Angel: Redemption, by Mel Odom

angel-redemption-by-mel-odom coverGenre: TV Series Tie-in
Publisher: Pocket Books
Published: 2000
Reviewer Rating:three stars
Book Review by Paul Kane

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Oh dear. Poor old Angel never seems to catch a break, does he? But then, that’s what you get for being a centuries old vampire out to atone for past wrongdoings (namely killing everyone in sight and drinking their blood). Yet in this new fiction adventure based on his TV series, the brooding undead detective finds that the redemption he’s seeking might just be closer than he thinks.

When the star of the hit fantasy show Dark Midnight, Whitney Tyler, is run off the road and almost staked, Angel is called upon to protect her from harm. Apparently there are some people out there who actually believe she’s a vampire, just like the character she plays: Honor Blaze. Unfortunately, some of these also happen to belong to an ancient cult sworn to rid the world of nosferatu – an ancient cult Angel has had a run-in with himself in 1758. However, after doing some digging he starts to discover that the case is not as clear-cut as it seems. Moreover, Whitney’s uncanny resemblance to a woman he encountered during his time as a vampire pirate is in danger of affecting his professional judgement…and costing his client her life.

Whitney’s dodgy producer Gunnar Schend is insistent that she carries on with her regular shooting schedule, but as more and more people around her drop dead, can she really take that chance? After all, not even Angel can be everywhere at once – even if he sometimes gives that impression. Will he be able to save Whitney from her fanatical enemies? Will he eventually work out what the link is between her and the woman from his past? And will Angel ever find the peace he so desperately craves?

Redemption is not just a good Angel book, it’s quite a neat horror adventure story in its own right – although newcomers might be a little confused by the references to Buffy and co. that crop up throughout. Thankfully author Odom has avoided the obvious pitfall of TV tie-ins, to wit recycling old Angel plots with a few nips and tucks. Even if its scope does exceed his ability sometimes, at least Odom’s trying something different with the formula – especially in the realm of subtext: the relationship between Whitney and Angel being a complex and paradoxical one. And then there’s the parallels between the character Whitney is playing and the one David Boreanaz plays (art imitating life imitating art…or something like that), plus the philosophical musings about what existence is really all about.

But don’t worry too much. For those of you who like your Angel action thick and fast, Odom is more than capable of delivering the goods. His fight and chase sequences are among some of the best I’ve ever read, matching the show’s style perfectly (just check out the rooftop pursuit with its ingenious staking finale involving a grappling hook, or the bit where a flaming stunt car nearly mows down Whitney). And after Channel 4’s recent butchery of Angel episodes in the UK it’s nice to know you can still find a few stomach-churning moments somewhere that have escaped the censor’s scissors (‘The dead man hung from the ceiling fan fixture overhead, a belt tight around his neck. Blood stained his chest all the way to his groin from his slashed throat.’). Not forgetting some choice Doyle/Cordelia banter – now don’t tell me you haven’t missed that.

To sum up, an angelic read (in spite of a few too many Highlander-type flashbacks), which should please fans and non-fans alike. Redeem yourselves today, my brothers and sisters.

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