Picks and Pans Review: The Avenging Angel

updated 02/28/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/28/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Rex Burns

A Denver, Colo. detective is investigating a killing. The victim is found with a drawing of an angel in his hand. Then the detective becomes involved in a war between violent religious fanatics who have many wives and children and talk about God all the time. There is also some much-sought-after land, but why is the dusty acreage worth killing for? All these elements are brought together in a conclusion that is a bloody, rip-roaring shoot-out worthy of the Old West. The author, who teaches American literature at the University of Colorado in Denver, is very slick at this sort of genre novel. This is his fifth one featuring detective Gabe Wager, a dedicated cop Burns can describe this way: "He'd done what he could to establish order, and if the law was chaotic, that was somebody else's problem. To hell with it." (Viking, $12.50)

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