfunctional families are the more the norm than not, and the Carnahan family is just as dysfunctional as the Trulys, yet both seem to think that although they have issues it’s not as bad as the other family. It might be easy to think that Angels Burning is a dark story, but it isn’t. Ms. O’Dell has provided realistic characters in a realistic environment dealing with all-too-realistic scenarios, and yes, some of these scenarios are dark. The characters are all flawed and they all seem to know it, but most are striving to make the best of their bad situations. Did I enjoy reading Angels Burning? Yes! I found Angels Burning to be an engrossing read that captured my attention from the first page to the very last. If you enjoy reading realistic psychological thrillers, then you’ll definitely want to read Angels Burning. If you’ve never read a psychological thriller, then put Angels Burning on your to-be-read list, it will not disappoint.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Angels Burning


Author: thebookdivasreads

I'm a reader, an avid reader, or perhaps a rabid reader (at least according to my family). I enjoy reading from a variety of different genres but particularly enjoy fiction, mystery, suspense, thrillers, ChickLit, romance and classics. I also enjoy reading about numerous non-fiction subjects including aromatherapy, comparative religions, herbalism, naturopathic medicine, and tea.

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