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Falling Angel [Paperback]

William Hjortsberg , Ridley Scott , James Crumley
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov. 1 2006

"A terrific book-what might have happened if Raymond Chandler had written The Exorcist."-Stephen King

"Falling Angel combines the best of the classic detective story . . . with elements of the occult with surprising humor and wit. . . . This is the literary love-child of Raymond Chandler and Stephen King. . . . Not for the faint-of-heart."-from the foreword by Ridley Scott

Falling Angel pits a tough New York private eye against any detective's most fearsome adversary. A routine missing-persons case soon turns into a fiendish nightmare in which the shadow detective Harry Angel chases seems to be his own.

Product Details

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Originally published in 1978, Hjortsberg's debut mystery was the basis for the film Angel Heart.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.


"Terrific...One of a kind...I've never read anything remotely like it." --Stephen King

"A near-perfect book...Not since Psycho changed the bathing habits of thousands has a novelist so completely turned preconceptions inside out." --Los Angeles Times

"A compelling, page-turning story in the best private-eye tradition, with brilliantly nightmarish scenes of black magic and voodoo." --Washington Post

"A tight, suspenseful story...Not for the timid." --Miami Herald
--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I saw the movie first but I still loved the novel Sept. 20 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is a hard book to review without giving too much away. Like many people I saw the film "Angel Heart" first and then read the book, so I knew the ending. But nonetheless I loved this book and in fact I could hardly put it down. I'd get home from work and the first thing on my mind was getting back to "Falling Angel."
If it were not for its macabre and graphic content this book might make excellent classroom reading for high school students, as it makes use of many bread-and-butter literary elements such as foreshadowing and dramatic irony, and it has some echoes of Greek tragedy and certain Elizabethan plays. At the same time it is a fast, easy read. The chapters are short, and each one advances the plot or our understanding of the characters with an efficiency that would make any creative writing teacher proud. Whether you call it horror, detective fiction, or a psychological thriller, this is a great read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing thriller Nov. 14 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Detective stories are a mine field. Given the amazing numbers of this kind of books, every now and then you surely are going to step in a bomb and regret the time and money you spent in some terrible story. Fortunately, this is not the case in "Falling Angel".
Harry Angel is a private detective in the New York in the end of the fifties, hired by a misterious character to find a very famous crooner who disppeared in the middle of the WW2. During his investigation, he discovers some terrifying truths, envolving voodoo worship, satanism, black massess, and yet Johnny Favorite, the crooner, is nowhere to be found. In the end, the truth is really amazing, and Harry could never escape it.
For those who saw "Angel heart" before reading this book, I must say the surprise was completely lost. However, Hjortsberg is a fine and talented writer, the book is told in the fast-paced rhythm of New York, and the sucession of scenes is very well programed and easy to follow, and fast to read as well. This is a classic detective story, with lots of sarcasm, murders, twists, and something that you don't find in every down-to-earth detective book: supernatural elements. As strange as it seems, it doesn't spoil the story, in fact these supernaturals combine to enhance the thrilling of the plot. The final two or three chapters are amazing, and the ending is surprising and powerful.
Grade 9.5/10
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
At one point in William Hjortsberg's masterful horror novel, Epiphany Proudfoot, 17-year-old voodoo priestess, tells our detective hero Harry Angel "you sure know a lot about the city." The city in question is the New York of 1959, and if Angel knows a lot about this crazy burg, then Hjortsberg, in the course of this tale, demonstrates that he knows even more. While much has been said of this book's scary elements--its voodoo ceremonies and Black Mass meeting and horrible murders--what impressed me most about this tale is the incredible attention to realistic detail that the author invests it with. I don't know if the author grew up in this town in the '50s or just did a remarkable research job, but the reader really does get the impression that this book (which came out in 1978) was written a few decades earlier. Roosevelt Island is called Welfare Island, quite correctly; street names are given the names they had 45 years ago; subway ads are described that I can dimly recall from my youth at the time; one-cent peanut-vending machines are in the subways (boy, does that bring me back!); and on and on. This is the type of book in which if something is described, you can bet your bottom buck that it really existed. For example, at one point our hero walks into a 42nd St. theatre called Hubert's Museum and Flea Circus. I checked it out; it was really there in the late '50s! You can really learn a lot about the city as it was by reading this fast-moving tale; it's almost like a history lesson wrapped up in a hardboiled voodoo thriller.
