Charles Davis, Angel's Rest Reviews

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“Angel's Rest ”


written by Harriet Klausner on 31/07/2006

Angel's Rest
Charles Davis
Mira, Sep 2006, $21.95
ISBN: 0778323048

In 1967 eleven-years old Charlie York loves living in aptly named Sunnyside, Virginia near Angel's Rest in the Allegheny Mountains. However, the sunshine turns torrential in a nanosecond when his mom Hadley apparently kills his father John. Though she insists her spouse John accidentally shot himself while cleaning his shotgun, she is arrested for the homicide, her preadolescent son moves in with an elderly black man Lacy Albert Coe, who "worked" for his dad at the TV and radio repair shop instead of her white in-laws who live nearby.

Lacy, known as the "Storyteller", tells his young white charge lyrical tales of the good and the bad in people even as Charlie fears he lied in court when he affirmed his mom's tale under oath though he feels he saw something else. However, law enforcement has found a tie between Hadley's former high school boyfriend crazy Korean Veteran Hollis Thrasher and John that is a strong motive for murder and witnesses claim the former was near the latter's home. At the same time the white folks are fuming and humiliated that Hadley left her white son with a black man; they take out their rage on the octogenarian Storyteller and any other black who is available.

Angel's Rest is a terrific historical mystery and character study that grips the reader as narrator Charlie tells his tale of lost childhood when his mom supposedly killed his dad near where the angels took respites while building the mountain range. The cast is fully developed so that the racial tension of 1967 is vivid with hate crimes being acceptable by pious folks. The mystery of John's death is cleverly tied together with another mystery that reveals plenty about the relationships between the key players. Charles Davis provides a strong tale of growing up overnight as Charlie finds allies in the intrepid, caring and loving Storyteller at a time he needs nurturing.

Harriet Klausner

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