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Falling Angel (No Exit Press 18 Years…

Falling Angel (No Exit Press 18 Years Classic) (original 1978; edition 2005)

by William Hjortsberg

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6132126,686 (3.87)44
Edgar Award Finalist: The hunt for a vanished singer leads a detective into the depths of the occult in this "terrific" novel (Stephen King).   Big-band frontman Johnny Favorite was singing for the troops when a Luftwaffe fighter squadron strafed the bandstand, killing the crowd and leaving the singer near death. The army returned him to a private hospital in upstate New York, leaving him to live out his days as a vegetable while the world forgot him. But Louis Cyphre never forgets.   Cyphre had a contract with the singer, stipulating payment upon Johnny's death--payment that will be denied as long as Johnny clings to life. When Cyphre hires private investigator Harry Angel to find Johnny at the hospital, Angel learns that the singer has disappeared. It is no ordinary missing-person's case. Everyone he questions dies soon after, as Angel's investigation ensnares him in a bizarre tangle of black magic, carnival freaks, and grisly voodoo. When the sinister Louis Cyphre begins appearing in Angel's dreams, the detective fears for his life, his sanity, and his soul. Falling Angel was the basis for the Alan Parker film Angel Heart, starring Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro, and Lisa Bonet.   This ebook features an illustrated biography of William Hjortsberg including rare photos from the author's personal collection.… (more)
Title:Falling Angel (No Exit Press 18 Years Classic)
Authors:William Hjortsberg
Info:No Exit Press (2005), Edition: 18th Birthday Ed, Paperback, 302 pages
Collections:Your library

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Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg (1978)

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» See also 44 mentions

English (20)  Spanish (1)  All languages (21)
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
rightfully a classic. ( )
  ThomasPluck | Apr 27, 2020 |
4.5 stars!

There are two reasons I bought this book. 1. I bought it at my favorite brick and mortar bookstore, Bunch of Grapes(http://bunchofgrapes.com/), because I wanted to contribute in some small way to their beautiful store. 2. Because my friend Marc has been hounding me to read it for a couple of years now. He was right, and I now wish I had read this book sooner.

This is a crime-noir novel, written in the 70's but actually taking place in the early 50's. As such, there are some racist comments and remarks, as well as some slang with which I was unfamiliar. For instance, did you know that shamus was slang for private detective? Yeah, I didn't either. What puts this novel in the dark fiction category was the voodoo and Satanic worship which both play a role in the plot.

Speaking of which, the plot was excellent. It got a little complicated, but I never lost my way. The story was also peppered with a bit of dry humor, which I always enjoy.

Going into the last chapters, I have to say I was a bit disappointed. I've been told so much about this book, I guess I was feeling a bit let down. Then...

...the ending of this story blew me away.

Highly recommended for fans of crime-noir and dark fiction! ( )
  Charrlygirl | Mar 22, 2020 |
For some reason I had the impression that Falling Angel would prove to be a relatively light hearted noir fantasy. Set in 1959 New York, it's the story of a hard boiled detective named Harry Angel, who is hired to find a singer who may or may not be dead. Johnny Favorite made a name for himself before the war, but was drafted and badly injured, and from there pretty much disappeared from view. A former mentor wants to know if he's alive or dead because, as he explains to Angel, Johnny owes him something.

At this point, I pretty much figured I knew what that something was, and realized that the story was taking a somewhat darker turn than I'd imagined it would. If Angel isn't always the good guy, he's never really much worse than morally gray, or at least that's how it seems. We're on his side even if we don't always like what he's doing (or not doing in a few cases.) We follow him through New York's music scene as he interviews the musicians who worked with Favorite years earlier, and learn that nobody liked the guy very much, seemingly for good reason. From there, Angel finds his way into a group of Voodoo practitioners, and finally into a black mass.

People Angel talks to die, in some cases horribly, and the police think he's involved. The man he's working for seems to be all tangled up with the magical community in the city. He falls in love with a young woman with ties to Favorite, and yes, he does ultimately find out what happened to the singer. It took me a while to process what was going on, though when I did I felt a sense of horrified pleasure that I'd been utterly fooled about the direction in which the story was headed.

Bottom line? I got a kick out of the story. It's a page-turner, it's unexpected, it made my skin crawl. How can you ask for better? ( )
1 vote Tracy_Rowan | Jun 7, 2018 |
A deal with the devil. A missing person. A hardboiled detective. A touch of Voodoo and New York as the backdrop. This was a fun-fast read and would recommend to anyone looking for a hard boiled crime/mystery novel. ( )
1 vote FrancisNolan | Dec 8, 2017 |
Hjortsberg has given us readers a great gift with this book. It is a nineteen fifties style hardboiled detective novel with elements of mysticism, madness, voodoo, and black magic thrown in. It is an evenly paced novel that really takes off in the second half. It sort of combines themes from hardboiled pulp fiction with seventies-era horror movies. It takes the reader back to post world war two in a land of jazz and women and seedy haunts on Broadway and takes the reader through the funhouse carnival that was Coney Island. Hired by Louis Cipher (a thinly disguised client), Harry Angel must find a jazz musician that disappeared fifteen years ago when everyone thought he was either dead or ensconced in a mental hospital upstate. but to find him, Angel has to wade through all sorts of seedy characters who want nothing to do with him and to fall for a girl who dabbles in white magic. But, that is nothing compared to the world of horror that he finds once Angel digs deeper.

Although this was made into a hit movie starring Mickey Rourke and Lisa Bonet, the novel itself is well worth reading because it opens up a world of dreams and madness as Angel slowly but surely peels away the layers of mystery surrounding the jazz player's disappearance.

If you have read other books by Hjortsberg such as Mañana, don't open this with any preconceived expectations. It is not anything like Hjortsberg's other work.

Smoky, jazzy, hip, dark, strange, unearthly, and just plain good reading.
( )
  DaveWilde | Sep 22, 2017 |
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» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
William Hjortsbergprimary authorall editionscalculated
Crumley, JamesIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Alas, how terrible is wisdom when it brings no profit to the man that's wise.
Oedipus the King.
For Bruce, Jada, Ellen, and Nick,
            ''Boys and girls together...
              On the sidewalks of New York.''
And for Bob,
              Who tripped the light fantastic.
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It was Friday the thirteenth and yesterday's snowstorm lingered in the streets like a leftover curse.
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