Thursday, June 23, 2016

Dream with Little Angels

Dream with Little Angels
by Michael Hiebert
Recommended Ages: 13+

Ten-year-old Abe is the bright-for-his-age son of Alvin, Alabama's only police detective, a widowed mother of two named Leah Teal. Through his eyes, we see her wrestle with the disappearance of two teenage girls - both within a year of her puberty-stricken daughter Carry's age - and a brutal crime that brings back memories of a case she failed to solve before Abe was born. Leah must juggle a daughter who wants to sneak out at night to meet older boys, a son who believes their new neighbor across the street is up to no good, and a sense of failure that has come back with a vengeance, to find the real killer and the girl he still holds prisoner, even after the other cops think they have found the guy. Luckily, her too-curious-for-his-own-good son is a master at spotting things others have missed.

Abe is a delightful narrator: full of boyish goofiness and vulnerability, unable to tell whether something he says is inadvertently racist or not (to his mother's constant dismay), cool enough to put up with the oddness of his best friend Dewey, and basically good-hearted. His mistaken belief that he knows how to get through to his difficult sister adds a sprinkle of picaresque irony, and his ability to cope with gruesome discoveries is just a tiny bit disturbing - all part of a fascinating package. It will be interesting to see this kid grow and become more useful, or at least more keenly observant, of his mother's crime-solving process in books to come.

This is the first book of what I have seen described as either the "Detective Leah Teal" series or the "Alvin, Alabama" novels. Its sequels include Close to the Broken Hearted, A Thorn Among the Lilies, and the June 2016 release Sticks and Stones. The Canadian author has also written the novels Dolls and Darkstone, the short-story collection Sometimes the Angels Weep, and a book about writing titled Journeys Under the Moon.

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