14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 31 March 2006
Generally I give them I wide berth because they are usually derivative nonsense. However, there's enough conspiracy theory stuff in this and the earlier books to make them interesting and the serial killer is just part of the plot, not *the plot*. All three novels make heavy use of converging plotlines which may not be to all tastes, but I like them and these hang together quite nicely. The dialogue is sharp, and over the three books the characters are developed quite well. I didn't much like the pages of pontifcation the various main characters have on the meaning of life the universe and everything, but they're not too heavy and relatively short.
Personally, I think the criticism levelled by other reviewers is misguided. The characters and plot have been carefully developed and for me at least the various threads are sufficiently resolved even if they're not as tidy as some might like, and it's done without blocking off the possibility of more 'Straw Men' novels.
Don't read this book unless you've read the other two as there's a lot of backstory that will make this one a more enjoyable read, and although MM tries to fill in the essential details you're going to lose a lot if you start here.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
So sadly I come to the finale of "The Straw Men" trilogy - Blood of Angels. Now I'm feeling vaguely bereft again. I have absolutely loved my re-read of this set of books and I'm sad that I am done. I can't start again right away can I? No perhaps not. But I'm sure this will not be the last time I read them.
This part of the tale finds Ward and Nina hiding out in a remote cabin and trying to leave the world behind them. John is nowhere, unable to contact him they reluctantly decide that their friendship is over. Then Nina's boss at the FBI, Monroe, brings news of two murders..and everything changes. Dragged back into the horror, Nina finds herself haunted by ghosts from the past - and Ward is suspicious of the reasoning behind Monroe's request for Nina's assistance. Trying once more to contact John, he starts to untangle this latest mystery...
The Straw Men mythology deepens in this book - intriguing and well imagined it makes you wonder what exactly might be lurking behind closed doors.....hey how well do you REALLY know your neighbours, friends, confidantes. Many tangled webs weave themselves into the ultimate showdown..and its a corker of an ending trust me. But is it the end? I truly hope not.
The story taken as a whole, over the entirety of the three books is extremely well done. And yes there is room for more to happen in this world..I really need to know about a lot of things. Are you listening Mr Marshall? Having built up this whole mythology around Serial Killing do you know I would not be at all surprised if at least one recent tv show that will remain nameless ( Hint: Kevin Bacon gets in on EVERYTHING) has at least one writer that has read these particular books. The story may be different but the ambience is the same. So still, after this go round, this remains in my top 3 trilogies of all time. If you want to know what the other two are watch this space.
Next on my list for my re-read for the Michael Marshall section of my website is "Killer Moves" - a book I remember kept me on the edge of my seat the first time around - and it didnt even need an Upright Man to do so.
Happy Reading Folks!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 April 2010
This novel, the third in 'The Straw Men' trilogy, see's the pace pick back up after the incredibly suspenseful and action packed excitement of the eponymous title of the first Straw Men novel, followed by the insightful lull of 'The Lonely Dead', to reach this climatic end of the trilogy - or do we??? There is the big build-up to a massive sonic boom ending - but is it the end? Do we really know anything for sure? There are no bodies after all! LoL!
Love it. MMS - You're a tease! Just when you think it's all figured out he throws in the ambiguity spanner - conspiracy theorists friend. The protagonists may be down - but are they out? We may never know! Is there another book with this story as a back-drop in the offing I wonder? Here's hoping for an off-shoot (this one is the end of a trilogy after all).
If you love multi-layered plots, complex characterisation (I loved the twist of John Zandt in the 2nd and 3rd books - I really empathised with him in the first novel and lost this dfrip by drip as he becomes tainted. The Nietzean philosophy about those who observe monsters come true) and authors that play with your mind in the form of multiple and layered manipulative device mechanisms whilst telling you a great yearn (or many in this case!), then this is for you. Some of the other reviewers seem set to make this a conspiracy thriller - but that is just one component of many in this wonderful multi-genre, multi-layered novel. It's part; psychological thriller, crime thriller,espionage thriller, action novel, conspiracy thriller, biological thriller, horror, and has political/Corporate corruption, romance and humour all thrown into the mix (and that's before we even mention the serial killer aspect! LoL!) for good measure. This trilogy will just blow your socks off (Especially if The Straw Men have anything to do with it!) - Forget Dan Brown,this is much more satisfying.
If you like any of the above genres I mentioned, then you will love this trilogy. I do suggest reading them in succession to get the full impact of the story without missing anything. A brilliantly original, thrilling, well written and an easy but intelligent read that will have something (well, many somethings I would think) to appeal to most readers. You won't be disappointed!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 21 October 2009
I had read 'The Straw Men' some time ago, eagerly followed by 'The Lonely Dead'- the two prequels to this story by the same author. As I waited for 'Blood of Angels' to arrive I eagerly dug out the prequels to re-read to get in the zone for the latest installment. Alas, I had leant Strawmen to a friend, who leant it to a friend, who leant it to a friend etc....yes, these books are that good, you will re-read them, and they will keep them! So hold on to them! Luckily I still had Lonely Dead to whet my appetite and refresh my memory to the murky underworld of the Strawmen.
Blood of Angels doesn't disapoint with Michael Marshall being consistent in writing style and tone familiar with the prequels. He has well structured plots and sub-plots developing at just the right pace, so that you find yourself hopelessly engrossed, relishing early nights in bed reading, ignoring the wife and chores whilst the dog suffers from lack of exercise.
