Review: Angel of the Abyss by Ed Kurtz

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About Angel of the Abyss

When Graham Woodard is hired to restore part of a previously lost silent horror film—Angel of the Abyss—the last thing he expects is the first in a series of murders clearly meant to keep it lost.

With one-time friend Jake Maitland in tow, the two must now navigate the treacherous enigma that is the lost film, while piecing together the story of the film’s ill-fated starlet, Grace Baron, who vanished in 1926. The closer they get to the truth, the more blood is spilled, and it soon becomes apparent that there is much more to the lost film than anyone expected, as there are still forces that will stop at nothing to keep it and its star buried. The darkness the strange film conjured all those years ago has come alive again with its discovery, and now everyone from Graham’s own estranged ex-wife to the LAPD is getting involved.

And the body count is growing.

From the burgeoning film studios of 1920s Hollywood to the perilous streets and dark underbelly of modern-day Los Angeles, Angel of the Abyss is a dangerous tapestry of cinema, history and murder, at the center of which stand two men with everything to lose.


About the Author

Ed Kurtz is the author of ANGEL OF THE ABYSS, THE FORTY-TWO, and A WIND OF KNIVES, as well as numerous short stories. His work has appeared in Needle: A Magazine of Noir, BEAT to a PULP, Shotgun Honey, Thuglit, and several anthologies, including The Best American Mystery Stories 2014. Ed resides in Texas, where he is at work on his next novel.

Visit Ed Kurtz online at edkurtz.net.


My Thoughts

Angel of the Abyss, by Ed Kurtz, grabbed me right off the bat, and I had a hard time letting go of this one.

The story unfolds in a dual narrative between film restoration expert Graham Woodard in the present-day, and through the eyes of lost 1920s starlet, Grace Baron. Woodard is hired to restore the footage of a recently rediscovered silent-era film that was thought lost to history. It is also the only film Baron ever appeared in, and the subject matter was rather unsettling - and unseemly - for its era, rife with depictions of occultism, female nudity, and erotic scenes between Baron and a demonic creature.

With the Hollywood backdrop, and the murder of Woodard's employer, Kurtz infuses his narrative with a cool noir sheen. The Roaring '20 are well written as well, with the dialogue coming off as rapid-paced back-and-forths with the actors, actresses, directors and producers imbibing on alcohol made illegal thanks to Prohibition. The time-jumps are very well written, and each half of the narrative make for compelling stories in their own right. These split narratives converge into a satisfying finale.

Overall, Angel of the Abyss was a very enjoyable read, and a cool and elegant crime thriller. I really appreciated the bit of fictional film history, largely influenced by the off-set dramatics during this period in Hollywood's still largely infantile state, where rich producers and burgeoning gangsters reined as the nation began moving toward the Red Scare. Kurtz does an excellent job capturing the feel of that era, while keeping the present-day narrative grounded and within the realm of credibility. Highly recommended.

Buy Angel of the Abyss  AT amazon

Michael Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.


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