Read Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg Ridley Scott James Crumley Online


A spellbinding novel of murder, mystery, and the occult, Falling Angel pits a tough New York private eye against the most fearsome adversary a detective ever faced. For Harry Angel, a routine missing-persons case soon turns into a fiendish nightmare of voodoo and black magic, of dizzying peril and violent death. Many people feel that Falling Angel is the greatest AmericanA spellbinding novel of murder, mystery, and the occult, Falling Angel pits a tough New York private eye against the most fearsome adversary a detective ever faced. For Harry Angel, a routine missing-persons case soon turns into a fiendish nightmare of voodoo and black magic, of dizzying peril and violent death. Many people feel that Falling Angel is the greatest American supernatural horror novel of the 20th century.With a new foreword by Ridley Scott, an introduction by the late James Crumley, and a new afterword by the author and a bonus short story, plus a letter from Stephen King, the first time that the letter has ever been published in its complete form.The hardcover edition is limited to just 300 copies and is signed by William Hjortsberg. Bound in cloth with a dustjacket with the original Stanislaw Zagorski wraparound dustjacket printed against a black background with spot varnish....

Title : Falling Angel
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781933618081
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 302 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Falling Angel Reviews

  • Delee
    2019-05-12 22:58

    Vooooodoooo...hard boiled detective mystery, and twisted loooooooove.Thanks Jeff- just what I was in the mood for.FALLING ANGEL...the 2nd novel I have read this month that Mickey Rourke stared in the movie...but this time, the book was sooooooooooooooo much better than the film...and it has nothing to do with the fact that Mickey is cuter in Nine and a Half Weeks- I swear.New York City 1959Private investigator- Harry Angel is hired by mysterious client- Louis Cyphre to find Johnny Favorite- a crooner injured during WWII and possibly living in an old folks home....or is he?Harry fails to abide by a number one rule...never trust a man with long finger nails. Just don't do it!!! Men with long finger nails alllllllllways = bad news....but Harry takes the case anyways- and follows a trail leading to Johnny. Soon he is in waaaay over his head- dealing with things waaaay out of his comfort zone. This book was EXACTLY what I was looking for, at EXACTLY the right time- Willian Hjortsberg is definitely an author I am going to read again. I just hope his next book bloooooooows me away like this one did.

  • Helen Ροζουλί Εωσφόρος Vernus Portitor Arcanus Ταμετούρο Αμούν Arnum
    2019-05-18 00:04

    Ο Stephen King διάβασε το συγκεκριμένο βιβλίο, γοητεύτηκε και προλόγισε διθυραμβικά σχόλια. Τελικά το έχω παρατηρήσει, οποιοδήποτε βιβλίο υμνεί ο King εμένα με αφήνει παγερά αδιάφορη. Το συγκεκριμένο βιβλίο θεωρώ πως δεν είναι για έμπειρους αναγνώστες.Αναγνωστικά και ηλικιακά.Η αλήθεια είναι πως ο συγγραφέας το προσπάθησε αρκετά απο την αρχή και πυροδοτώντας όλα τα λογοτεχνικά τεχνάσματα στο τέλοςπροσπάθησε να ρίξει θριαμβευτικά αυλαία, αφήνοντας άφωνους τους αναγνώστες. Δεν τα κατάφερε. Ίσως επειδή ο ίδιος παρασύρθηκε απο την σφοδρή του επιθυμία να γράψει το καταπληκτικό θρίλερ, νουαρ, τρόμου, μυστηρίου, αστυνομικό παλαιάς κοπής μυθιστόρημα. Ήθελε να το διαφεντεύει ο πρίγκιπας του σκότους, οι σατανιστικές τελετές, οι ιεροτελεστίες βουντού και διάφορα υπερφυσικά που συνεπαίρνουν και μαγεύουν σατανιστικά τον αναγνώστη. Έφτιαξε μια καλοστημένη παγίδα και φρόντισε λίγο πριν πλησιάσει το θύμα του να γράψει μια ταμπέλα με την ένδειξη : «Προσοχή Κίνδυνος». Η παγίδα παραμένει επικίνδυνη αλλά η προειδοποίηση αυτομάτως την ακυρώνει. Για να αποσαφηνίσω καλύτερα τις σκέψεις μου θα αναφέρω απλώς πως μόνο με τις προφανείς συμβουλές και σκέψεις του ντετέκτιβ Έιντζελ... (δαιμονισμένος Άγγελος ο τίτλος) καθώς και το όνομα του πελάτη που προσλαμβάνει τον ντετέκτιβ για την λύση μιας μυστικής, σκοτεινής και ξεχασμένης υπόθεσης, ο αναγνώστης αντιλαμβάνεται και την εξέλιξη και το (μη) αναμενόμενο τέλος απο τα πρώτα κεφαλαία. Εκεί χάνεται όλη η μεγαλοπρέπεια του βιβλίου. Κατά τα άλλα, είναι το απόλυτα ευκολοδιάβαστο βιβλίο, με όμορφα σχεδιασμένους χαρακτήρες και μικρές εκπλήξεις που σε κάνουν να υποψιάζεσαι πως ίσωςνα ‘χεις πέσει έξω στις προβλέψεις σου και να συγκλονιστείς με την τελική ανταμοιβή.Κινείται με έντονο ρυθμό και υποβλητικό ύφος που περιγράφει τέλεια την μεταπολεμική Ν. Υόρκη τη δεκαετία του 1950, με όλες τις εντυπώσεις,τις μυρωδιές,τους ήχους και τα χρώματα, σε έναν τζαζ, αλκοολικό, ξεπεσμένο και ξέφρενο συνδυασμό. Καλή ανάγνωση. Πολλούς ασπασμούς.

