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A Terrible Fall of Angels

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Member Reviews

This story is the first book in what looks to be an amazing series. Detective Zaniel “Havoc” Havelock is on a special force known as the Metaphysical Coordination Unit, but most everyone calls this unit the Heaven and Hell Unit. They deal with crimes on both the human and spiritual sides and try to maintain the peace between both. As a trained Angel Speaker, he has the ability to communicate with the celestial beings that only he can see. When a string of murders begins happening, Zaniel must use every ounce of his training to try and solve the case before more innocent people die. There is a lot in this story, but every angle has a reason for it being told and builds the world for the upcoming books in the series. I really feel for Zaniel as he is being pulled in so many directions that at times, he feels that is too much to handle, but there is so much for him unravel with the crimes that he asked to investigate. This is definitely a page turner that will have readers devouring every word. Cannot wait to see what happens next.
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Urban Fantasy author Laurell K. Hamilton talks with Writers, After Dark about the first book in her new series, A Terrible Fall of Angels, which happens to also be her first with a male lead protagonist.

Laurell talks about her new detective hero, angel expert Zaniel Havelock, his history and the journey he will be going on, and more. It’s a tough job when you know Armageddon has rules but you’re not allowed to know exactly what those rules encompass.

She also talks about her research into angels and their nature, her fascination on the disagreements between different religious & historical texts about which ones are actually fallen (or not), the placement of devils, demons and fallen angels and much more.

Laurell dives into how this new series came about, and how different it is to write than the stories for the Anita Blake and Merry Gentry series, and her desire to write something that inspires more hope led to getting this story completed.
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Another excellent series from Laurell K. Hamilton. I've been a fan of the author for a long time, and it was so fun to see her writing a new (male!) character. I recently listened to an interview by Ms. Hamilton where she talked about her process to feel comfortable writing a male character--and also writing about angels, which make up so much of this book. I think this is a great version of a new take on contemporary fantasy and would recommend it.
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I keep telling myself that I can love a Laurel K Hamilton book, but this is another one that just isn't for me. I think it's time that I stop trying to love these books. But they're so popular! I must be missing something....
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Author interview with Laurell K. Hamilton

Today’s author interview guest is Laurell K. Hamilton, author of the new book A Terrible Fall of Angels (A Zaniel Havelock Novel Book 1).

Angels walk among us, but so do other unearthly beings in this brand new series by #1 New York Times Bestselling author Laurell K. Hamilton.
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"A Terrible Fall of Angels"
    by Laurell K. Hamilton
Did not finish....
Don't bother with this one.
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Hamilton has a new series out that follows Detective Zaniel Havelock who can communicate with angels. He was raised at the College of Angels as an Angel speaker but left the college after a terrible betrayal, pursued the army, and then became a police detective. When women start showing up dead, he is positive there’s evil at work but is unsure if it is just a person who is evil or a demon of something more sinister at work.

The series has a lot of potential, though the first book was a little slow for me. I needed more background on Havelock and the college than what was given. I kept feeling like there was a book I had missed reading, though that wasn’t the case.

I look forward to reading the next book in the series with the hope that there will be more of everything.
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The book blurb for A Terrible Fall of Angels sounded like a very interesting story. However, when I tried reading the book, I really struggled and had to call it quits after the first few chapters. I wasn't able to connect with Zaniel and I had a hard time following the storyline. I definitely think this story has an audience, it just wasn't for me.
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A cop in a special unit specific to investigating supernatural-related crime gets an angelic visit at a murder scene that sets in motion an investigation that resonates in the highest courts of Heaven and lowest of Hell.  An already top author for earlier urban fantasy triumphs, I was keen to give this author a go in an all new urban fantasy series.

A Terrible Fall of Angels introduces a human who has certain magical gifts that connect him strongly with angels and led to much of his early life spent living with and trained by others like him before tragedy struck and he left that world to make a new life for himself in the outside world that included the military first and now law enforcement.  Zaniel ‘Havoc’ Havelock is a seasoned veteran detective and this new case forces him to confront his past and learn what he never knew about the College of Angels, an old friend, and his own powerful gift.  His demonic opponent is formidable and a mystery even to the angels.

