FFB: How Like An Angel

this is the 87th book in my series of forgotten or seldom read books

How Like An Angel by Margaret Millar, © 1962, Carroll & Graf 2000 mass market paperback, mystery – Joe Quinn, P.I.

Private detective Joe Quinn gambles. That’s how he’s lost his job, car, clothes, and girlfriend; it’s why he’s hitchhiking from Reno to California, where he hopes to collect a small debt to see him through and get him back to Reno. He thinks his luck will change.

Hitchhiking, he’s dropped off along a secondary highway short of his goal. Hungry, thirsty and tired, he takes the little used driveway to a religious cult commune called The Tower. He hopes the back-country compound can offer him food and water and a place to sleep until morning when he’ll try to find a ride into the coastal city that is his goal.

There he meets Sister Blessing who, when she finds out Quinn is a private investigator, asks him to locate a man named Patrick O’Gorman. It proves to be no easy task: O’Gorman’s dead, apparently in an automobile accident several years before, having gone through a guard rail and into a flooding river. The body was never found, but was assumed to have washed down river and O’Gorman drowned. However, the more questions he asks, the less sure Quinn is that the death was as accidental as everyone insists.

The story becomes more and more involved as Quinn continues to talk to people, many of whom don’t seem to want to discuss the accident. Each new conversation hints at something deeper, an angle not previously understood. But there are contradictions too.

I kept guessing what happened, who did what to whom, how it was going to turn out, but every time I was wrong. When the last page was read, I was stunned, I’d been completely fooled. My wife read this soon after I did, and she enjoyed it too. She wasn’t as fooled as I, but still didn’t figure it out until the last 10-15 pages. Highly recommended.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Patti Abbott back and the rest of the Friday Forgotten Book posts
can be found at her blog Pattinaise

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7 Responses to FFB: How Like An Angel

  1. Evan Lewis says:

    Guess I’m unenlightened because I’ve never read one of Margaret’s books. Read plenty by Mr. Millar, though. Does that count?

  2. John says:

    One of her most popular mysteries. This book is the most like the kind of book her husband wrote. Evan would like this one with the weird cult just like in THE MOVING TARGET. I tend to like her crime novels rather than her detective novels. In her early ones the mystery plots are sometimes a bit transparent to me. Not here though!

  3. I consider HOW LIKE AN ANGEL to be Millar’s best book. She wrote plenty of very good books, but none as good as this one.

  4. Jeff Meyerson says:

    I haven’t read that many of hers but of the ones I have read, I agree with George – this is the best.

  5. This may be my favorite because it proves you can plot well and write great characters.

  6. Haven’t read the book but I love that title.

  7. Probably my favourite too and it does make for a very interesting comparison with her husband’s work too of course.

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