|Depending on your viewpoint, I'm either the very best or the
very worst person to write the review for Erin McCarthy's
latest, Fallen. I'm fascinated by angel mythology, love the
city of New Orleans, and prefer my characters with flaws.
An entire series based on flaws and individuals suffering
for giving into them is a different concept; many authors
like their characters to come across ... well, angelic.
Perfect. Sterling. McCarthy takes a different route – the
Seven Deadly Sins series is about angels, falling from grace
for committing human sins while doing their duty as
guardians over the race.
Fallen brings us to Gabriel (going by the surname of St.
John in 21st-century New Orleans), who is a true crime
novelist. His newest novel involves two crimes: the first,
of a prostitute in 1849 who the evidence suggests he killed
himself while in a drug-and-alcohol-induced haze that would
become the reason for his falling. The second crime, just a
year ago, involves the mother of Sara Michaels, a crime lab
technician, who Gabriel recruits to help him with the book.
Gabriel doesn't let Sara know what he is, or that he,
therefore, can answer many of the "unanswerable" questions
about the Anne Donovan case. On the flip side of that, Sara
neglects to tell Gabriel about the fact that she, her
mother, and two other murdered women before her, are
descendents of Anne Donovan. Sara's got control issues and
is terrified that her mother's murderer will come after her
next, especially given the pattern in her mother's family.
She's recovering from an addiction to painkillers, and
despite the fact that both know two addictive personalities
together spells disaster, they get involved – kind of. Part
of Gabriel's punishment for his sins is that women become
addicted to him if he touches them.
There is a great deal of intrigue in Fallen, though the
suspense falls pretty short except for a scene or two at the
very end. The end twists a few times, and may trick some
readers, which – no pun intended – was unexpected. With a few
more scenes of the sort to keep readers on the edges of
their seats, this would most likely have been a five-heart
Too much suspense, however, would have hurt the fact that
the book is primarily character-driven. There is so much
beauty in the characters' flaws, and McCarthy makes the best
of them. Likewise, her New Orleans proudly bares all of its
stains as well, drawing the reader into enjoying the
ambience in spite of the ugliness that accompanies any city. There seems to be a very philosophical edge to Fallen especially coming from an author otherwise known for her very chick-lit-esque Vegas vampire series, and the message
that everything is glorious in its own way under – or perhaps
because of – its flaws is flawlessly delivered.
It should be mentioned that this novel is not typical of any
particular genre, paranormal, romance, or murder mystery.
It's a complex combination of the three, and is certainly
not the light read most of McCarthy's fans will expect.
Gabriel is a fallen angel, after all, gone to the dark, and
unlike most series that revel in that, he accepts it for
what it is and fights the dark side of himself that brought
him to this point. The reader is not spared from his
struggle, and I feel that this series must be approached
with an open mind.