Go to Homepage   Lisa Miscione: Angel Fire


Crescent Blues Book ViewsSt. Martin's Minotaur (Hardcover), ISBN 0-312-28304-0
Meet Lydia Strong, best-selling true crime writer and investigator. Lydia possesses an instinct for crime, specifically murders. In Angel Fire, Miscione's debut novel, Lydia connects several murders, which the cops consider separate incidents. Soon Lydia finds herself mired in a serial murder case.

Book: lisa miscione, angel fireExhausted after completing her latest true crime book, Lydia flees New York City for her second home in Angel Fire, an actual New Mexico resort town 94 miles north of Santa Fe. Lydia also suffers from depression and anxiety, arising from the approaching anniversary of her mother's brutal rape and murder. Fifteen-year-old Lydia discovered her mother's body.

Even at 15, Lisa possessed a gift for observation. In the grocery store parking lot with her mother, she noticed a man staring at them. When she saw him following their car, she wrote down his license number. At the murder scene, Lydia discovered one of her mother's earrings missing. This information helped the FBI nail a serial rapist and killer, who collected his victims' earrings as souvenirs.

FBI agent Jeffery Mark worked the case. He remained in touch with Lydia, ultimately founding a successful Manhattan P.I. firm, which uses Lydia's crime-solving talents. Jeffrey loves the grown-up Lydia, now 30, who in turn loves him. She cannot, however, open herself to the relationship. Scenes between the two emanate suppressed sexual tension and longing.

Juno Alonzo, a blind man who grew up in his uncle's parish, the Church of the Holy Name in Angel Fire, also figures prominently in the book. People once considered Alonzo a "healer," until he failed to prevent a young boy's death after an organ transplant. Lydia believes a connection exists between him and the murders.

Unfortunately, Angel Fire fails to integrate its Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico setting into the narrative. Miscione never captures the atmosphere of this small, but cosmopolitan capital city with adobe buildings, a historical plaza and the two-tower St. Francis cathedral. The omnipresent tourists never appear. Miscione, however, describes in detail Lydia's house, presumably to convey the protagonist's personality. This exposition proved tedious.

To her credit, however, Miscione makes the Angel Fire church a character with evocative descriptions such as:

White and immovable like the moon [the church] rose from the dust and the weeds. It was just as it was one hundred years ago, solid and righteous as if it had grown from the earth like a mountain. It was so sure of itself, its walls painted orange, pink, purple by the rising sun.

Unfortunately, Angel Fire contains a major factual error concerning heart transplantation. Contrary to the medical examiner's hypothesis, once removed from the body, a heart requires immediate cooling. Nevertheless, Angel Fire provides an entertaining read of a character struggling with loss and guilt while mustering the strength to stop another serial killer.

Lynn I. Miller

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