Title: Angel Fire
Author: Lisa Unger
Release Date: August 9, 2011
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5
When she was just a teenager, Lydia Strong discovered her mother's body and was permanently scarred by the gruesome scene she stumbled upon. Now, fifteen years later, Lydia is still haunted by her past. In an effort to deal with her demons, she has become a true crime writer, trying to solve murders with the help of Jeffrey Marks, the (now former) FBI Agent she connected with during her mother's murder investigation. Lydia travels to Angel Fire, New Mexico in an effort to find some peace, but instead finds a new set of grisly crimes to investigate.
I'm a huge fan of Lisa Unger's and thought I had devoured everything she'd written, so I was very confused when I saw Angel Fire. A brand new Lisa Unger series I wasn't even aware of? So I did what I always do in these situations - I asked Twitter about it, and was rewarded with an answer from Lisa herself. These novels were originally written under the name Lisa Miscione, but in recognition of the success Lisa has found as a crime fiction writer, they were being rereleased. Therefore, Angel Fire is actually a rerelease of one of Lisa's very first novels.
Lydia Strong is an interesting character. She can be very frustrating at times; she takes unnecessary risks and often doesn't seem to know her own mind. However, the reader can't help but sympathize with her. It's clear she has never really recovered from the horrible way her mother was murdered, and she has been trying to find some sort of solace ever since. In some ways, writing crime fiction is her therapy, as twisted as it sounds. By solving these crimes and getting into the minds of the killers, Lydia not only gets one more dangerous murderer off the street, but she moves one step closer to understanding the man that killed her own mother.
The relationship between Lydia and Jeffrey is sweet, if a little strange. It's clear they have strong feelings for one another, but Lydia is afraid of moving forward and damaging the only real friendships she has in her life. While the reader wants her to overcome these obstacles and take a chance with him, they are also reminded that she first met him when she was a teenager and he was investigating her mother's murder. While Unger does a good job with the relationship and it's clear that Lydia is an adult, it never lost that slightly wrong sense for me.
The plot takes the reader through vicious twists and turns as Lydia and Jeffrey work to unmask a killer. Unger writes the suspense well, making sure she maintains a tight, ordered plot. I was pleased that, though this wasn't quite as good as any Lisa Unger novel I've read, it didn't disappoint and was reliably entertaining (something that reissues often aren't). Overall, I enjoyed Angel Fire and look forward to reading the next Lydia Strong novel as I eagerly anticipate Lisa Unger's next release.