There's no chance of me revealing the plot here, that would be sacrilege. Safe to say the series has been probably my favourite as a keen thriller fiction reader. I would recommend you start with 'The Straw Men', then 'The Lonely Dead', then followed by this book. If you don't want to fork out for three books without trusting they're going to be good, I would recommend reading 'The Intruders' by the same author. It's a complete book with no prequels or sequels, but will leave you wanting more nonetheless. Incredible.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 4 January 2006
Previously, Michael Marshall was a sci-fi/horror writer, who has taken a brave step of switching genres with 'The Straw Men' Trilogy (of which Blood of Angels is the third) which is a straight out and out thriller.
Whilst Michael's writing is as good as ever, I can't help but feel that he struggled writing this third book; whilst the plot builds up nicely with interesting twists at the end of each chapter the ending simply falls flat and is horribly open-ended without providing much in the way of resolution. In my mind it's a 'answers provided in the next novel' type story and that's where the problem lies.
Writing as Michael Marshall Smith his stories (the fantastic Spares, the sublime One of Us and a brilliant short story collection) are wonderfully inventive and written with style and verve. With book three of The Straw Men Trilogy everything feels diluted and washed out, as though Michael wasn't sure what to do with it. The characters are nowhere near as strong as previous novels and have, in my mind, struggled to develop over the three books.
Despite that it is a good read, and as an English author I feel we should be supporting our guys.
Look forward to the next one, which I've heard will be a horror. Can't wait!
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 11 July 2005
As a previous reviewer commented "if only Michael Marshall could produce a book a month....". I couldn't articulate it any better myself!
This book is everything the Lonely Dead should have been. The multiple stories that ultimately collide are brilliantly written and keep the reader engaged throughout. The secret of this book's success is that you care about what is happening. Whilst I enjoyed the Lonely Dead, the second story within it did not captivate me, hence I lost interest and focused upon the main thread - that of the trio's search for The Upright Man. Blood of Angels makes you want the best for the newly-introduced characters - although you always have a feeling that they will ultimately end up victims within the tangled web that surround the society known as the Straw Men.
Perhaps this is the attraction of Marshall's books. He is not afraid to introduce you to a character, develop their personality, pshyche etc then kill them off. A criticism often levelled at other writers is their characters become stale, predicatable even. Marshall has yet to be accused of this.
My only criticism of the book is its reliance upon previous knowledge of the other two books - The Straw Men and The Lonely Dead. Whilst it is not a bad thing to have read them, not everyone purchases books in the order they were written.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 29 June 2005
If only Michael Marshall (Smith) could knock out a book every month or so...
Once I start reading one of his books, I can't seem to stop reading, and then it's all over before I know it, leaving me totally satisfied yet itching for more. I hope he's happy that he's turned me into an addict.
Blood of Angels is a cracking conclusion to the trilogy, leaving the door ajar at the end for a possible revisiting of the plot in future books. There are four main threads to the story involving all of the usual characters plus some very well characterised newbies. The multiple points of view ensure that the book as a whole is a real page-turner as you try and figure out which are the most important and how they are all going to connect at the end - and they do, perfectly.
The book is more like The Straw Men than The Lonely Dead in pace and tone - the action taking more of a centre stage than the conspirational theory behind it. All three of the books together have really wowed me to the point where after years of saying how I'd like to see a return to Michael Marshall Smith sci-fi for the next book, I'm now not at all sure that I want him to depart from this modern-day crime thriller genre. Whatever he happens to write next, I am pretty positive that it won't disappoint me.
on 20 May 2010
First and foremost this is NOT a stand alone novel. It is the last in the Straw Men series and i strongly recommend to read it only if you have already read the first two. Myself, i had read them in order but a few years back and i feel that i lost a bit since i didnt remember everything from the previous two. It is maybe the only weakness of this novel, that it relies heavily on the assumption that everyone must have went through the series in chronological order.
In this last Straw Men book, the infamous Upright Man manages to escape from prison(this is not a spoiler, it s in the cover of the book). And the hunt resumes again from the same characters known to us in the first two novels. But little do they know that the Straw Men have something big planned and that they would not be going out without a very big bang. Some new characters are introduced although i felt they didnt contribute to much in the end, especially Lee whom i thought would have a much more vital role. However this is another great thriller, not your classic serial killer book and i look forward to read this author s more recent stand alone ones.
on 18 July 2010
First, unless you've read the previous two books, don't start here. This is the one that wraps everything up, which is the single strongest reason for reading it; otherwise, it's fairly mediocre. Don't get me wrong, it is still beautifully written (there's a slyness to the prose which, even though the series' is about very American themes of violence and the serial killer as folk myth, is distinctly British... and it works) but the story is clunky. There's an entire sub-plot which seems pointless and the way the full workings of the conspiracy is revealed is via an info-dump, which have a nasty habit of breaking a story's pace. Also, considering how awe inspiring the idea of the conspiracy is, what it does in the end... isn't terribly spectacular. Having just typed that, I am now amazed at how blasé it is, even with a fictional terrorist attack, to describe mass slaughter that way. Wow, how desensitised have we gotten? To sum up; if you've read the last two, you'll want to read this, but be prepared for a certain level of disappointment.
It's taken me far too long to get around to reading this book. I'm a big fan of Michael Marshall Smith, and the first two of this trilogy were good enough to warrant me jumping straight in to this one. However, it took me nearly four years.
Not to worry though, there's always a recap chapter, right? No. Nothing. Just straight in to the story. Such is the quality of writing here though, that a recap really wasn't necessary. It took a small amount of time to remember who people where and where people were, but not too long.
The story follows on nicely from the end of the last book (The Lonely Dead), and doesn't let up. We see some new faces alongside the old, and the plot races along at a pace good enough to keep you interested.
If you've read the other two in The Straw Men series, then you should read this - it finishes the trilogy nicely, and is a worthy addition. If you've not read the others, go here: The Straw Men first.
As with all MMS books, well recommended.