  • Char
    2019-05-11 22:44

    4.5 stars! There are two reasons I bought this book. 1. I bought it at my favorite brick and mortar bookstore, Bunch of Grapes(, because I wanted to contribute in some small way to their beautiful store. 2. Because my friend Marc has been hounding me to read it for a couple of years now. He was right, and I now wish I had read this book sooner.This is a crime-noir novel, written in the 70's but actually taking place in the early 50's. As such, there are some racist comments and remarks, as well as some slang with which I was unfamiliar. For instance, did you know that shamus was slang for private detective? Yeah, I didn't either. What puts this novel in the dark fiction category was the voodoo and Satanic worship which both play a role in the plot.Speaking of which, the plot was excellent. It got a little complicated, but I never lost my way. The story was also peppered with a bit of dry humor, which I always enjoy. Going into the last chapters, I have to say I was a bit disappointed. I've been told so much about this book, I guess I was feeling a bit let down. Then......the ending of this story blew me away. Highly recommended for fans of crime-noir and dark fiction!

  • James Thane
    2019-05-26 00:55

    First published in 1978, this is a novel that combines a fairly traditional hard-boiled detective story with supernatural horror elements. In brief, I enjoyed the hard-boiled side of the story, the supernatural parts not so much.The story is set in 1959. New York City P.I. Harry Angel is hired by a mysterious man named Louis Cyphre to track down a former popular singer named Johnny Favorite. As the Second World War began, Favorite was becoming a major star on the order of what Frank Sinatra would become only a few years later, but Favorite was drafted and severely wounded overseas. He was shipped home and hospitalized in upstate New York, basically left to spend the rest of his life as a vegetable.Or at least that's the story. Cypher tells Harry Angel that he had a contract with Favorite, providing that in the event of Favorite's death, Cypher would be due a significant payment. Cypher wants to know that Favorite is, in fact, still alive and that he's not being cheated out of his due. Harry takes the case and inevitably will find a major mystery on his hands.So far, so good. It's a great setup and Hjortsberg brilliantly describes the New York City of the late 1950s. One feels like you're in the bars and jazz clubs sitting right beside Angel and walking down the streets along side him. The author also turns an excellent phrase on virtually every page. But halfway through the book, the story slides into the world of voodoo, black magic, carnival freaks, fevered dreams, and supernatural developments, and if this is your cup of tea, so much the better.But it isn't mine, which is no doubt my fault and not the author's. That is to say that this is not a bad book at all, just one that wasn't in my wheelhouse. As an added concern, I can usually stomach almost any gruesome development that I read in a crime novel, but in this case there's a scene that totally grossed me out. I would argue that the scene wasn't even really necessary to the plot, and it was so over the top that I was truly offended.This book was ultimately made into a movie called "Angel Heart," that featured an excellent cast, including Robert De Niro, Mickey Rourke, Charlotte Rampling and Lisa Bonet. I remember liking the movie and was disappointed that I didn't like the book as well. The movie moves the story from New York to New Orleans, though, and in that respect, the black magic and other supernatural elements may make more sense. I'm going to dig out the movie and watch it again, just to check myself. But as for the book, I have a really split impression. An easy four stars for the hard-boiled parts, for the great writing and for the New York setting; two stars for the supernatural parts that I couldn't buy into and for the gruesome scene that turned my stomach, averaging out to three stars.

