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Defending Angels Mass Market Paperback – Dec 2 2008

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley (Dec 2 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425224988
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425224984
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 2.2 x 17.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,020,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
If the same person authors a different subject, can the reading experience be a new ball of wax? I'm relieved to find it can. Mary Stanton attracted me with such an original premise and cast of characters, I collected a few non-paranormal stories too. I tried `Claudia Bishop's' `Hemlock Falls' first since it's older, featuring a chef. Bickering sisters were a turn-off and frequent use of expressions I detest like `God damn'. I pushed to the end, apprehensive of the Mary Stanton volumes I'd already gathered. Perhaps her writing improved. Maybe I had sampled a poor novel.

The sisters in "Defending Angels" have similar, irritating dynamics like saying "shut up" in their thirties and the author seems to have a bad habit with vocabulary words that make me wince. However I'm impressed that the writing and story construction are superior after all and a very unusual atmosphere keeps interest peaked. Everyone around Bree is a question mark and you are eager to learn what's going on. A lawyer inherits her Great-Uncle's office suite, where a fire killed the Judge in Savannah, USA. Until it's repaired, she accepts a lowball manor house at walking-distance from her summer house.

Before there's time to ponder clients' reactions to a graveyard outside the manor, Bree notices her professor and new legal assistants have a bizarre connection. There are references to an angel dimension, with a set of legal tomes about spiritual court proceedings that are unheard of. A real estate magnate's partner retains Bree to prove he was murdered. Meanwhile, her odd entourage insinuates that she is being groomed to represent the deceased himself, in an unknown `celestial court' she has no cause to believe in. I don't mind already having these sequels and gladly stay aboard to uncover more of these inner-dimensional secrets.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Defending Angels, does not instantly engage. Mary Stanton had a complicated story line which needed a lengthy introduction and took a few chapters to launch. Bree,a young lawyer,and beloved daughter of a respected,affluent Southern family,inherits the Savannah, Georgia law practice of her elderly uncle who has recently died a rather unpleasant death.
She relocates to Savannah and rents the bottom of an old house in the middle of a cemetery filled with the graves of condemned criminals. With limited funds of her own she puts together her law office including hiring a paralegal and a secretary. She begins to suspect both gentlemen, her landlady, the detective who keeps popping in unexpectedly, an old law professor and the dog she rescues are more than they seem.
In fact they are all angels and the practice she has inherited, and the law office itself are not limited to tax law. Most of her clients are the dead, and are currently residing in one of the many layers of Hell, sentenced for their sins. Bree's actual job is to investigate and find reason to appeal their sentences, represent them in a heavenly court and, if successful, get their sentences reduced or eliminated.
Mary Stanton brings to this series considerable talent as a writer, a unique storyline, appealing characters, a Southern sensibility and the city of Savannah. She uses Savannah as Anne Rice does New Orleans, for colour and texture and place. She has a talent for infusing her characters, particularly Bree, with intelligence, humour and charm and once engaged this book is difficult to put down.
There is no easy romantic angle on which the story hangs. Bree is smart,likable, a bit confused, ambitious, a loving daughter, and she is confident of her skills as a lawyer. Faced with her unexpected responsibilites she rises to the challenge better than one might expect but it is her legal skill that grounds her and supports this increasingly satisfying series.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa0cecc24) out of 5 stars 43 reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0c4b51c) out of 5 stars Defending Angels has every element needed that makes for a great story Dec 2 2008
By Rachel P. Smith - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Imagine this: You are new in town, ready to take on your late uncle's law firm, and totally gung ho about it. You finally find a place to set up your temporary office. Unfortunately it is in the middle of a cemetery that has only murderers buried in it, and your landlady seems a bit eccentric but hey! At least the rent is cheap. You finally hire two intelligent assistants who seem to be relatively sane. Then voila, you receive that first call from someone (and not just any someone, mind you, but one of the biggest and meanest tycoons in the state) who wants you to represent them. The only problem is, when you immediately call him back, you find out that he's been dead for hours. What would you think?

Brianna Winston Beaufort (but please call her "Bree") thinks it is nothing more than a practical joke brought on by her ex-boyfriend. It just HAS to be. Either that, or everyone around her is completely crazy or it is just her that is losing it.

