Angels Burning opens with a murder. A teenage girl's body is found in a sinkhole of an abandoned coal town (eerily similar to the real-life Centralia, a town infamous for its underground mine fire). Chief Dove Carnahan, who hides family secrets of her own, takes on the investigation.
What follows is more than just a murder mystery. Yes, much of the plot revolves around Dove seeking to find who committed the murder. Readers of mysteries, however, may be a bit disappointed as the plot and subplots veer off into many different directions so that the book is more than just a whodunnit story. Instead, readers will be treated with an exploration of character development and physical setting. Some readers may think that O'Dell approaches her characters with only stereotypes in mind, but I found that she navigates the back roads and people of Pennsylvania with a refreshing eye, pointing out the grit, stubbornness, and yes, sometimes violence that harbors in the northern Appalachia landscape.
For more information about this book and her other works, visit Tawni O'Dell's website.