One of my favorite parts of starting a new urban fantasy series is getting introduced to an all new world especially when the author is gifted enough to paint a vivid picture of that world.  This book introduces the world and the characters in a way that was slower, but not a big dump.  The plot is interspersed with the ‘getting to know you’ stuff and intense action scenes and teasing intrigues that may or may not get answered in this book or the rest of the series.

Zaniel is a guy still coming into his own after a unique past, growing up at the College of Angels and groomed to work with angel magic until one fateful event, a born protector who runs toward trouble and danger if it will save others and ends up in jobs like the military or the police where he can do what he’s good at.  But, his job has cost him and he is having to fight to get his wife and son back because his wife is unable to deal with his career (though he was doing it when she met and married him).

She masks her fear that he will be lost in the line of duty by her unreasonable anger that Zaniel can only scratch his head about.  For example, in their therapy session, she gets mad if he looks at her, but then turns around and gets mad if he doesn’t look at her.  She gets mad and accuses him of spying on her and seeing someone behind her back when she is the one flipping out when he talks on the phone to a woman co-worker and she was the one who proposed they start seeing other people- which he has not.  This stressful personal side to the story does take up at least half of the book with the case he is working.  Honestly, I can appreciate that the author wanted Zaniel’s life to be cemented in reality with this situation with his wife, but I do hope it resolves soon and doesn’t drag on.  I could care less if he gets back with his wife the way she is acting and trying to manipulate him, but the poor guy thinks he’s miserable without her.  Good thing he has a demon murdering people and hurting his co-workers to keep him occupied.

I don’t know how to make this point without probably getting misunderstood and offending some folks, but I wanted to point it out because it was prevalent and, frankly, got tedious.   The author made meticulous efforts- walking on egg shells, really- to broadcast inclusiveness, equality, and sensitivity to current social and cultural issues.  She would pull over and park on it rather than smoothing it in with the progression of the plot.

The action scenes were great combo of cop work and magic.  The author didn’t stint on these and I felt I was right in the moment.  Zaniel and his fellow cops were really in a battle when they were face to face with the demon.  Things got gritty and dire.  Then there was the mysterious magical artifact that really wrecked havoc and Zaniel was forced to call on angelic power he was afraid to use.  Just the sort of excitement I enjoy in an urban fantasy.

Like any good urban fantasy series foundation book, A Terrible Fall of Angels has all the good stuff going for it: introduction of a core group of fascinating and complex characters including Zaniel, curious and mysteries threads that are left open, relationships introduced, and of course the promise of an expanding series universe that includes angels and demons.  It did the job of whetting my appetite for more.  There is no cliffhanger, but enough after the main arc of the book was completed to make one desire the next book.

This is a good time for other readers to get in on the ground floor for this urban fantasy with a supernatural world that focuses on angels and demons and the humans who hold the middle ground.
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This was my first read by this author so I have nothing to compare this new series to. I've always been curious about Ms. Hamilton's work because of the popularity of her Anita Blake books. However, as a blogger I just didn't have the time to attempt an established 28 book series when I have so many ARC obligations on my plate. That's why I jumped at the chance to try out her new Zaniel Havelock series. My first impression here was that she's a big fan of detail. Normally that's a good thing to have intricate world building in urban fantasy. In this case, it was on the opposite side of the spectrum from "too little, too late." There were supernatural lessons like these littered through every chapter- even in the middle of character building, internal dialogue. 

You take your time to get a good grasp on what is being explained, but the problem is that the infernal creature committing murders in the central mystery plot breaks all the rules in the rulebook. So this thing has abilities that contradict everything we've been told and by the end of the book, there was only the barest hint of why that could be. I understand that this is the introduction to a very long series and we should expect things to be drawn out far into the future, but I felt that the purpose of this book was to simply teach us who the characters were and begin to explain the world they live in. There were many different plot arcs such as Zaniel's marriage difficulties, his friend Levanael's mental illness recovery, his mysterious past affair with a Seraphim, the events that broke his faith in the college of angels, and attempting to piece together the mystery of the demon possessed/merged Cookson. The plot was so erratic, jumping from one point to another, that your attention never truly has time to engage with any one thing. To be frank, my favorite parts of the book were the action sequences where Zaniel was facing off with the demonic being. All of the other parts were often rambling, disjointed scenes stuck together. 