  • Miriam
    2019-05-08 23:40

    An entertaining read, but very heavy on the foreshadowing. Everything that happened, I was able to predict from hints in the first couple chapters. I would not, therefore, recommend this as a mystery, but if you want a noir about doomed people in NY City you may enjoy it.The obviousness of the plot and the literary devices did make it extra-amusing that my copy was annotated by someone who pointed out all the most obvious things:

  • Apatt
    2019-05-04 01:34

    “The night was black, was no use holding back'Cause I just had to see, was someone watching me.In the mist dark figures move and twistWas all this for real, or just some kind of hell?666 the number of the beastHell and fire was spawned to be released.”(cue face-melting guitar solo)“The Number Of The Beast” - IronMaiden“I took a closer look at what protruded from his swollen lips and suddenly one drink wasn’t going to be enough.”That quote from the book made me chuckle, William Hjortsberg’s prose is full of snarky comments like that. His narrative style saves the book for me.Falling Angel is set in the 50s. It tells the story of Harry Angel, P.I. who is hired by an enigmatic gentleman called Louis Cyphre to track down a jazz singer called “Johnny Favorite” (they meet at “666 Fifth Avenue” restaurant no less). It seems like a straightforward enough job until voodoo cults and Satanists stick their oar in.Louis Cyphre, “You talkin' to me?”Falling Angel is something of a slow burn, it is quite engaging and readable from beginning to end but at the same time, I was not particularly riveted by it either. I think your degree of appreciation for a book like this depends on your predilection for horror fiction. If your favorite books areThe Shining,Dracula,The Exorcist, or anything byH.P. Lovecraft then I suspect you would not find the weirdness level of Falling Angel quite up to snuff. There is almost nothing overtly supernatural in this book, except perhaps in the last chapter, and even that is a little vague. On the other hand, if you like mildly spooky reads, likeThe Turn of The Screw or “magical realism” perhaps you will find this book quite satisfying. The crime noir styling blends quite well with the dark, satanic cult plotline; there is also a substantial amount of violence and gore.I quite enjoyed the prose style and the dialog which is reminiscent of hard-boiled crime fiction authors likeRaymond Chandler. Harry Angel’s irreverent quips and first-person narration often made me chuckle. Harry is not exactly a sympathetic protagonist, he is more like an anti-hero who is only looking out for number one. Louis Cyphre is a very cool and intriguing antagonist, I have not seen the Angel Heart, the 1987 movie adaptation of this book, but I can imagine De Niro is great in the role. Epiphany Proudfoot, the witchy love interest, is basically just a plot device with little in the way of nuances.As a horror fan, I am mildly disappointed in Falling Angel, it is not fantastical enough for my taste, though it is not too shabby. Next book I read for this Halloween fest will have monsters up the wazoo.Quotes:“I got them voodoo blues, Them evil hoo-doo blues. Petro Loa won’t leave me alone; Every night I hear the zombies moan. Lord, I got them mean ol’ voodoo blues.”“When someone barges in without a word it’s either a cop or trouble. Sometimes both in the same package.”“The ash from my cigarette dropped onto my tie and left a smudge next to the soup stain when I brushed it off.”“The sudden whiteness of his smile split his dark face like the end of a lunar eclipse.”This kicks off my Halloween Reads Fest 2017! 😱

  • Gary
    2019-04-28 19:45

    I really liked this book. It starts out as a typical detective yarn (stereotypical even?) that spins itself into an occult tale of voodoo and satanism. The detective, Harry Angel, agrees to search for and find Johnny Favorite, a popular singer that made the circuit prior to World War II.Angel interviews a cast of characters and the story seems to take on a run of the mill "interview and look for loopholes in the story" plot. The occasional gruesome murder that seems to dog Angel keeps the story moving and produces an edginess/tension which made me wonder when something would jump out next.The first half of the book seemed to move slowly, but once the occult aspects of the case began to appear the mystery itself contributed to the tension plot. I began to suspect everyone. Angel's Columbo like attitude serves as a nice counterpoint to many of the characters he encounters and nothing is really what it seems to be.I found myself wanting to see exactly what he would find when he found Johnny Valentine and the more I read, the more sure I became he would find him.Fortunately, I had long since forgotten the plot of the 80s movie Angel Heart or this would have been spoiled for me. I remembered just enough to have a nagging feeling I knew something was happening, but not enough to put my finger on it. The book is an enjoyable read if you saw the film awhile back. I don't remember the details enough to determine how closely aligned the film and book are.Overall this was a nice mix of detective and voodoo/satanic murder genres. The story grows gradually until a brutal and nearly over the top finale.Four stars.

  • Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder*
    2019-05-21 01:40

    “The tomb lies at the end of every path. Only the soul is immortal. Guard this treasure well. Your decaying husk is but a temporary vessel on an endless voyage.”I've watched Angel Heart several times over the years, having no idea until last year it was spawned from a novel. Unobservant me never noticed until it was brought up in someone else's review. Being a fan of the twisted supernatural story-line meets hard boiled detective, I instantly purchased it. Did the book hold up to the movie?Detective Harry Angel is hired by an unusual, wealthy client to hunt down a long-missing man who was admitted to a treatment facility years ago for war injuries and complete memory loss. It's never easy to follow a cold trail, but he does his best, landing in the twisted world of backwater voodoo, close-lipped musicians, carnival acts and....well, much worse.I can't think of another novel quite like this one. Usually the supernatural does not blend with this genre, and if it does, it doesn't usually it do it as daringly. I knew the ending of the book already thanks to its film presence, but up until a certain point the script matched the page. I was starting to think there wasn't going to be any deviations at all, but they eventually came.The book wins with getting further into the story and the details, longer interviews and other stops that were omitted from the film, and a sense of urgency. I like how the relationship between Harry and a lady love are better explored in written form, with more scenes and better fleshed out. Hjortsberg's writing style is smooth flowing with a particular talent for stylish dialogue.On the other hand, the movie won on keeping the big secret longer. There were more obvious clues dropped in the book, and the producers probably felt better removing it before the big screen transfer so it didn't come across so obvious and easily guessed.There's brutality and violence, there's psychological mind games and hidden surprises, there's tension and a big twist at the end to cap off a journey that was already deadly. Every reader should check this one out.

  • Peggy
    2019-05-08 23:42

    William Hjortsberg's Falling Angel was the basis for the movie Angel Heart, and, Mickey Rourke notwithstanding, it's a mighty fine adaptation. Even if you've seen the movie, the book is well worth a read, but those of you who haven't seen the movie are in for a special treat.Falling Angel tells the story of Harry Angel: a P.I. hired by a mysterious stranger to find out the whereabouts of 1940's crooner Johnny Favorite. What seems fairly straightforward at first glance becomes more and more complicated as the investigation continues. Soon bodies start appearing and it looks like our man Angel is being set up to take the fall. Every new piece of the puzzle he finds reveals just how much of the story he hasn't been told. The investigation takes many unexpected turns and eventually Harry ends up involved with blues musicians, fake swamis, voodoo priestesses and a satanic cult.Although the story is chock full of supernatural elements, the style is completely a hard-boiled detective story of the Hammett/Chandler/Cain era. It's a nice juxtaposition of style and content. The noir detective tends toward the cynical anyway, so Angel's disbelief in the occult occurrences rings true. The crime novels from that era deal with all kinds of conspiracies and chicanery, but everything is fully grounded in reality. There's always a reason, a human reason, for all the trouble that occurs. It's a treat to take that same style and those same assumptions and look at them all from a different angle. Hjortsberg does an excellent job in keeping the reader guessing as the plot unfolds. Just when you think you know what's going to happen (or what just happened), the story slips away from your grasp. Hjortsberg plays us just as subtly and just as thoroughly as his characters play one another. Up until the final revelations, you're never quite sure just how it's all going to turn out.And now for the bad news: those of you who've seen Angel Heart know the surprise that Hjortsberg has in store for the reader. Knowing how it all turns out before you get there is a real bitch. While this doesn't invalidate the story, it does mean that you get thwacked in the forehead with foreshadowing every other paragraph or so. This was incredibly disappointing to me the first time I read Falling Angel. I was actually angry at the movie for being too good of an adaptation and therefore spoiling a mighty fine read. But you know what? If the worst thing you can say about a book is that someone made a pretty good movie out of it, then that's probably a pretty safe recommendation.

  • Ben Loory
    2019-05-18 20:34

    on the one hand, i think it's a perfect book. on the other hand, it was ruined a little bit by the fact that i'd already seen the movie angel heart, which was based on it, and so a lot of the power was lost. on the third hand, since so much power was lost simply because i knew what was going to happen, it's probably not a 5-star book (The Maltese Falcon and The Chill, for instance, just get better with each reading/viewing). but on the fourth hand, it's fucking genius, so fuck the third hand. 5 stars it is. and one of a kind.

  • Bill
    2019-05-24 19:58

    Who wouldn’t love a supernatural crime noir tale set in the 50’s with voodoo, satanic cults, brutal murders and a hard-boiled detective named Harry Angel. I can see why this one is considered a classic...because it is. Highly Recommended.

