REVIEW: ANGELS BURNING, BY TAWNI O’DELL

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Police Chief Dove Carnahan is tough, makes her own rules, and chases away her childhood demons through her work in the small Pennsylvania town’s police station.

From the very first page, I was engrossed in Dove’s everyday life, from her work situations to the family issues that presented themselves.

Narrated in her first person voice, Angels Burning showed the reader her interior thoughts and feelings, and gave us a good sense of how she had managed to move past the bad stuff, including the fact that her mother was murdered when she herself was only fifteen. She protected her younger sister Neely and little brother Champ as best she could, but there were some things nobody could have protected them from.

Neely is another loner, living for the work she does training dogs for the police and as service animals. Like Dove, she has chosen the solitary life as a way to combat the problems created through family relationships.

The younger brother Champ has been gone for twenty-five years, and there is a hint of what happened in his childhood that darkens the dysfunction of the family they all shared. His reappearance with son Mason adds to the mystery of his life.

Just as the man imprisoned for murdering their mother is released and making threats, Dove is about to meet a tougher case than usual: the brutal murder of a teenage girl named Camio, whose beaten and burned body is discovered in a sinkhole.

Camio Truly came from the kind of family that everyone looked down on. Troubled, criminal, and downright “white trash,” the very idea of dealing with any of the family members could be challenging. But Camio was different. She was beautiful, bright, and had hopes for the future.

Who among the family members, if anyone, wanted her dead? Who had texted her boyfriend, using her phone? Why did someone encourage Camio’s brother to go after Zane, the boyfriend, when all signs suggest someone else was responsible?

Dove’s relationship with a state trooper adds some romantic interest to the story, but she clearly is best on her own, living in the privacy of the life she has chosen.

Underlying secrets shroud both Dove’s family and the Truly family, and as they are revealed, bit by bit, I was stunned. When the police peel back the layers of the Truly family, their secrets will yield up the final answers about who killed Camio. 4.5 stars.

***I received my e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley.

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