Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Review of Concrete Angel by Patricia Abbott (Polis Books, 2015)
Concrete Angel is marketed as ‘domestic suspense’ and that seems an apt label. The story follows the life of Eve Moran, a compulsive petty thief and hoarder, from her adolescence in the 1950s to middle age, and her various trials and tribulations in and around Philadelphia. In particular, it focuses on her strained relationship with her family, her husband and various lovers, and her daughter, Christine. The latter slowly transforms from willing pawn and accomplice to resentful teenager, the change starting after she takes the rap for a murder her mother committed. When Eve starts to use her young son in her crimes, Christine decides it’s time to try and end her mother’s behaviour. The novel then is a relatively unusual for a crime novel given its extended timeline and its detailed character study. Over the course of the story one really gets to know Eve and her family and their unfolding relationships. The tale has plenty of drama, with an endless stream of crimes and scams, from shoplifting to murder. Abbott, however, rather centring the plot on them, makes these a part of the everyday theatre of Eve and Christine’s lives. The only bit that didn’t ring quite true to me was the ending, which felt a little underplayed. Overall, an interesting tale told in an engaging voice.