Bree has to figure things out before she goes mad with frustration. Who are these people she has surrounded herself with? Why are they telling her to take on dead people as clients? Why have her nightmares been coming back? And why is that painting of the cormorant coming to life? What secrets had her uncle been keeping from her about his clientèle? She begins to think that maybe it would be best if she did not bother taking on her uncle's firm.

Defending Angels has every element needed that makes for a great story. The words will captivate you while the story will haunt you. There were so many elements to this story that simply cannot be expressed without giving away too many details. Simply put this is a book that is going on my "must keep" pile.

Reviewed at Bitten by Books Paranormal Fiction Review Site by Lyda
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0c4b6d8) out of 5 stars Sadly disappointing Sept. 29 2009
By D. Chaudoir - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I had been looking forward to reading Mary Stanton's Defending Angels (Berkley Prime Crime, 2008) for quite a while. It's been sitting in my "to be read" pile for some time. The premise was intriguing--a young Savannah attorney, Bree Winston-Beaufort, assumes the law pratice of her late uncle. Soon she learns it is no ordinary law, but Celestial Law that she'll be expected to practice, where the clients are dead and must be defended in Celestial Court. Obviously it is a paranormal mystery, and that was fine with me, in fact I was excited to break into that genre a little (although I enjoy Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse books). Bree assembles a crack team of support staff to help her defend a dead client (whose murder she also must solve), and is guided throughout by mysterious advice from her former law professor. Her sister Angelica breezes into town and stays with Bree. The law practice is in an old mansion near a Murderer's Cemetary on Angelcus Street. You get the idea.

Unfortunately, this book was terribly disappointing and not at all what I expected. Certainly it is up to every author to write the kind of book they want, and many will differ from my view of this book.

Bree does not seem to have any savvy or even curiosity. She approaches almost anything that people tell her with an "Oh well" approach. It was difficult, too, to understand much of Bree's motivation. Too often, Bree feels like she just sort of lets stuff happen to her rather than question or express genuine concern. I did not find her to be a very sympathetic character, which is another of book's several problems. The dialogue and backstory felt like filler, not contributing to substanitive plot points. The large supporting cast of characters is odd and underdeveloped.

Originally I thought the concept was interesting and innovative, but the more I read, the more it seemed to closely echo Albert Brooks's 1991 film, Defending Your Life. The central puzzle of this book was rather simple, and thus not very compelling as a mystery.

I personally think Ms. Stanton does not make full use of the Savannah, Georgia setting, a rather ideal setting for this kind of mystery. I did not get any real sense of place inasmuch as Savannah's mysterious, gothic details were not an integral part of the story, which seems to me like a lost opportunity.

Perhaps the order was too tall for a book like this: create a whole new system of law (basically) and set your character to work in it. First you have to review and establish the basic system of American law itself, then the new Celestial Law, then the local authorities, usual suspects, etc. It's a tall order for this kind of novel. In addition there is the paranormal element, which here feels contrived. I won't spoil these happenings for those interested in reading it for themselves.

I was annoyed by the heavy quotations from Milton and others at the beginning of every chapter. They did not contribute to the story (as do, for example, the herb lore at the beginning of chapters in the China Bayles series by Susan Wittig Albert), and seemed woefully dissonant with the novel.

Ms. Stanton (who also writes as Claudia Bishop) deserves credit for trying to branch out in a very different direction than the typical "cozy" mystery. She succeeded in that regard, but the story itself does not.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0c4d4ec) out of 5 stars Setting up the series July 1 2009
By Darjeeling - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The author gets three stars for a good beginning, fun characters, and an intriguing situation. She loses two for the rushed ending and for having a heroine willing to continue day after day after day without asking these mysterious other characters what in the world is going on! Why does she accept the astonishingly thin story about why a job applicant replaces the one she expected? Why, when events play out as they do (trying to avoid spoilers here) does the character even bother with his story? What about the dog? What about the painting? Will I need a lawyer in the afterlife?

