Written By: Trevor O. Munson
Angel of Vengeance is the novel that inspired the TV show, Moonlight, which has been unpublished until now. I have not seen the show, but just based on how the author talks about the two, it seems that the novel is the grittier, more uncompromised version of the story. It makes sense since this is the original. Things were romanticized a bit more for the television audience. With Angel of Vengeance we are given a vampire hard boiled noir tale of addiction, seduction, and deceptions, just to name a few of the compelling components that keeps this story going at a fast pace and keeps you interested every step of the way.
Mick Angel is a jaded vampire private detective. He certainly doesn’t live by conventional rules. He has adopted a brand of justice that he lives by. Mick doesn’t hurt women or children and doesn’t kill anyone unless they truly deserve it. He is a vampire and has to get by somehow, so as he sees it, those who deserve to die might as well also be his blood supply. When he was turned, Mick was terrified of the monster that he became. To keep his demons at bay, he lives by his code; in that way he’s kind of the Dexter Morgan of vampires.
Mick is approached by a burlesque dancer by the name of Reesa Van Der Cleef. She immediately catches his eye. Her vibrant, fiery red hair, classy and confident persona, and her straight forward attitude, speak to him. It’s beyond an attraction; he feels he was never truly been in love before now. Mick knows that no good can come of this; that he will just end up hurting her. Still, he is completely consumed by her.
Mick agrees to help Reesa. Her 14-year old sister went missing and the cops have dismissed it as just another runaway. Reesa is desperate to find her so Mick gets to work on the case. Mick has to get through a big shot Hollywood producer, a bitchy stripper, and a hot headed drug dealer before he can sort through all of the lies and get to the truth. By the time he does though he might be too far in not to face a fate similar to Reesa’s sister.
Intertwined between the modern day story is the origins of Mick’s vampirism. This heavily revolves around the one who turned him, his lover; the ever so beautiful, yet conniving, Coraline. From the first night he met her she was trouble; he was just too infatuated with her to realize it. This part of the story is set in the 1940’s, a time which came to define Mick. This makes the hard boiled noir style all the more fitting. Mick is faced with a crippling heroin addiction as well as a perhaps even more crippling addiction to Coraline. As time goes on she becomes set on getting whatever she desires, whether that be money, drugs, or revenge. Betrayal is just a part of the game to her.
Coraline is the perfect femme fatal. She’s seductive, convincing, but completely out for herself in the end. She’s not just a “bad guy” though, she’s a fully realized character with good and bad; the bad just happens to prevail over the good. For the most part we see her through Mick’s eyes. I enjoyed the differentiation the storyline gave the reader through these moments, it made us understand Mick better and why he has become the way he is. It ends up playing extreme importance of the current story as well although it doesn’t seem that way at first.
The ending is really what leaves the reader with a lasting impact. It ends with quite a bang, revealing the hidden truth amongst all of the lies, trickery, and elaborate rouses that Mick has been fed. It’s very clever and near impossible to predict. The ending wraps up all of the themes of the book perfectly, exposing a darkness that exits both in humans and vampires.
Angel of Vengeance is a terrific blending of genres, bringing the gritty style and themes of hard boiled novels to the vampire film, the two making something more morbid, vengeful, and cynical. It’s far darker than Moonlight, but if you ask me this is a step in the right direction. There are no apologies for what Mick is, he’s a ruthless killer. There is a method to the madness though, for others sometimes you have to question their motives. They all seem to be very selfish, not caring who is hurt because of them, giving us a thrilling questioning of just how flawed humanity is. Of course, most vampires are just as guilty. At least they’re supposed to be monsters though.