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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Countless Shades of Grey, 26 July 2014
I first read this book on its initial release, many moons ago. Back then Gallagher was marching into territory few others were barely aware of. Already he’d established himself as a writer prepared to plow his own furrow. With books like THE BOAT HOUSE and RAIN and DOWN RIVER he’d eschewed the trappings of conventional horror novels (he’d been marketed to good effect as a chiller writer in those days) and was striding far ahead of the stuff other writers were producing, going into what was a no-man’s land where horror, crime and stirrings of the supernatural existed one on top of the other.

Although the books were no strangers to the best-seller lists, they were so far ahead of the game that it took well over a decade for other writers to cotton on to what he was doing and try it for themselves. Nowadays the psych-thriller is an established fixture on the bestseller list, with the work of Mo Hayder, John Connolly, Tana French, and the rest. When Gallagher was doing it (his books appeared round about the same time Thomas Harris was bringing out SILENCE OF THE LAMBS), there was hardly anything like it on the shelves.

NIGHTMARE, WITH ANGEL is Gallagher’s longest and most ambitious book. If conventional thrillers throw in an arch baddy wearing a black hat and a goody wearing a white hat to thwart him, Gallagher is having none of that. Motives don’t come in a cap-size, and Gallagher is wise enough to know that. Even the 10-year-old lead, Marianne (Queen of the Beach), torn apart and lost, displays shifting motives in the book and proves an adept manipulator of the world and those around her. Our hero is Ryan O’Donnell, a man too scared to chase his own redemption, the last to forgive himself for a crime he committed when he was young. Even the detective involved in bringing a crime to light is as motivated by her own ambitions and climbing the promotional ladder as she is rescuing a girl in danger.

If the leads are shaded in grey, then so too are the locations: Gallagher has always excelled in producing the bleak setting to reflect his characters’ inner lives. Here we’ve the long, grey bay of Marianne’s childhood and the flotsam of a drifter’s life, and there’s the darkness of Germany’s shadier back streets, to the hellish maze and darkness come the finale.

What could otherwise appear to be a chase/quest story twists around itself, as characters motivations’ change, personal histories are revealed, and revelations skew the direction things have been headed in; all that was clear and simple becomes cloudy and ambiguous. And yet the ending feels like a truly redemptive moment, however bleak it may appear, with a return to a sort of innocence after a journey that does all it pretty much can to rip that innocence to shreds. It’s superior stuff, and no wonder that the book landed Gallagher the accolade from the Independent as being the UK’s finest popular novelist since le Carré.

It’s a real testament to Gallagher’s writing that NIGHTMARE, WITH ANGEL is as fresh to read today as it was when it was first published, back in the early 1990s. Mobile phones are fleetingly referred to, and computers plugged into modems, but otherwise the book could have been produced yesterday and hardly have anyone blink at any incongruities with the modern world. It’s as readable now as it was back then, as gripping and as considered, and a work by a writer at the height of his powers.

Unhesitatingly recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling Euro-Thriller, 7 Mar 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Nightmare, with Angel (Paperback)
This isn't normally the type of genre I read, but right from the beginning I was compelled to read on.
Gallagher paints perfectly the suffocating, dark and simply boring lifestyle of a little motherless girl who's father is a workaholic. She becomes obsessed with a mysterious hermit with a hidden past who saves her from a near drowning experience.
This obsession and her aliennation from her father leads her into Europe and Germany and into a more seedier and darker reality. Who exactly is her mother and why are the CI5 so intent on catching up with this hermit.
A very enjoyable story which takes a similar idea (a road story with 2 strangers getting to know each other) and gives it a much more darker undertone.
Read It.Enjoy It.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars tough but rewarding, 3 April 2014
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I recently re-read this book and found the content as disturbing as the first time. It's a great character study, dealing with a disturbing seedy underworld beneath a veneer of respectability.
It wears it's euro-thriller clearly on its sleeve, with Gallagher's usual sharp sense of place - well researched as usual.
Another winner for me - but then I'm biased as I have enjoyed everything he's written!
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Nightmare, with Angel
Nightmare, with Angel by Steve Gallagher (Paperback - 16 Sep 1993)
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