  • Camille Stein
    2019-05-13 20:38

    Mickey Rourke / ‘Angel Heart’ (1987) / Alan Parker & William Hjortsberg - muy taimadamente que te acerques a un espejo, tu imagen siempre te mira directamente a los ojos.—Es un título de abogado —respondí—. Perteneció al fundador de esta agencia. Ya ha muerto.—¿Sentimental? —farfulló Sterne entre sus apretados labios de ventrílocuo.—Pone un toque de distinción.—¿Qué dice? —preguntó el sargento Deimos.—Lo ignoro. No entiendo el latín.—De modo que es eso. Latín.—Eso es.—¿Cambiaría algo si fuera hebreo? —espetó Sterne. Deimos se encogió de hombros.—¿Alguna otra pregunta, teniente? —inquirí.Sterne volvió a clavar en mí su apática mirada de polizonte. Sus ojos delataban que no sonreía nunca. Ni siquiera durante una sesión de torturas. Se limitaba a cumplir con su deber.—Ninguna. Usted y su «derecho a ser discreto» ya se pueden ir a almorzar. Tal vez lo llamemos por teléfono, pero no confíe demasiado en ello. Sólo se trata de otro negro muerto. A nadie le importa una mierda.—Llámeme si me necesita.—No lo dude. Es un auténtico caballero, ¿verdad, Deimos?Nos apretujamos todos en el minúsculo ascensor y bajamos sin pronunciar una palabra....Adaptada magníficamente al cine por Alan Parker y el propio William Hjortsberg en el año 1987 (‘Angel Heart’), ‘El ángel caído’ se desarrolla de forma engañosa, contada en su mayor parte con las maneras propias de la clásica novela negra de detectives, para convertirse paulatinamente en un híbrido pérfido y tortuoso, donde lo terrorífico y sobrenatural acaban adquiriendo un papel predominante. Obra heterodoxa, atmosférica y original, macabra odisea por los lugares más inhóspitos de la extrañeza, la desmemoria y la desesperación. Un viaje maléfico al corazón más oscuro del Nueva York de los años cincuenta, plagado de vudú y rituales satánicos, bandas de blues y jazz, personajes marginales y marginados que se erigen en inquietantes señales dentro del itinerario fatal que habrá de recorrer Harold Angel en el curso de sus investigaciones. Relato sucio, imperfecto, repleto de frases escritas como aceradas cuchillas, que resplandece con su ambientación sugerente y cautivadora, con su final único y contundente.

  • Jason
    2019-05-14 02:02

    4 Stars What a thoroughly enjoyable hard boiled detective thriller. I picked this one up thanks to recommendations from Goodreads as I normally do not veer into the straight up mystery genre. To my surprise I had a tough time putting down this noir thriller.Hjortsberg does a fabulous job of giving this story a 1950's feel. He stays true to the noir genre. First person narrations, plenty of dark and gloomy environments, and a hero that is also flawed and more real. The plot can be some what complex, with several good twists and turns. The action though minimal is dispersed enough to keep you interested and excited.I had a blast reading this book and it leads me to wonder if I should venture into the classic hard boiled detective genre. The ending was satisfying and makes me want to read more from Hjortsberg. Highly recommended.

  • Harold
    2019-04-27 01:59

    I was on the phone the other day with a musician friend. He recommended this to me. “You'll love it!" He told me. “It takes place in The City and it's all places you know – PLUS there's a lot of jazz references you'll catch too. I read it in two days.” When I got off the phone I checked Kindle and there it was. I downloaded it and began reading. I read it in two days also.Noir, Jazz, Mystery, Voodoo, The Occult, familiar locale and even a real life character I remember. That's a five star formula for me. Hjortsburg works the hard boiled genre well. Even the characters names seem well chosen and appropriate: Johnny Favorite, Harry Angel, Louis Cyphre. Epiphany Proudfoot, etc, etc. Good stuff. The real life character is a guy that used to stand in front of 1619 Broadway in NYC and swear at people walking by. Al Cooper mentions him in his autobiography Backstage Passes & Backstabbing Bastards. Hjortsburg puts him in for verisimilitude and atmosphere.

  • Apatt
    2019-04-28 21:44

    For my review of this book, please clickhere(still on Goodreads but different edition of the book!)Thank you!

