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Duel for a Dark Angel

Novel by Marc Marais 1975.

Another serial killer novel but with a hefty dose of the occult. The dark angel is the next victim of a particularly nasty Satanic serial killer, and the duel is between the killer and police pathologist Phillippe Ronsard. Each of the nine victims have been top models, contributed one each from Paris' major fashion houses. The exception is the house of B´┐Żleche, which gives Claude Delorme and the Special Branch of the Paris Surete a pretty large clue as to where the killer will strike next. Dr. Ronsard is particularly unhappy as he is engaged to Baleche's top model, Marie-Ange.

Whether or not Marc Marais is French, this is stylistically very European, with plenty of touches that would fit comfortably in a film by Dario Argento. But the structure is similar to that of any other serial killer novel: the good guy trying to stop the bad guy before he strikes again. We start off badly with the wrong good guy, and progress slowly and unsteadily until the halfway point, when the story picks up somewhat. The killer has been caught and identified, and he has died. But Marie-Ange is still in danger, as he can strike from the very grave and Ronsard must seek occult help if he is to save her. This gives a far better angle on the plot and it brings back the interest of the reader. This second half is reminiscent of a continental European Graham Masterton, and it is this half which earns the seven rating. If you pick up Duel for a Dark Angel, perservere and you'll find that it is worth the effort in the end.


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