And what a thriller this is! Even without the incredible attention to detail, this book would be a winner. In it, Harry Angel is hired by Lou Cyphre (get it?
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4.0 out of 5 stars Worth Your Time, Movie or Not Dec 4 2001
By Sara
Format:Mass Market Paperback
After watching the movie _Angel Heart_ a couple of times, I thought reading the book it was based on would be enjoyable. For the most part, it was.
The plot is not the norm and if you have already seen the film, you're one step ahead. Harry Angel, a private investigator in 1950s New York, is hired by Louis Cyphre. Cyphre is odd to say the least but he pays well and only asks that Angel track down Johnny Favorite. Favorite was a singer several years earlier but it seemed that at some point after he returned from the war, he disappeared. As Angel goes looking, he discovers that Favorite was not just an eccentric, but a man well versed in all things related to the occult. Contrary to the film's portrayal, Angel does not leave New York to find people in New Orleans. He finds plenty of trouble on his own territory and has a number of close-calls throughout the novel.
In terms of whether the story fits into the genre of mystery, horror or both, I am not sure. I would call both the book and the movie 'noir' if I had to label them because they are forms of the classic gritty PI in a seamy underworld scenario. The writing does seem dry, tired and even inconsistent in some places but overall it will probably hold your interest. Personally, I finished it in two days (even while frantically preparing for finals) because I was interested to see how closely the movie followed the book. But even if you haven't seen the movie and have no interest to, the book is worth your time.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Ranks up there with Blatty's Exorcist and Levine's Rosemary's Baby
Falling Angel was originally published in 1978. So why review it here and now? For one thing, it's an excellent novel that blends noire-style mystery with Exorcist-level horror. Read more
Published on Sept. 26 2011 by Andre Farant
5.0 out of 5 stars not for publication
Please please remove Jack Felson's review of Falling Angel from your site. It gives away the ending! (And it has no merit as a review.)
Published on Jan. 29 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars No wings for this angel... - a vertiginous book
After some short science-fiction texts (like "Gray Matters"), William Hjortsberg kept some after effects from them because he put some elements in his first detective attempt. Read more
Published on Oct. 15 2003 by Jack Felson
5.0 out of 5 stars This is one gritty detective story!
While you read this, take what you know about the late fifties in New York City, and compare it here. This story immerses the reader superbly into the atmosphere of the setting. Read more
Published on Feb. 16 2003 by R. E. Mattey
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, credible PI noir fiction
This novel is always found in the Horror section but it is really a private eye mystery. It's as good a PI novel as I have ever read and I highly recomend it. Read more
Published on Oct. 10 2002 by Marc Clapp
1.0 out of 5 stars read 20 pages and put it down
stephen king read it
i couldnt
Published on Oct. 12 2001 by William D. Tompkins
5.0 out of 5 stars Great combination of mystery and horror
Set in late 1950's New York City, FALLING ANGEL is the story about a private detective named Harry Angel who is recruited by mysterious client Louis Cyphre to find a long lost... Read more
Published on Aug. 31 2001 by Church of The Flaming Sword
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Enjoyable Read
I have to say most of the comments by the reviewers here are true! It's a powerful book. The fast pace of the book keeps readers turning the pages, until at the end they all... Read more
Published on Aug. 23 2001 by xyz
5.0 out of 5 stars A Horror Masterpiece, A Necessary Read
Falling Angel is one of the best Horror novels I have ever read, so fast paced I'm amazed there aren't scorch marks on the pages of my copy. Read more
Published on March 11 2001 by Ryan Costantino
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