  • Timothy Mayer
    2019-05-12 19:50

    I first read Falling Angel in 1983. Right after the KEW list was published in the old Twilight Zone magazine. Naturally, I went to the public library in search of the books on the list. Wagner being the obscure literature fan, I didn’t find too much. The exception was Falling Angel, which I took home and read over a matter of days.In preparation for this review, I read the book again. I don’t usually re-read books as there’s too much out there I haven’t read. But I felt the passage of 30 years would dull my memory to the point of writing a bad review. I gritted my teeth and went back to the book.Astonishingly, I enjoyed the book more this time than on the first read. Hjortsberg, on his website, talks about why he sat the novel in 1959: these were the most vivid years he could remember oh his hometown of Manhattan, New York City. Manhattan in the 50′s comes alive in these pages. Coney Island, Harlem all these places were written through the eyes of someone was there. It makes for a very vivid background.Harry Angel, private investigator, is working the gumshoe trade in Manhattan, 1959. One day he’s contacted by a powerful lawyer on behalf of a mysterious client. The client, an eloquent gentleman named Louis Cyphre (pay attention to the name), wants Angel to find a missing crooner from the 1930′s: Johnny Fortune. It seems Mr. Cyphre sponsored Fortune’s musical career before WWII until the singer was wounded in the war. He’s been convalescing in a private sanitarium since the incident, barely conscious. Cyphre has discovered Fortune is missing from the place and wants him located.In true hardboiled PI fiction, Harry Angel strolls down the mean streets of Manhattan looking for the missing Fortune. He runs into many people who knew Fortune, but few who remember anything about him. This was before the Net and massive data information on every particular subject. Angel is forced to visit reporters, libraries and consult things known as phone books. It was a different time.The closer he gets to finding Fortune, the more the dead bodies start accumulating First, it’s a doctor at the sanitarium, then more and more. Each know a little bit about why Fortune disappeared, but they won’t talk. And each have an upside down star or inverted pentagram on their person. Soon, Angel begins seeing Mr. Cyphre in his dreams.The book is full of bizarre occult references to New York City. There’s a voodoo ceremony in Central Park. One of the witnesses he consults is a socialite astrologer. And there is the required black mass. I’m not sure what Hjortrsberg was trying to say about the forces of darkness, given the grim ending. My guess is a warning to stay away from things far more powerful and sinister than you can imagine.Of course I saw the 1987 movie adaptation, Angel Heart, when it hit the screen. Having read the book before and after the movie was released, I can say that it is a good adaptation. Mickey Rourke made a good Harry Angel, but the personality of Angle in the book is too Ross MacDonald to get a good visual. On the second read, I kept visualizing Lisa Bonet as Epiphany Proudfoot, Angel’s love interest. I should mention the entire book takes place in Manhattan, unlike the movie which has a side trip to New Orleans.The book isn’t difficult to find and has been reprinted many times. It’s easily the best merger of PI fiction and supernatural literature.

  • Sandy
    2019-04-26 21:01

    At one point in William Hjortsberg's masterful horror novel "Falling Angel," Epiphany Proudfoot, 17-year-old voodoo priestess, tells our detective hero Harry Angel "you sure know a lot about the city." The city in question is the New York of 1959, and if Angel knows a lot about this crazy burg, then Hjortsberg, in the course of this tale, demonstrates that he knows even more. While much has been said of this book's scary elements--its voodoo ceremonies and Black Mass meeting and horrible murders--what impressed me most about this tale is the incredible attention to realistic detail that the author invests it with. I don't know if the author grew up in this town in the '50s or just did a remarkable research job, but the reader really does get the impression that this book (which came out in 1978) was written a few decades earlier. Roosevelt Island is called Welfare Island, quite correctly; street names are given the names they had 45 years ago; subway ads are described that I can dimly recall from my youth at the time; one-cent peanut-vending machines are in the subways (boy, does that bring me back!); and on and on. This is the type of book in which if something is described, you can bet your bottom buck that it really existed. For example, at one point our hero walks into a 42nd St. theatre called Hubert's Museum and Flea Circus. I checked it out; it was really there in the late '50s! You can really learn a lot about the city as it was by reading this fast-moving tale; it's almost like a history lesson wrapped up in a hardboiled voodoo thriller.And what a thriller this is! Even without the incredible attention to detail, this book would be a winner. In it, Harry Angel is hired by Lou Cyphre (get it?) to track down '40s crooner Johnny Favorite, and by the time Angel is through with his quest, we have been treated to all sorts of oddball NYC characters and grisly doings. Many scenes impress, most notably the late-night Central Park voodoo ceremony, the Black Mass in the abandoned subway station, and an off-season walk through the Coney Island midway. The book is justifiably included in Jones' and Newman's excellent overview volume, "Horror: The Hundred Best Books." It works on many levels--as a thriller, as a scarifier, as a Faustian object lesson--and succeeds on all of them. I haven't seen the "Angel Heart" movie that was made from this wonderful book, but can't imagine it being any better. This book deserves all the praise that's been heaped on it. Fortunately, it's still in print, as it well should be. I highly recommend it.

