5 stars out of 5
When you've got a police chief named Dove Carnahan who jokes (or maybe not) that she was named for her late mother's favorite soap, what's not to love? Nothing, in my mind - nor was there anything not to love in the rest of this book (even though I was introduced to more dysfunctional families than I've seen since the days of Starsky and Hutch).
Dove, who's 50, has a younger brother who hasn't been heard of for years, a sister who much prefers dogs to people and a beautiful but dead mother who was totally devoid of motherly instincts and was murdered brutally in her bathtub when Dove was a child. Dove enjoys her job in the rural Pennsylvania town, where serious crime isn't the norm. But then, a beaten-to-death girl is found in an old, still-burning mine sinkhole; turns out she belongs to the Truly clan of local rednecks and [mostly] petty criminals.
To say family members are uncooperative when it comes to the investigation is an understatement; cooperating with police isn't even on their radar. In the middle of all this, the man who was convicted of killing Dove's mother gets out of jail and shows up, insisting he was innocent and threatening to make Dove's life - and her sister's - a living hell. Throw in news of the wayward brother, and things quickly get complicated.
Not, though, for the reader; the author is adept at showing us inside the lives and minds of all the characters - whether or not they're lovable (all I'll say about that is that nobody's flawless). There are some plot twists, one of which made my jaw drop; and while the ending didn't come as a total surprise, it certainly tweaked my heartstrings.
For me to highly recommend this one, then, is a no-brainer - and I thank the publisher, via NetGalley, for the opportunity to read and review it. It's just too bad that the rating scale tops out at 5 stars.
Angels Burning by Tawni O'Dell (Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc., January, 2016); 288 pp.