Books are as unique as the people that write them, some are skin deep while others lead you into a journey of discovery. No two books are alike.

On more than one occasion I have been asked for advice about how to write a book review, my answer is always that the review writes itself. As I am reading, subconsciously a part of me is building a picture in my mind. Sometimes it is just a charcoal sketch, sometimes a pastel water color, and in the case of Angel’s Oracle it is a richly textured oil on canvas.

In the case of Angel’s Oracle it is a painting that changes over time, at first a still life from the Renaissance period, this morphs into two new canvasses, one representing the life and times of the grand southern plantation owners, the other, the plight of the slave. Gary Bolick then brings these two very different views back to one single picture, I can even name it, as it has already been painted by Edvard Munch in The Scream.

Angel’s Oracle is a book that draws the reader in, it is seductive. The setting is the small town of Angel, Mississippi in 1959. Virgil Burnett is a man with simple needs, A musician at heart, but the head maintenance man at a golf course and park to pay the bills. In many ways Virgil is an anomaly, he is white, yet his friends and co-workers are mainly not. When pushed on the issue, he has this to say:

It’s not that I don’t like coloreds, it’s that I hate what’s being done to ’em. I hate what i see. They’re like a mirror, a reflection of your failure, sh!t, every man’s failure. Why can’t we all just leave each other alone?

Sage words indeed.

The town of Angel is mostly a very peaceful place, everyone knows everyone else, the height of excitement being a cup of coffee and a sandwich at Arlis Butram’s store.

The nearby town of Charon was where the true action was to be found. The enterprising Seer Bohnam had created a veritable mecca, Bars, Brothels, Drugs and Moonshine in this blip on the map.

the_scream_munch.jpgTo share much more of Angel’s Oracle would be to do a great disservice to Gary Bolick. However I do feel that I can add some teasers without spoiling the incredible story. The author has turned the usual good vs bad plot on its head. There are no heroes, there are merely victims. Yes there is a bad guy, and yes he is very bad. Going back to the painting analogy I started with, Gary Bolick pulls out the very finest of brushes to to paint his own version of Munch’s Scream.

I will also offer this piece of information, Angels oracle is not Virgil Burnett, although he could have been.

Gary Bolick is a writer that deserves to be noticed. Within the pages of Angel’s Oracle he explores many different arenas and does it with style and aplomb. His side journeys into the highways and byways of the past are deserving of books all by themselves. (note to Gary – write a book about Thom Burley).

Angel’s Oracle can be found at better bookstores everywhere, or ordered from Amazon by using the link above.

Simon Barrett

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