For the past year, crime reporter Tom Reed has been having a rough time of it. Ever since attributing the murder of little Tanita Marie Donner to the wrong man in a news story, anyone can have a bad day. But the man he identified committed suicide and you can’t undo dead. Because of the tragedy, he’s carrying a big old burden of guilt. But it’s a year later and guess what? Yup, another child has disappeared and Reed is chomping at the bit to be assigned to the story. Will the none-too-bright putz of an editor realize that Reed deserves a second chance? And will Reed be able to overcome his own reservations about following his hunches? After all, it was a hunch that got him into trouble the last time.
The above is a partial list of the challenges that Tom Reed faces in Rick Mofina’s IF ANGELS FALL. It’s the first-time I read this author, and I’ve gotta say, Mofina’s pretty damn good. The story was taut, engaging, and, overall, delivered a bang of a thrill. It certainly helped that the novel centered on such a compelling issue as child abduction. Everyone can pretty much relate to how incredibly painful that must be, so from the start, I was involved and completely sympathetic to the plight the parents of the missing children were in.
The first chapter opened with the kidnapping of a child from under his parent’s nose. Yes, I was yelling at the dad to put down the paper and LOOK! But it only takes a second for the unimaginable to happen and become all too real. I do have to mention that the next few chapters had elements in them that were confusing. I’m not the brightest bulb on the tree (but am the sweetest cookie on the plate!), so the going back and forth in revealing details left me wondering if Mofina were talking real time or if the events were in the past. To be fair, I was kind of loopy-doopy when I started reading this book, and am willing to attribute a lot of my perplexity on this, but then there’s this chapter further on … it closes with a snappy line and I’ll be darned if I can figure out what Mofina is referring to. I mean, I want to know. I really do, but have no clue as to what was meant. I would say that, except for that one-liner, most of this cloudiness disappears about one-fourth of the way through the story. I would also say that the truth of why I had problems is because Mofina is smarter than I am. While I appreciate a smart author, he doesn’t have to rub it in.
Once you get past this and into the story, the action just doesn’t stop. I was exhausted by keeping up, and emotionally strung out and left on the line as each one of these little children are plucked out of their normal lives and deposited in Psychoville. Oh, and the perp is just such a creep! I would love to kick his butt and I was so hoping for a happy ending, but Mofina just kept me dangling in the wind until he was ready to deliver an ending that’ll have you holding your breath until the last minute. Not fair, but it’s exactly what we readers are looking for.
The characters were extremely well-developed and their actions organic. There were no incendiary moments stemming from a writer’s plot-driven desire to include them. Rather, they were birthed out of circumstances and the character’s psychology. Consequently, there are lots of mistakes made, but they’re completely understandable. It makes for an even better read because foibles are as important as heroic actions in holding our attention.
I would definitely recommend this book and will read Rick Mofina again. It makes for a perfect read at midnight or any other time. Congrats to Mr. Mofina for delivering an outstanding read! Five stars 'cause that's the way I roll!