Zaniel grew up in the College of Angels. For a long time, he believed that he was training for a higher purpose and putting his supernatural gifts with angels to good use. He and his best friends Surrie and Lev were like the three musketeers in the strict religious faction he lived in until he broke away and joined the military. Something happened to severely disillusion him and I sensed that it was caused by the leaders in particular. However, what they were being taught about angels and demons actually seemed valid. Zaniel himself truly has the ability to communicate with angels and yet he feels as if he has just been indoctrinated by the group. 

Zaniel is able to withstand holy fire and speak with the higher forms of Celestial beings without dying or going crazy. Surrie helps heal people who are demon touched-once again, a true ability. She's even called in as a consultant for one of Zaniel's jobs on the force. And yet, the college is classified as a cult by Zaniel and the rest of society. There was even a Netflix documentary about their cult-like practice of recruiting children and then permanently keeping them from their parents. Why would the police force recruit help from a cult? That would be like recruiting a Scientologist even though its been established that they are brainwashed at best and criminals at worst. The definition of a cult is a religious sect considered to be extremist or false. Most of the time led by one charismatic or deranged leader. Holding the kids captive fits, the extreme rules forced on the members, the disassociation from members who leave...they fit. So then why are they teaching them legitimate skills rooted in truth? Why did Zaniel feel loyalty towards the "masters" at the College when they very clearly failed his friend and ruined his mind for over a decade? I was baffled as to why he seemed to be defending them when Levanael confided in him that they played a large role in his tragic break from reality. It didn't begin to come together for me. 

Again, I get that there will be many books to come in the series that will potentially shed some light on all of my questions and inconsistencies. I just don't know if I am suitably invested in our hero Zaniel enough to wade any deeper into these murky waters. I felt like he was a good guy for the most part, but I didn't get a full grasp of what shaped him to be who he is now. And by the time book two comes around, the characters and plot points will need to be refreshed in my mind all over again. If you love complex stories and paranormal series with very detailed world building this could very well be the book for you. Unfortunately, this one was just okay for me so I think I may have to throw in the towel here.
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I am a huge fan of Laurell K. Hamilton. I was very excited that NetGally sent me this to read. 
I took me a while to get through. It was extremely well written of course. I have always loved Laurell’s writing. 
A Terrible Fall of Angels is essentially a murder mystery with a bit of supernatural, it wasn’t for me. Don’t get me wrong, the story was good, I just didn’t connect with the characters of this one. 
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone that loves murder mysteries because I know it will resonate better with those readers.
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This book is the first in a new series by Laurell K. Hamilton and is a shift from her other two series. While this series still follows the paranormal and includes some police work/crime solving it stars a male main character who can speak to (and see) angels. While this book started out the gate very strong and fast paced, I quickly found myself struggling as the chapters seemed to grow longer and longer towards the end of the book. I love the concept of this book and the world building - but I just do not love being in Zaniel’s brain. I am curious to see where his character development goes as the series progresses, but I just didn’t feel as invested as I wanted to. I also struggled to connect with the supporting characters as viewed through his brain. Overall I liked this book, I just didn’t love it. 

Thank you Netgalley for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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This is the first Laurel K. Hamilton book I've read in years. An exciting premise convinced me to give her another try after the disappointing paths her other two series took. I got to almost the halfway mark when suddenly the entire story changed. It became unstable as it seemed as if another writer entered into the fray. The writing became repetitive, overly verbose, and almost childlike. The mystery takes a definite back story to the lead's attempt to reconcile with his wife. As I continue to read, the writing switches back and forth as if two people are writing it. I was able to continue for a little bit but the conflicting personalities of the writing was just too great and I was unable to keep track with the varied subplots that seemed to take over like kudzu.

