ANGEL BABY is essentially an elongated chase sequence which begins when Luz decides to leave her life as the obedient wife of El Principe, a key player in a Mexican drug cartel, and abscond to greener pastures with the daughter she abandoned years before. With just the clothes on her back, all the money in her husband’s safe, and his prized Colt .45, she sets off on a mission that will impact the lives of three men.
Malone is the most sympathetic of the male cast, a drunk who can’t dull the pain of the past no matter how many beverages he downs in rapid succession. His occupation, in this stupor in which he exists, is running illegals across the US border – which is how he gets involved in Luz’s mess, tasked with getting her safety to the other side, where she’ll find her daughter and disappear. But El Principe isn’t the kind of man to simply accept his wife’s treachery; using his influence he frees the killer Jeronimo from prison and threatens to butcher his family unless he finds Luz. As he tracks Luz, he crosses paths with a corrupt Border Patrol officer named Thacker; who has run up such a gambling debt, he’ll do anything for money.
ANGEL BABY is a taut, violent crime novel; utterly compelling despite being filled with deplorable characters. The cat and mouse dynamic constantly shifts; when a character has the upper hand, Lange slams on the break and pulls a U-turn, propelling the narrative in a new direction, resetting the status-quo. The action is sharp, and the tension rises to an impossible degree, reaching a sensational, bloody conclusion. Richard Lange has made my list of must-read crime novels.