Book covers


Stuart Archer Cohen: The Stone Angels

Orion mass market paperback

Kart., S. 320, Euro 8,49.

The Stone Angels begins in downtown Buenos Aires with the murder of a visiting American novelist. The bullet in the head that kills the American is fired by Police Comissario Miguel Fortunato. The American Government responds by sending sponsored investigator Doctor Athena Fowler. The book becomes immediately interesting because the policeman assigned to help Athena is Miguel. The book proceeds at an entertaining pace as we not only observe the attempts made to conceal the truth but discover the events that led to the murder of the American. A couple of murders, audacious and amoral low life, a few surprises and a decent shoot out at the end make for a satisfying read.

The Stone Angels, though, is more than an entertaining diversion. We know Miguel shot the American as soon as the second page so from the very beginning the book refuses to settle down as a conventional murder mystery. Instead, the author, Stuart Cohen, is more concerned with revealing the responsibility of an inconspicuous and manipulative business establishment and how their limitless ambition and appetite, with the complicity of the brutal, results in the tragedy of the murdered American. It should come as no surprise that Miguel is a sympathetic and believable central character. The tired, disillusioned policeman is something of a cliché in modern detective stories but Miguel is different and a big improvement on the average world weary policeman we find in most thrillers. The American investigator Athena Fowler has plenty of ideals and they are constantly tested. The locale is described well and reading the book is like having a brief, scary holiday in Buenos Aires. The music of the tango is never very far away from the night clubs we visit and the tango provides an effective metaphor for the courageous romanticism and fatalism that is required for Miguel to achieve his salvation from sin.

Howard Jackson