Fallen Angel concerns mysterious past events surrounding the Temple family, who return to their Portuguese villa for a final holiday after the death of their family patriarch, Max. The story is set in both the present day and in 2002, the year of Niamh Temple’s disappearance. Niamh went missing as a young child and there are echoes here of the Madeline McCann case.
Speculation is rife amongst the characters in the story as to what actually happened to the little girl. There are moments in the book where almost everyone who was present in 2002 is a suspect. Matriarch Celia Temple is an extremely narcissistic character. She used to be an actress on British television in the 1970s and still sees herself exactly as she was then. Her husband Max was also an unlikeable character, a psychology professor who became famous by appearing on a TV show debate debunking conspiracy theories.
The Temple’s have three grown up children. Marion the eldest is the kindest but is viewed as being too homely and weak by her mother. She is married to Ken, a plumber who is handsome but who Celia feels is beneath her socially. Robbyn the son, is also seen as a disappointment. He is a bit of a drifter and is easily taken advantage of by other people. Ivy, the youngest of the Temple clan has a successful career in PR and is distant and aloof with her family. Despite her career success, Celia seems to have a strong dislike to Ivy in particular that is out of proportion with her general dislike of her children overall.
Into this toxic miasma, the present day situation introduces: Kirsten, the new young wife of villa neighbour Vince and their son baby Arron. Accompanying them is Amanda, a Canadian Au Pair. Amanda serves as a detective who starts to look into the past to see what really happened in 2002.
I think that the setting of this Mediterranean paradise (that is really rotten to the core because of the people involved), is excellent and compellingly written. There are many twists and turns to the narrative and it went in a direction that I did not expect and could not foresee which is a great sign of a very strong psychological thriller. I recommend that you pick up this book as a chilling holiday read.