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A TERRIBLE FALL OF ANGELS is different, a good beginning, a little wordy, but with enough action, intrigue, and danger to keep readers glued to the pages, and wanting to see what comes next.

Reviewed for Fresh Fiction by Annetta Sweetko

Complete review:
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This is the second book I've read by Hamilton and I'm not sure I mesh well with her writing style. I am not a fan of the asides and anecdotes that are peppered throughout the prose in an almost ADHD-type fashion. Although they can be intriguing, that is almost a problem because they are so short and rarely pay off as plot points. They often interrupt the momentum of the story.
Still, it was interesting world-building, setting up a new character and series. I don't know that I would continue reading the story myself, but I do have friends that would enjoy it that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to!
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Oh my, was I on the struggle bus with this one! I am more than a week late with this review and I feel terrible, it's the first book commitment I've made that I struggled to keep. I generally fly through books in a day or two - this one took me 16 days. I'm not sure why, I like fantasy and this is a well known author (even though I've never read her myself). The premise was really interesting, a cop who can communicate with angels in a world like ours but where magic is just more accessible.

It had elements I really liked including blending fantasy and religion (although I didn't love the way it treated those religions but I digress...). The magic and the fantastical beings were really cool and the descriptions of them were fun to read.

What I struggled with is there was a total information dump throughout. Even when we were following the characters around, the information about the mundane interactions they had were exhausting. How many times did we need to learn about the main character changing his clothing? His interactions with his wife were really uncomfortable, he seemed to worship her even though she was not the nicest person. It was also not easy to see where the book was going, things happened SO SLOWLY! I literally made it through less than 10% on my kindle each day because I just struggled with the writing. I was compelled to know what was happening but probably would have DNF-ed if I hadn't committed to a book tour. I usually only post reads that are three stars or higher here but this one just didn't get there for me. Even the ending felt like a rushed info dump that I just didn’t find satisfying. But just because it wasn't for me doesn't mean that it won't be for you, so if you're looking for a good mystery with angels and demons and you have patience for some irrelevant minutiae and annoying characters than give this one a try.

Thanks to Berkley for a copy of this novel. All opinions above are my own.
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Confession - as much as I read large amounts of urban fantasy, particularly those with some sort of Investigator main character, I haven't really gotten into Hamilton's earlier works.  I gave Anita the college try, working through a handful of books, but while I respected her work I never grew invested in the series.  

But, Guilty Pleasures came out in 1993.  Thirty years is a long time for someone to hone and refine their craft, and Hamilton's body of work and impact on the genre speaks volumes to her skill.  So a brand new series made me sit up and pay attention.  I wanted to see where this went, and I was not let down in the slightest.  

A Terrible Fall of Angels gives us a new setting, one where faith and belief can shape your magic, one where children can be taken and taught to act as a conduit for angelic voices.  Zaniel was an Angel Speaker, until he left his calling and started his life over.  He still works on the side of the angels, for where there are angels there are demons, but he's learning things aren't quite as he was taught and there are more allies than just those of the celestial chorus standing against the darkness.

I'd recommend this book to fans of Hamilton's earlier works, as well as fans of series such as Tad William's Bobby Dollar or Paul Cornell's London Falling.
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In A Terrible Fall of Angels, paranormal bestselling author Laurell K. Hamilton invites readers into a new world full of angels, demons, and magic all around.

Detective Zaniel Havelock spent his youth at the College of Angels, training to be an Angel Speaker, primed to spend his life interacting directly with angels. But when he sees the grim reality of the College of Angels, Havelock does the unthinkable and leaves. Joining the local paranormal unit of the police department, Zaniel uses his angelic sight to help civilians with their Guardian Angels. When a demon starts acting out, and survives when he shouldn’t, Zaniel is drawn into a physical and mental battle unlike anything he’s ever experienced before. As old friends return and long-kept secrets are revealed, Zaniel finds his faith tested like never before.

