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Angels Fall Reviews

2009 Left Coast Crime Award Nominee Best Law Enforcement Novel
2009 Left Coast Crime Award Nominee Best Law Enforcement Novel

“Baron Birtcher’s Angels Fall is a taut and evocative thriller set in the lost paradise of Hawaii. The plotting is tight, the characters are vivid and there’s a sense of longing and loss that accompanies the action. Birtcher is a fine writer and you will enjoy this book.”

—T. Jefferson Parker
(Edgar Award winning author of The Fallen and Storm Runners)

“Baron Birtcher ruined my whole work day. I kept trying to set Angels Fall down to do my own stuff, but couldn’t stop turning the pages. It’s stylish, fast, soulful and has an indelible—and rare—sense of place. You want to read this book, then you want to live in it.”

—Don Winslow
(Bestselling author of The Winter of Frankie Machine and The Power of the Dog)

“Mr. Birtcher’s hard-boiled ex-cop, Mike Travis, is both likeable and flawed, a credible Travis McGee gone South Pacific native. Welcome to Kona, Hawaii, and Angels Fall, in which Travis sails, surfs and bare-knuckles his way through a thriller that begins with the discovery of archaic bones on his coffee plantation, then rolls like a rogue wave toward a deadly climax.”

—Randy Wayne White
(New York Times Bestselling author of Dark Light and Hunter’s Moon)

“Angels Fall is a beautifully-rendered story of loss, regret, redemption and hope. Baron Birtcher captures all the tenets of noir and makes them his own in this hard-boiled drama set against the lush backdrop of the Hawaiian islands. The saga of tortured cop Mike Travis continues to engage by using the oldest, and hardest, aspects of crime fiction: a good story, well-told. The sure hand of the author, the sweetness of young love and the pathos of familial failures all contribute to the reader’s desire to know more about this compelling cast of characters. A must-read for any true fan of the contemporary mystery.”

—Nichelle Tramble
(Critically acclaimed author of The Last King and The Dying Ground)

“Evocative with a rough-hewn sensibility, Baron R. Birtcher’s Angels Fall, reminds us that beyond the sunshine and palm trees, the past lingers… and is always prelude to a most uncertain, and sometimes fatal, future.”

—Gary Phillips
(Author of Monklology and other stories)

“Take the phone off the hook, turn off the computer. You won’t want to be interrupted on your journey with Birtcher’s haunted and charismatic Mike Travis as he searches for a missing teenager on the Big Island of Hawaii.”

—Deborah Turrell Atkinson
(Author of Fire Prayer and Pleasing the Dead)

“[Birtcher] did a top-notch job at his description and portrayal of Mike Travis. Angels Fall has a great emotional pull that brings the characters down-to-earth and alive. Yet, the story also gave way to the mysterious as you watched the mystery unfold, bringing you to one surprising conclusion. Quite a good mix. Recommended.”

—Midwest Book Review

“Baron R. Birtcher was born to write, and Mike Travis is practically living proof of that. He seems to paint effortlessly a constant surrounding of peace and tranquility… But don’t worry, he paints in plenty of tension, action and suspense, too!”

—In The Library Reviews

“Birtcher’s Hawaii is beautiful and romantic, but like any other paradise, has a serpent lurking amid the palm trees. Mike Travis is a throwback to the likes of Travis McGee, flawed but always human and humane.”

—Jekyll Island [GA] Golden Islander

“If you like your reading hard-boiled, this is a book for you. Ex-cop Mike Travis is likeable and flawed, and you will want to follow whatever adventure he finds himself in. This well-written work is as noir as you can hope for, and as thrilling a read as you could want.”

—Mysterical-E Reviews.com

“The contrast between the dark and sometimes lurid environment in which Mike finds himself and the nearly idyllic image that many people have of the islands is almost surreal and stylishly accomplished.”

—Mysterical-E Reviews.com

“Birtcher has a casual and relaxed writing style that makes his Angels Fall most readable. Using well-placed flashbacks, Mike Travis’ haunted past is slowly revealed and explains why his current case has such a strong effect on him. Travis is a down-to-earth and plausible character, and I hope to see much more of him.”

—AllTheseBooks.com

“Angels Fall is the third novel in the Mike Travis series and another must-have for my library. As I read this book, I could practically hear Travis’ voice. The depth of character that Birtcher provides, together with his subject matter, makes this series a valuable addition to anyone’s library.”

—ChrisChat Reviews

“I’m not sure which I liked better: the descriptions of the lush Hawaiian scenery or the laid-back character of Mike Travis. This is a fun read.”

—SheKnows.com

“Birtcher has done a masterful job of creating characters the reader cares about and a complex plot that definitely holds your attention. I want to read more Mike Travis mysteries!”

—The Dallas Book Diva (Television)

Reviewed by Araminta Matthews

Truly great novels have an undercurrent of culture woven seamlessly within the subtext, the scenery, and the psyches of its characters. Baron R. Birtcher’s mystery, Angels Fall has precisely that. Set against the backdrop of Hawaii, cultural slang, occupations, living accommodations, even teenage circumstances are vividly painted and yet not distracting to the story. What’s more, the author makes not pretenses about Hawaiian culture. The main character, dubbed “Big City” by his native friend, Detective Moon, lived in Los Angeles for a length of time. This separation from the culture brings truth to it as we, the readers, experience the oceanic views, the islands, the burial customs, the cherry-picking jobs, and the language from an unbiased source. It is merely observation, not judgment, that we see, and because of this, Hawaii seems real – even to this native New Englander. I could practically smell the salt in the air. The setting was truly well-played.

In addition to a believable subtext, mystery novels must have tension. It is vital that a reader feels like he or she is always on the cusp of solving a mystery that he or she cares about solving. With the mysterious disappearance of pious, teenaged Ashley Logan, and the resistance with which “Big City”‘s investigation is met, the reader has just that. A slew of suspects. Could it be the rightwing religious parents of the young girl, fed up by their daughter’s disobedience by dating a young boy who is Catholic and not Protestant as she was raised? Could it be the boyfriend, a young and poor Hispanic fellow whose mother thinks has become hopeless about his future? Could it be Pawai, a known drug dealer and all-around bad kind of guy? This suspicion, this tension, is bursting out of Angel Falls. Not only will any reader be swept up in this mystery, but he or she will be very surprised by the end. And we all know how welcome a believable surprise ending to a mystery can be.

Surprises are not the only thing this novel has going for it. The writer, Baron Birtcher, is well-equipped at delivering prose that is sharp, tactful, illuminating, and plain. Birtcher is skilled at the understatement, understanding that writing is about showing and not telling a reader what is happening. Birtcher does just this, allowing the reader to make his or her own decisions about the context of a situation, the pretense of a character, or the imagery of a scene. The dialogue is believable and each character’s voice is distinguishable against the rest of the story. And the behind-the-scenes history of Mike Travis, a.k.a. “Big City”, is fulfilling and necessary to the story.

This is an all-around great mystery novel for anyone who likes who-dunits, as well as for anyone interested in traveling to Hawaii.