I'll definitely read the next book, because the first was loads of fun, but I hope the author will do some explaining!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0c4d8ac) out of 5 stars Angels and Demons Feb. 15 2009
By Sassy girl - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am happy to have found a new cozy mystery. This one was written by Mary Stanton (Claudia Bishop). I have enjoyed her "Hemlock Falls" and "Casebooks of Dr. McKenzie" mysteries. Now we have a new series called "Beaufort & Company".
This mystery centers around a woman lawyer named, Brianna Winston-Beaufort. Bree inherits her uncle's law practice in Savannah, Georgia.
Little does she know, her first client will be a ghost. This ghost is a tough cookie. He wants answers as to who killed him and he wants the answers NOW!
Bree has her hands full with some "unusual helpers" on the job ,to get the case solved.
With the "company of angels" by her side, she delvers the goods.
As Shakespeare wrote, "There are more things in heaven and Earth".
This mystery definitely shows us more. An interesting concept to be sure.
I am looking forward to the next installment in this mystery series.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0c4d990) out of 5 stars Whence Cometh Angels To Defend Thee? Nov. 9 2009
By Regis Schilken - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Due to the bizarre incidents that occur on the very first pages of Defending Angels, a reader is surely suspicious that an odd, even paranormal, tale is forth coming. Young Bree Beaufort has moved to Savannah because her recently deceased uncle willed her his law practice. He died in an office fire.

While extensive repairs are being made, Bree sets up a temporary law office by renting the ground floor of an old home that sits in the center of a run down cemetery. Only murderers have been buried there. Her elderly eccentric landlord, who lives in ghostlike silence on the second floor, charges Bree very little rent. She immediately befriends the young lawyer and takes for granted she is part of Bree's legal staff. As Bree walks out through the cemetery, she hears a horrible wail.

"She caught a glimpse of a white face, the mouth split in a terrible grin ... the scent of decaying corpses was stronger now."

Behind a tree, Bree finds a dog caught in the jaws of a trap. Carefully releasing him, she takes the animal for emergency medical attention. Then, unable to abandon the affectionate creature, she takes him to her townhouse, where he becomes her benevolent protector.

Bree's first legal case provides the story with its somewhat over-imaginative plot. An extremely wealthy dead man phones Bree insisting she find his murderer. Authorities have ruled his demise as death due to drowning. Allegedly, the deceased fell from the prow of his boat after suffering a heart attack.

The departed man's, unkempt, female associate awards Bree a $10,000 retainer to find the billionaire's slayer. She claims the deceased man threatens to haunt her until his killer is brought to justice.

Bree hires two male office assistants, both of whom appear as oddball as her aged landlord. It is this weird, uncanny threesome that helps Bree determine exactly how her murdered client died and who killed him. Then too, she receives help from a muscular but unavailable local police officer, and a private investigator who always seems to arrive in time to save Bree from any frightening or dangerous threat.

In Defending Angels, Bree is obsessed with a reoccurring nightmare. Oddly enough, she is given a painting to hang above the fireplace in her cemetery office. Horrified, she recognizes the artwork as the embodiment of her hideous dream. A cormorant with wings spread is painted above a gristly scene of people drowning in the sea, arms outstretched despairingly reaching for help. Although no plausible reason is given, she is told by her younger office assistant she cannot destroy this painting.

"Well, my dear, you can't, of course. It's one of the copies of the Rise of the Cormorant."

As Defending Angels, progresses, the story becomes more comedic than scary. Bree worries, but just briefly, about her own mind breaking with reality. At one moment, she is deeply involved with her murder investigation, interacting with suspects regarding her dead client's murder. Then suddenly, paranormal phenomena occur.

"Then with a sudden, horrifying blow, she felt the pitch and sway of her nightmare ship beneath her feet. The percussion of deadly wings beat above her head. The screams of the dying ..."

Throughout the tale, Bree accepts all the bizarre things she encounters with poise and dignity -- at least most of them. She interacts with her meddling family in a realistic way, especially with her younger sister whom she thoroughly loves and enjoys. It is these normal folk and her dog that seem to ground her in reality.

Near the end of the book, Bree finds herself not only exposing the real circumstances of her departed client's death, but also defending him in the Court of Celestial Law. There, he is being tried for the crime of greed which played such a prominent role in his earthly death in the first place.

As a whole, Defending Angels is a fun, entertaining mystery with quirky characters who interact with realistic dialogue, often in very strange, unpredictable ways. I found the tale more humorous than frightening but I'd guess this is the author's intention.

I would recommend this book to anyone hunting a light, often humorous tale where the paranormal is not only accepted, but also plays an important role in helping our young heroine establish her case of murder. The readers of this genre would find the book fascinating from its very first pages. What could be more interesting than a small group of Defending Angels working with a human being to help her win a day in court?

Other interesting reads:
Angel's Advocate (A Beaufort & Company Mystery)
In the Arms of Angels: True Stories of Heavenly Guardians
Sunchaser's Quest (Unicorns of Balinor)

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