I’ve been a huge fan of both the Anita Blake and Merry Gentry series, so I was very excited when I learned that Laurell K. Hamilton was embarking on a new series, this one full of angels and demons instead of vampires, shifters, and fae. It was refreshing to meet all these new characters and learn about new abilities and situations. Hamilton, I think, has a nice way of world building; she doesn’t lay everything out at the beginning and make things too detail-heavy right from the start, but allows her readers to explore her fictional world gradually and make discoveries right alongside the main character. I do think there were some questions that could have been answered or explained earlier in the novel, and there are definitely some unknowns that will likely be focal points for future books in the series, but overall A Terrible Fall of Angels had great world building with intriguing characters and an engaging plot.

Hamilton has had faith play interesting roles in her previous series, and some of those elements pop up in her newest work. I loved that, in a book centered around angels and demons, Hamilton features Wiccans, witches, and totems so heavily. There was fantastic allegory behind a team of various faiths supporting each other as a team and being stronger together. And as with any other Hamilton story, the main character discovers a lot about himself and everything he thought he knew about his allies and enemies, all while pursuing the bad guy.

Being the first book in the series, Zaniel still needs a bit of fleshing out; he can easily come across as a bit flat when compared to the dynamic characters that Anita and Merry have become throughout their series. As readers, we’re still learning who he is as a character by the end of the book. Despite bits and pieces from his marriage and fleeting mentions of his youth at the College of Angels, there is still a lot to learn about our main character and I look forward to seeing more of Zaniel’s character in the future.

A Terrible Fall of Angels is very reminiscent of early Anita Blake books in style and character development. Since I know one of the larger complaints about Hamilton’s writing involves her including too much sex, especially in the later books in her series, A Terrible Fall of Angels will be a nice reprieve for anyone who enjoyed the early Anita Blake stories for their characters and plots and found themselves turned off by all the sex.

Incorporating both new and familiar story elements, A Terrible Fall of Angels will intrigue new fans, long term fans, and returning fans of Laurell K. Hamilton.
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I'm all for urban fantasy that contains angels, demons and all sorts of magics. In A Terrible Fall of Angels, Laurell K. Hamilton introduces readers to a new world departed from her Anita Blake and Mercy Gentry novels. This first book is filled with a lot of world building. Readers are also introduced to some interesting characters including the main character, Zaniel "Havoc" Havelock. We are thrown into the thick of things immediately as Havok is in the midst of an investigation that may or may not involved celestial beings. While the story is interesting and I'm eager to see how she proceeds in the series, I did find some of the flow of the book a bit clunky. At times the transition between plot, Havoc's personal drama, other character development and world development seemed abrupt. For my personal taste, I think the interactions with his wife, Reggie, could have been left to reflection on the relationship with maybe the introduction of the actual character happening in the second book. I think this is the case with a lot of the book, it is mainly a set up for the series, but I am not sure how well it actually stands up on it's own. The world definitely has me intrigued.
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First, I have to say that I’m surprised at just how good this book is. Pleased as punch, but also surprised as Heaven, as the characters in the book would say.

Second, I feel the need to say upfront that nobody gets laid in this book. I know that’s a strange place to start a review, but as one of the many readers who loved the first few Anita Blake books before they got to be a sex-fest, I felt like that needed to be said early on because it became such an overwhelming feature of both the Anita Blake and Merry Gentry series.. Not that there isn’t a potential romance brewing – actually more than one – but this book goes back to the good old days of urban fantasy, back when the main character had a magical or mysterious crime to solve and a love life like a sinking ship. When the focus was on the story and the world and the insanely powerful beings who were out messing things up and not on how many people the protagonist could get between the sheets.

The above is probably going to disappoint some readers who are expecting more of like her other series, but it was a relief to me. Your reading mileage may vary.

Zaniel “Havoc” Havelock is a detective in the Metaphysical Coordination Unit of the City of Angels, which is probably a stand-in for the city of Los Angeles, whose name literally translates from Spanish as “the Angels”. His world, and his city, are a variation of our own, not just a place where magic works, as is so often the case in urban fantasy, but a place where angels manifest in the world and where specially talented children, including Zaniel once upon a time, are recruited by the hierarchy that serves the Angels to be their representatives here on Earth.