  • Kate
    2019-05-07 00:04

    Harry Angel is a private detective, hired by a mysterious client to find singer, Johnny Favourite. His investigations soon point to a man who was heavily involved in black magic, finding him will be difficult enough without all of Harry's leads turning up dead as one by one they are taken out.I've seen the movie of this book and although there are some similarities they are vastly different. I liked the character of Angel even though he played fast and loose with the law, he was well written and even though some of his actions were morally dubious you were still rooting for him to get to the bottom of the mystery.The first half of the book started really strong but did lose it's way a bit two thirds in, the pacing seemed to slack off and it wasn't quite as engaging making it easy to put down. The final 6-8 chapters soon picked it up again and whilst the ending was no surprise to me, having seen the movie, it was still a great twist. Well worth picking up if you like crime noir mixed with horror.

  • Ken
    2019-05-21 23:47

    I wish I had read this book before seeing the movie "Angel Heart". But, as it has been over 20 years since I have seen the movie, I had forgotten most of the details (except a pretty steamy sex scene with Lisa Bonet (We're not in "Cosby" anymore, Theo! WOW!)). And of course, I remembered the ending. That being said, it did not much detract from how damn good this book is!5 STARS, favorited

  • 11811 (Eleven)
    2019-05-12 19:51

    I thought one of the fundamental aspects of storytelling involved the inclusion of at least a few boring parts. This didn't seem to have any so I'm guessing it wasn't written correctly.Constant pacing and a more than satisfying ending. Highly recommended.4.5

  • Marc-Antoine
    2019-04-27 21:01

    I was completely engrossed with this story, read it in two days, and could not put it down.

  • Nancy Oakes
    2019-04-25 23:54

    I'm a huge fan of noir crime fiction, and someone recommended this book as one I'd like in that genre. And sure enough, it held up as a fine noir novel. There's the private detective, Harold Angel, working out of a crappy little office, dressed sloppily, with stains on his tie; places that people wouldn't go to after dark; a private hospital in the country, characters involved in the dark world of voodoo and black magic etc. etc. And Angel's been hired by someone to find a missing singer who's been in said hospital but has disappeared. With only a few leads, he's off. But the closer I came towards the end, the more I realized that there's something just a wee bit off kilter here and then I got the surprise of my life. Talk about plot twist! So I won't spoil the book for others by going into any further detail here, but I will say that if you like a touch of the supernatural in your fiction, then you've got to add this to your reading stack. Very well done.

  • Lee
    2019-05-07 01:35

    Twenty-five years ago I saw the movie "Angel Heart". I remember it being a very atmospheric film. Twenty-five years later, I read the novel that would become that movie. This is one of the best, noir, hard-boiled gumshoe novel's I've read. Hjortsberg also does a wonderful job on the atmosphere of New York City in the '50's. Throw in the case Harry Angel is working that involves, black magic, voodoo, and some gruesome murders, you have a very different hard-boiled novel. Getting in to this story, was like watching an 'ol B&W mystery on the TCM channel.Might have to check out the movie again....

  • Kimberly
    2019-04-26 23:59

    4.5 stars. Review to come!

  • Tony Gleeson
    2019-04-28 19:01

    Hjortsberg is a difficult author to find on the shelves. IMO he's well worth searching out.After probably twenty years or so, I decided to pick this up and read it again. It stood the test of time quite well-- possibly since I have in the interim read a lot of other authors, his literary allusions might stand out better to my mind now. The tale begins as a first-person narrative by a private detective, told in the now-familiar manner of Chandler and Ross MacDonald. The action takes place over ten days in 1959. A mysterious and very patrician figure hires him to find a once-famous swing-band singer who disappeared during the second World War. And then things get dark, murky, frightful, and diabolically weird.Hjortsberg describes the city of Manhattan circa 1959 in great detail-- as he reveals in his own afterword, based entirely on his own youthful memories, and even going to great pains to research exactly what the weather was like in that period of time. His characters are fully created and colorful (in an odd mix of bright and sludgy tones). By the end of the book he's gone beyond noir. It's hardly a feel-good work but at least for me, it's indelibly etched into my brain. Unfortunately this book's fame has rested largely on the 1987 film that was based upon it, "Angel Heart." Do NOT let your memories of that dreadful piece of nonsense influence your decision whether to read the original material.

