Wednesday, March 3, 2010

This month’s book: Angel’s Gate by Gary Crew

angel's gate I first read this book years ago and have never quite forgotten it, so when I was thinking about a book for this month I decided to read it again. What a surprise to find that not only do I still love it, I think I appreciate it even more now. Angel’s Gate is a mystery, but it’s one of those mysteries that’s more than just a mystery. There is a murder, but the real suspense involves the existence (or not?) of two only-partially-glimpsed wild children, and the dangerous situation they are in. After a man is found murdered, rumors start to surface of him having a child living with him. Some people also claim to have seen another figure under a tarp in the back of his truck, and it is speculated that maybe he had two children living with him out in the bush. Everyone is looking for them, some to help them, but someone (the murderer) may want to silence them. The book takes place in the hills of Jericho, Australia, where Kimmy is growing up in an old building that also houses his father’s office and clinic (his father is the town doctor, his mother the nurse). Because the building used to be a barracks for soldiers, there are bars on the basement windows where the old cells are. When the first child is caught, the police naturally bring her to the doctor’s office, and she is kept in one of the cells while Kimmy’s parents try to nurse her back to health and rehabilitate her. Kimmy befriends her and is frightened by her obvious fear whenever she hears boots scrunching on the gravel outside the windows –she whispers, “Mister.” Is Mister the killer? The story is complicated by the bad nature of one of the local policemen, Ben Cullen. Angel’s Gate gives a very detailed picture of life in a small town in Australia, and also paints a vivid picture of growing up in a family with a controlling father and an older sister who refuses to give in to him.