The Angels Will Not Care
Reviewed: March 16, 2005
By: John Straley
Publisher: Bantam Books
238 pages, $8.99
Itís sad that Cecil Younger canít seem to get his life in order. When we
left the Sitka, Alaska, based detective he was on what appeared to be an
upswing. He hooked up with a strong and lovely woman named Jane Marie and had
concluded a successful, if somewhat messy, case. He was continuing to build up
lots of good karma through his guardianship of Toddy, a retarded young man who
lives with him.
So why does Cecil have to approach what good fortune he has by treating his
life the way he does an airplane ride. Cecil usually gets drunk when he flies.
When we pick up the Younger saga our hero is engaged in a stakeout - at a
chicken coop. This attempt to solve a case of fowl play is a come down, even for
Cecil, and he solution does not actually please his client. So when he arrives
home to find that a slick sounding gentleman wants him to take a cruise, itís
not a difficult decision for him to take.
Jane Marie, a specialist in whale studies, is not about to let this happen
unless she goes along and, of course, Toddy has to come as well. For Cecil, all
this domesticity seems to become an excuse for a shipboard binge once they get
That nice Mr. Sonny Walters didnít hire Cecil just because he thought the
seedy PI could use a vacation. It seems that the passenger lists of the S.S.
Westward have been racking up an unusual mortality rate, and the company which
books the cruises wants to know why. The politics of the situation are complex,
since the ship is owned by a different company, so itís not entirely clear who
is in charge, or who Cecil should report to, always assuming he can keep his act
together long enough to be effective.
Cecil learns that there seem to be a lot of terminally ill passengers on the
Westward, and that the shipís doctor has a bit of a Kevorkian complex, but
none of this explains why the man turns up dead, or why someone should try to
kill him and Jane Marie. There are some lovely scenes in this story. Thereís
Toddyís obsession with memory, time and photography. Thereís Jane Marieís
conversation with a bear. Thereís the whole idea of a secret club that books
cruises in order o die only to have something go wrong.
It makes an interesting story, but also one that Iím no entirely satisfied
with. Cecil is an intelligent man who knows better than to go off the rails the
way he does. There are numerous places in his book where I want to grab him and
box his ears until he starts to listen to his own inner wisdom instead of going
with the flow of his problems.
Annoying as he is, however, Iíll be back for the next book. Iím curious
as to whether fatherhood will actually be his cure.