Saturday, June 1, 2002

Angel of Mercy: Kit Shannon in 1904

Tracie Peterson and James Scott Bell's "Shannon Saga" series concludes with the third book, Angel of Mercy, published this June. Angel of Mercy finds Kit Shannon embroiled in yet another high-profile murder case, this time during the summer of 1904. Officer Ed Hanratty, one of the bad guys from the previous book (Angels Flight) is accused of murder, and insists that only Kit Shannon can represent him. Kit reluctantly takes the case, unconvinced of her client's innocence, but determined to see justice done and a fair hearing for her client. As always, the city's influential are against her and pressure her to stop the case.

The main characters from previous books are still here, plus a few new fictional as well as historical characters. William Randolph Hearst, successful newspaper tycoon and now presidential hopeful, has decided to compete against the Los Angeles Times with his new paper, the Examiner, and use his yellow journalism to influence politics in another city. President Teddy Roosevelt even makes a few visits to LA, and Kit soon meets both famous men. Clarence Darrow (see review of Angels Flight) makes a brief appearance at the beginning, in a debate arranged in the previous book between him, Kit Shannon, and liberal Christian Dr. Lazarus. Kit's friend and mentor Earl Rogers, a renowned lawyer from the time, is back as well to encourage Kit and even defend her at court occasionally.

Among the fictional characters, Tom Phelps now works for William Randolph Hearst. Elinor Wynn, previously engaged to Ted Fox, now strives for revenge against Kit Shannon. Ted Fox returns as well, still sorting through his emotional problems. Ted and Kit's feelings for each other, and Ted's struggle with his disability (in the previous book he lost a leg) provide interesting subplots, though fans realize by now that somehow Ted and Kit will get together in the end. Aunt Freddy once again looks to spiritualists and attaches herself to a money-grubbing charlatan, and Kit feels she must protect her aunt. Enemy Heath Sloate resurfaces from the first book (City of Angels), just as sleazy and controlling as ever, and working behind the scenes to destroy Kit Shannon. Among such a hectic and troublesome life, Kit has a few friends, such as her Mexican friend Corazon. Corazon's role is expanded as she shows detective skills and becomes Kit's investigator / detective.

Like the first two books in the "Shannon Saga," the storyline is exciting and suspenseful, a good page-turner with a final rousing trial scene full of surprises. At a little over 250 pages, Angel of Mercy is much shorter than the first two books (both of which had 380 pages). Still, this book pulls-off another exciting read while wrapping up the loose ends of the ongoing sub-plots between the characters for the "Shannon Saga" conclusion.

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