  • Jenny Twist
    2019-05-19 20:55

    I tried to get hold of this book when I first saw ‘Angel Heart’, still the best film I have ever seen, but failed to find it. What a joy to discover it is now available for Kindle.Like many of the previous reviewers I thought it might be spoilt for me because I already knew what happened at the end. Not so. The language is stunningly beautiful.How’s this for an opening sentence? ‘It was Friday the thirteenth and yesterday’s snowstorm lingered in the streets like a leftover curse.’Or this for a description? ‘It was easy to imagine those pampered hands gripping a whip. Nero must have had such hands. And Jack the Ripper. It was the hand of emperors and assassins. Languid, yet lethal the cruel, tapered fingers perfect instruments of evil.’And as for my foreknowledge of the plot, the book is sufficiently different from the film for there to be surprises. And I actually found myself unable to put the book down as I approached the end. I knew – I KNEW what would happen and I still couldn’t put it down. I believe this book to be a classic, one of the very best I have ever read. I am now buying William Hjortsberg’s other works and fearing there will not be enough.

  • Randolph Carter
    2019-05-18 19:39

    If you like your horror laced with more than a little private dick noir then Falling Angel is the novel for you. Sucker private eye Harry Angel should have brushed up on his basic satanist symbolism as his "client" Louis Cypher (get it?) has him trying to find out if missing vegetable crooner Johnny Favorite is alive or dead and where he is. See Johnny "owes" something to the not so enigmatic Mr. Cypher.The symbolism was a little heavy handed in this one and the fact that Angel doesn't know what the Hell he's looking at when the reader does stretches the imagination a bit. Given all that, and the fact that the key plot twist is telegraphed a little early, this is one hell of a twisty plot as everyone eventually gets their due. I'm still not sure if I understand the motive and circumstances of each murder, it seems like there are multiple plot holes to me, but I'm a little slow too. Oh, and I'm not sure why Mr. Cypher doesn't just take what is his from the start. What's holding him back? Unless he's not who he says he is (unlikely), in which case the prime motive for the entire novel is shot to hell.Anyway the noir angle is pretty nicely done. Hjortsberg is no Raymond Chandler but the noir stuff is good enough to be a lot of fun. Angel is a real character to the reader. The suspense is good for 90% of the book (until I figured out what was really going on), and still holds out somewhat from there on since you don't know exactly what's going to happen.The book will pretty much depress you as you realize everyone was doomed from the start, but then everyone is playing with something they shouldn't be too. I still enjoyed it immensely. Oh and this was the basis for the movie Angel Heart which pretty much follows the book faithfully.

  • Mark
    2019-04-28 00:56

    Until the last 30 pages, there was nothing in this that made me want to keep reading. I only managed to by taking a long break, and then forcing myself since the book was short. The last 30 pages are okay, but even they aren't enough to recommend this. If you've read any pulp horror mags or reprints from the 1930s, you could take those and combine them w/ Rosemary's Baby, and you'd have this book. The author went overboard in his attempts to remind you that the story is set in the 1950s. If he had chosen his plot direction as carefully as these reminders of when the story was set, he might've had at least a 3-star book. To make matters worse, the big reveal (all but given away by the time you finish the first chapter - it's THAT predictable) was not convincing in its presentation. You knew it was coming, but the author didn't do enough to make you feel satisfied that, Yes, that IS the way it was going to end all along. I give it an extra star for the slightly-more-detailed-than-usual use of voodoo as a plot point. On that subject, it sounds like the author did his homework. Again, if only he had had a more original plot in which to couch his studies.

  • Brenda
    2019-04-29 22:52

    Então, Harry Angel é contratado para investigar sobre o Johnny Favorite se ele tá morto ou vivo. Até aí tudo, nós somos levados a um carrossel interminável de quem era/é esse cantor que mexia com artes negras e que tantas pessoas amavam e odiavam.O Johnny sempre foi excêntrico e uma pessoa que era tão gananciosa desaparecer de uma hora para é estranho. Porém, eu no caso, você chega no final e dá o clique de ele foi levado aquelas pessoas; fazendo ou não parte do desaparecimento dele.O livro em si não dá medo. Mesmo com um título meio sombrio, tudo é bem light.Pode ser uma leitura meio ruim ou algumas pessoas podem desistir pq ele acaba tendo um caso com a própria-ele não sabia e nem se lembrava de nada desde de 43. Não me senti mal, mas mesmo assim estranho, pq vc fica na dúvida quem é quem.Honestamente, não sei se ele mereceu ou não, MAS quem mandou mexer com aquele que não pode ser nomeado?! Fica a dica.

  • Baal Of
    2019-05-07 19:59

    I'm not going to claim this is a great book, but damn I loved it. Noir detective fiction mixed with satanism and a mashup of other supernatural elements, written with economy of purpose, and no happy ending to ruin the bite. Sure, it telegraphs the destination, but the ride is so much fun. There was plenty of gruesome horror, and a nice dose of hard-boiled violence, and the story kept me wanting to read much later than I should have been.