Death Angel by Linda Howard
I read Death Angel about three weeks ago, and I immediately wanted to review it because it’s such a terrible book. It’s the worst Linda Howard I’ve ever read.
(One of my best friends keeps saying, “But what about the rapey one?” and I’m like, “lol which one, gurl?” If you’re into that, check out her book Raintree: Inferno (Silhouette Nocturne, 2007) for super borderline consent issues: mind control!)
Our heroine is the girlfriend of the head of a drug cartel who plays dumb as much as she can while she plans to steal all his money from him. One day he owes a debt to an assassin, so he gives the girlfriend to the assassin as a gift for a few hours. The girlfriend and the assassin actually have a really good time, and it devastates the girlfriend — which triggers something in the head of the cartel, who realizes he actually loves her. He loves her, and he’s never loved anyone before. While he’s having this life-changing realization, she steals all his money, changes her look, and runs away.
The head of the cartel hires the assassin to get her back.
He chases her down, they have a terrible car crash, she’s impaled by a tree, and the assassin — also in love with her — stays with her until she dies.
Except she’s not dead. She has a death experience and is brought back to life by … the afterlife. She’s been dead for an hour, but she comes back to life, and everyone thinks she’s dead, so she’s … safe.
This is the first third of the book.
Let me tell you something: you think it’s a wild ride? It is sadly not. It’s actually kind of boring and tedious. It’s not even morally exciting. We don’t even get to know who the girlfriend really is or what she really wants. Dying and coming back doesn’t really change her because there was nothing there to really change. Everything about this book is empty.
Spoiler: at the end, the girl and the assassin end up together and don’t keep the money she stole from the cartel boyfriend.
This book tries to do so much and ends up doing nothing at all.
While I read it (it was so painful), I kept thinking of the first romance novel I ever read and thought to myself, “I like this, I want more” — not just reading because it was there, or because I inherited my great-grandmother’s collections of Harlequin Presents. I picked the book out at a drugstore because I liked the back cover copy; I read it as quickly as I could because I loved everything about it; I searched out more books by the author because I thought it was amazing; when the author transitioned to hardcover I spent hard-earned money that I could not afford buying those hardbacks. My entire career as a romance editor basically started with this book — before this book, I read 80% science fiction and fantasy and it was hard to sway me from those shelves.
That book was Shades of Twilight by Linda Howard and I was fifteen, or maybe I’d just turned sixteen when I found it, and I haven’t read it in a good fifteen years or so, but I can’t believe these two books were written by the same person.
I admit that I don’t think Linda Howard has written a truly good book since the 90s (Now You See Her — her first hardcover, 1998, so good), but I also admit I’ve kind of stopped reading her books and Death Angel is a perfect example of why. Life is too short.
Although writing this all down makes me want to go buy myself a copy of Son of the Morning and settle in for some time traveling Templars.