Probably the worst thing I can say about Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg is that I figured out the twist by the second chapter. And, no, I didn’t even know it inspired the movie Angel Heart, let alone seen that movie.
That actually didn’t spoil the book for me. I knew where the story was heading and what the ending would be (and I was right, by the way) However, the actual journey to get there was the real reason to read the book. I’m pretty sure everyone who goes to see Antigone knows how it ends but buys the ticket anyway.
Falling Angels is a hybrid of horror, classic tragedy and hard boiled detective. And while the hard boiled detective genre frames the story, all three elements are essential to the story and are woven together surprisingly well.
Since the story is basically nothing but a whole bunch of twists, I am going to skip it to avoid spoilers. And, yes, it’s obvious but that doesn’t mean I feel like spoilers. A private detective named Harry Angel is hired by a Louis Cyphre. And bad things happen. There. That’s enough.
I’ll give this fair warning. There is some graphic violence in this book. It actually succeeds in being disturbing.
Falling Angel isn’t a perfect book but it does the things it needs to do to work well.