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Shadow of the Dark Angel / Gene O'Neill

Bad Moon Books / June 2009
Reviewed by: Derek Clendening

Very seldom can an author successfully pen a dark mystery novel while showing so many of his cards yet leaving a great deal to the imagination. But that’s exactly Gene O’Neill’s style in Shadow of the Dark Angel. We are granted an inside glimpse of a killer’s life that reveals what makes him tick — but without the trickery or childhood regression that other dark scribe’s have used to justify their killers’ motives. Our killer certainly has his share of quirks, and O’Neill has molded something much different than a Hannibal Lecter carbon copy.

Returning to the idea of O’Neill showing us his cards, this novel isn’t the same as your basic whodunit mystery. Shadow is more of a why-dunit. Yes, we have our investigator – or investigating duo to be precise – but O’Neill doesn’t force the reader to wait until the end of the novel for the killer’s reveal. Since the reader already knows who the killer is, they are left to try and make sense of his motives.

Indeed, this killer’s motives are different from those of other literary slayers because he is influenced by inhuman forces. How the killer is presented is also unique. O’Neill uses a literary technique that is relatively uncommon to the horror genre; namely, a variation in point of view throughout the novel. In scenes that concern our killer, he writes from a second person point of view that seems to address the killer, which might lead to speculation that the narrator is actually the killer’s conscience. The narrator could be giving him direction. The killer seems unable to think on his own and uses the narrator as a crutch.
Given Bad Moon Books’ track record for quality from both the literary and production side of the business, one can expect that this reissue will be something to be excited about. Shadow of the Dark Angel was originally published by Prime Books in 2003 but is being re-released now that O’Neill has seen somewhat of a resurgence in his popularity. A Bram Stoker Award finalist for his novella The Confessions of St. Zach, O’Neill again proves himself to be a talent who should have stepped into the limelight long ago.

Purchase Shadow of the Dark Angel by Gene O’Neill.

Posted on Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 10:38AM by Registered CommenterDark Scribe Magazine in | Comments Off

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