Sunday, August 1, 2010
Heaven's Rage by Tiffany Craig Brown
Heaven's Rage is the first novel by Tiffany Craig Brown, a former corporate communications expert and also former managing editor of the Natomas Journal established in the Sacramento area.
Heaven's Rage is the story of a retired helicopter pilot named Richard Tate who is found murdered in his apartment; the most likely suspects being four women from Tate's past -- three ex-wives and his college lover. Homicide Detective Ian Buchanan must interview all four women to determine who killed Tate, however the more he learns, the more he sympathizes for the women and not the victim!
Tiffany Craig Brown initially pulls readers in by making us privy to the gruesome details of Tate's crime scene, as well as presenting us with a clue left behind at the crime scene in the form of mysterious vomit that is presumed to come from someone other than the victim. I must admit I was truly intrigued by the vomit and where it originated from! As we read the first few chapters, it is evident that Brown definitely performed thorough research concerning the police procedural methods, which are artfully executed.
Upon finishing up with the initial crime scene portion, Heaven's Rage is then split up into four main sections detailing each horrendous relationship Richard Tate had with the women in his life. We learn that Tate (appropriately nicknamed Dick by the way) is a disturbed man with severe issues stemming from his childhood and just like Detective Buchanan, we are appalled by Tate and of the way he treats each woman. I found myself feeling genuinely happy that someone murdered him for the novel's sake, and became emotional in sympathizing with each suspect!
The flow of the novel is superb because it's got the "I-can't-put-it-down!" quality, with perfect transitions and breaks in all the right spots. As a reader, the pleasure and value of Heaven's Rage is being able to identify with each of Tate's "victims", and we find that we love to hate Richard "Dick" Tate along with trying to identify the murderer.
My biggest jaw-dropping moment occurred while reading the following excerpt from ex-wife Jordan's story, in which she recounts an experience on a road trip and camping outing Dick forces her to take with their children:
"I'm really sore and uncomfortable, Dick," she lamented. "Did you forget
your promise to the doctor? You were supposed to let me get out and
walk around every couple of hours..."
"Oh, quit your bitchin'," he interrupted. "You've done nothing but
complain through the whole damn trip. Stop being such a baby!"
Tears stung her eyes. Her lips trembled and her voice wavered as she
responded, "I gave birth six days ago! I shouldn't even be on this trip!"
She swiped at her eyes furiously but the more she tried to stop crying,
the harder the tears fell.
The above sample is just one of many injustices and harsh treatments Dick imposes on his wives, and this is exactly why we end up sympathizing with the suspects. Can you imagine the idea of spending the rest of your life with such a character? Tiffany Craig Brown will stir much emotion and instill such rage in you while reading Heaven's Rage.
Being an avid murder mystery reader, I believe Heaven's Rage may have been more impacting had there been more concrete clues scattered throughout the novel in regards to determining the murderer's identity. The largest draw and allure of crime and mystery novels is being able to apply the author's clues to solving the murderer's identity before it is revealed to us. Although the murderer's identity is indeed surprising, Heaven's Rage does not provide readers with enough clues to solve the mystery on their own.
I personally enjoyed Heaven's Rage because of my familiarity with the military lifestyle (being a military brat myself) and having lived in the locations featured in the novel including Colorado Springs, San Diego, and Coronado. On the other hand, you won't need to be familiar with the above attributes to enjoy Heaven's Rage and better yet, it will appeal to all genres of readers! Heaven's Rage is evidence that Tiffany Craig Brown has amazing talent hands-down, and as a reader you won't be disappointed! No matter what your taste, you'll gain something from Heaven's Rage whether it be satisfaction from revenge or even being able to relate to nasty divorce and custody battles, among many other real-life experiences this novel brings to light.
Heaven's Rage was released in May 2010, and I hope to see Tiffany Craig Brown follow it up with another. Be sure to stop by and visit her website at http://tiffanycraigbrown.com/!
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