Angel Baby by Richard Lange (Mulholland, May 2013)-Luz is married to Rolando. Rolando is a narco who has kept Luz drugged and under his thumb for 3 years. It doesn’t end with the drugs either. There’s humiliation and beatings too, punctuated with rare moments of tenderness. Rolando is about to have a big problem on his hands, though. Luz has had enough and has spent quite some time getting clean. She’s also developed a game plan for escaping Rolando, and she only has eyes for one thing once she gets away: the daughter she left behind. Luz is determined to escape the life she hates and make a life with the daughter she longs for, but Rolando is a scary, scary guy, and his reach is legion.
After a shocking act of violence, Luz does indeed escape Rolando, and she seeks out a way across the border into the US. Help comes in the unlikely form of Kevin Malone, a man trying desperately to escape the tragedy of his own past, cocooning himself in a haze of alcohol, and supporting himself by doing the occasional transport of illegals. When he’s charged with getting Luz to safety, something awakens in himself that’s been dormant for a long time, and he finds a new drive to see her safe. Maybe it’s her devotion to the daughter she hasn’t seen in years, and the strength it took to get away from such a powerful man. Whatever it is, it gets him involved much more than he would ever think of getting with jobs like this.
Soon, of course, Rolando discovers Luz has left him, and sends a pitbull of a man to retrieve her and somewhere along the line, a crooked Border Patrol agent gets in on the action. It’s a race to the finish, with a woman that will do absolutely anything to get back to her daughter. On the surface, Angel Baby may seem like a straightforward chase thriller, but it’s not. Kevin Malone is a tragic figure, and I couldn’t help but hope for an escape from pain by books end, and even the man that Rolando sends after Luz has three very good reasons for what he does. Make no mistake, he’s a killer, but it’s fierce love that drives him. The border patrol agent from hell (my nickname) is pretty awful. The guy disgusted me. However, the author enfolds enough tiny tidbits to suggest he’s not completely dead inside, although I think his chances of completely turning his situation around are slim to none. Then there’s Luz. Luz is beautiful, tough and knows exactly the effect she has on men. There’s a memorable scene where she uses that to terrifying advantage. She also longs for a life with her daughter, one where she’s not used and abused and it’s this that keeps her going through some pretty awful stuff. Angel Baby is a nonstop thrill ride and goes to some pretty dark places, but once you start it, you’ll want to see it through to the end, and what a helluva ending! Brutal, action packed, and sharp as hell, Angel Baby will keep fans of thrillers and suspense absolutely riveted!