DARK ANGEL by John Dale


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 Rain-filled, roach-ridden Australian crime-thriller, a first novel showing great energy, dynamic storytelling, a winning fondness for the genre--and some first-rate tough talk. Dale slaps all of his reading and moviegoing into one pastiche, borrowing elements of Raymond Chandler's vision of L.A. in his descriptions of a seedy modern-day Sydney, mixing in some bloody, bone-crunching violence Ö la Jim Thompson, adding a case of incest reminiscent of the plot of Polanski's Chinatown, and a climax in which the hero winds up wounded and facing the feds in High Sierra shootout country--with a Casablanca kissoff. And it all works brilliantly. Jack Buturov, a bouncer at a Sydney casino, lifts $1,500 from the cashbox. When he rescues Damian Frick, a handsome young gay hustler, from a deadly beating, Damian repays him with sex and an offer to pull a job that will protect Jack from the consequences of his casino theft, help pay off his ex-wife Vicky, and buy an operation for his chronically ill son. Then Damian is murdered, both eyes shot out in broad daylight by Chinese Triad killers. When vengeance-driven Angela Frick, Damian's unmarried sister and the dark angel of the title, ropes Jack into helping her find her brother's killers, Sydney turns into a theme park of mayhem and beatings. Jack remains solidly immoral, ambisexual and a cheat, fixed absolutely on money--though sex does sometimes get his attention. Coursing like a force of nature, Angela, with her all-consuming lust for revenge, drives the novel's wheels until she's larger than life and utterly compelling. Her almost inhuman motivation remains unfathomable until the very end when she reveals that her six-year-old daughter Clea is the child of . . . well, let's draw a veil. Intense entertainment.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1996
ISBN: 1-85242-391-9
Page count: 304pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1996