Zaniel was trained to be an angel-speaker. But something broke – it seems like a lot of things broke – just as he was about to take his final vows. So he left, joined the army, and eventually became a cop who deals with crimes that involve angels and/or demons. And that’s where we meet him, called into a case because an angel has deliberately left a feather at the scene of a rape/murder that otherwise has no ethereal or infernal overtones whatsoever.

Until the angel who left that feather tells Zaniel that circumstances are not at all what they appear, and that there is something infernal going on in the City of Angels that not just should not be happening but that should not even be capable of happening.

And that it is up to Zaniel to pick up the mantle he left behind, or at least as much of it as he is willing to carry, figure out what has gone so terribly wrong, and fix it – along with possibly himself – before the impossible-to-exist demon gets too big for anyone to possibly stop.

First Anita Blake book, cover circa 1993
Escape Rating A: I have to say that I picked this up because my curiosity bump itched something fierce. I loved the early Anita Blake books, back when in the day when they were urban fantasy with just a hint of paranormal romance, but I kept on reading long after they turned into recitations of just how much sex Anita had. At least the Merry Gentry series started out that way, so I knew what I was getting into. But for me, at least, there’s a point where other people’s sex lives gets boring, and Anita passed that somewhere earlier in the series than when I finally stopped reading it.

So I came into this book with a whole lot of reading baggage in the hopes I might get to drop some of it. And I’m extremely happy to say that I was able to drop pretty much all of it. Because A Terrible Fall of Angels harkens back in the best way to the early Anita Blake books. It’s solidly urban fantasy, with terrific setup and just enough otherworldly world building to create a strong foundation for a new series.

And in Zaniel “Havoc” Havelock the author has created an appropriately tormented detective with a fascinating background and a foot in both camps. He’s a veteran police detective in the unit that handles crimes that are wrapped around the axle of angels and demons, who are real and manifest entirely too frequently in our world – to both their and our cost.

Because what’s good for the demons, and even what’s good for the angels, might not be what’s good for humanity. As Havoc knows entirely too well. As the story opens, we don’t know what happened in Havoc’s past to tear him away from his upbringing in the College of Angels and place him on the streets of the city as a cop. We just know that whatever it was it was heartbreaking in a way that is still echoing through his life like the tolling of a bell.

The other thing we know about Havoc is that his current personal life is a mess. He’s separated from the wife and child that he loves because she can’t handle being a cop’s wife. They’re still in counseling but even though there seems to be some hope at the end of this story I honestly hope they don’t make it. It reads like there’s something wrong with her – or wrong with the way she treats him – that can’t be fixed.

On the other hand, and very different from the author’s previous series, Zaniel is still married, still hopeful, and still in love with his wife. He finds other women attractive, and he’s tempted but he never crosses that line. And that was a huge surprise throughout the entire book.

One of the things that fascinated me about the way that this world and its magic systems are set up is that in spite of the influence of angels and demons, all faiths and belief systems are recognized as not just valid but as having actual power – by everyone except those who serve the angels. A conflict that I suspect is going to become more overt and more problematic as the series continues. Or at least I hope so.

This turned out to be a fast one-day read for me. I absolutely could not put it down. It reminded me of the early Anita Blake books in all the best ways, particularly the way that it seemed like there was a force embedded between the pages that kept me reading late into the night because I was so caught up in the story and it was just so good.

The world here is complex and compelling. Even as Havoc keeps unravelling the case and the case keeps on unravelling all the trauma in his past, there’s just so much going on and it was all just so captivating that I kept reading long after the point where I should have called it a night because I could not stop. I loved Zaniel as a character and really liked the cop shop vibe of the people who surround him at work in spite of not really liking his wife at all but still loving his continuing to try to make things better.

And the creeping evil of the crime spree put just the right amount of shiver up my spine. This was just very well done all the way around. I want more! Please!
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