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by Mary Stanton
Berkley, June 2009
304 pages
ISBN: 0425228754

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Going from solving a man's murder and wrongful condemnation to Hell to defending a teenager from petty robbery – of a girl scout's cookie money! – is going from the sublime to the ridiculous. Ordinarily Bree wouldn't even consider touching the case. She has no sympathy for rude, self-absorbed Lindsey Chandler and with witnesses and security camera footage, it' s an open and shut case. Not only did Lindsey assault and rob the little girl, she tried to run her over!

However, few of Bree's friends and family know of her law firm's work defending the deceased. They just see a wonderful opportunity for Bree to establish her name by handling the rich, high-profile Chandlers. But when Bree goes to talk with Lindsey, she gets a brief, troubling contact with Lindsey's father. Her dead father.

Everyone thinks Chandler was a good man who died in a car accident. He says he was murdered and wrongly consigned deep into the circles of Hell. Now Bree has to take the case, because only by dealing with the living will she be able to save the dead.

Based loosely on a true story, ANGEL'S ADVOCATE builds and expands the fascinating potential in DEFENDING ANGELS. (Speaking of DEFENDING ANGELS, I have to correct a mistake from that review. It turns out that Mary Stanton is not new to writing mysteries, only new to writing them under this name.)

Although Stanton continues to draw a veil over the actual Celestial Court case, ANGEL'S ADVOCATE answers many of my questions left over from the first book by widely expanding the background of the court itself. We learn how this modernization of Dante works, who is involved, their motivations (and aggravations), and even how the Last Judgement can make mistakes that require a court of final appeal. Most intriguingly, she also introduces the law firm working the prosecution side: Beazley and Caldecott. And yet she manages the juggling feat of doing all this without sounding preachy or dismissing other religions.

She doesn't stint the actual footwork of solving the mystery either. Because Bree has been investigating supposed accidents, she doesn't fall into the cozy cliché of upstaging or racing the police to the solution. In this case, she is aided (and suspected) by the wary Lieutenant Hunter, who has always had his doubts about that car accident.

After a wobbly but interesting start, the Beaufort and Company series is off on a solid gallop. ANGEL'S ADVOCATE will satisfy readers who want a whodunit and those looking for something beyond the standard cookie-cutter cozy. Stanton has melded legal procedure, medieval philosophy, and theology into a fresh, unique, and ever-expanding world.

Reviewed by Linnea Dodson, May 2009

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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