Sunday, July 7, 2013

Dream with Little Angels

Michael Hiebert
Dream with Little Angels

Kensington, 2013

The small town of Alvin, Alabama, 1987. The narrator of the story, the 11-year-old Abe, lives with his mother Leah Teal, a local police detective, and his older sister Carry, has a talkative friend Dewey, and a tendency to watch the neighbors. Strange neighbor is set aside when a 14-year-old girl, a student in a parallel class with Leah Teal’s daughter Carry, is missing. One day, after getting off the school bus, Mary Ann Dailey has not come home. Mother after a few hours is raising hell, alarming the police and all the inhabitants of the town. Teal and her colleagues are beginning to find the girl among her friends, hoping that Dailey just is just staying at a frind’s house. But on the first day the girl was not found.

Leah Teal takes the disappearance of Mary Ann Dailey close to heart. 12 years ago, when Teal was still new in the force, in Alvin also a teenage girl 13-year-old Ruby Mae Vickers had gone missing. The police worked hard, looking for Vickers, but found her only three months later. The body of a girl who was tortured and raped, was found by a local farmer near his home under a willow tree near the swamps. The murder remained unsolved, and Teal could not forgive hermself for the death of Ruby Mae.

After a while, Abe and his friend on the bike ride to a nearby town, and there meet black girl Tiffany Yates. She eats ice cream and chats with the boys. After talking to Tiffany, Abe and Dewey go back, and three hours later the girl's mother calls the police and reports the disappearance of her daughter.

Story that takes place in the South, is written by a Canadian Hiebert, and this story is not new: the killing of children by unknown perp, with background of racism and emotional tension throughout the city. Hiebert immediately determines the range of three suspects, although police can not find any evidence until near the end. Although the novel presents no major surprises, the intrigue is here, though not as close to a really nail-biting excitement.

The author’s diligent style and his storyteller’s talent is not supported by convincing describing of the life of the South and the cast of characters. Hiebert writes that Leah Teal works without sleep searching for the girl and\or her killer, but what she was doing, if there wasn’t any suspects and the obvious places have not been checked, is unclear. In addition, the presence of a detective in the town like Alvin, is doubtful. It is most likely that a number of detectives from the state capital would have been called for help. Helpless of Leah has confirmed that the case for her is actually solved by the 11-year-old child. That, in turn, is also unlikely.

Little Abe, of course, is smart for his age, but it is unlikely he would be able to unravel the complex case. Hiebert is trying to make him more adult, but even then, the boy seeing the dead bodies is yet not an evidence of that the child will be smarter than the team of experts. Hiebert comfortably made the narrator the son of the chief investigator, allowing the boy to overhear adult conversations at the police station. Though Abe is a sympathetic character, sharp-witted and kind boy, his speech is full of opposites. He spoeaks as a collega graduate, and then he speaks with the southern dialect and sounds like a uneducated child.

With dialogue here, there are too many inconsistencies. Characters speak the literary language, then suddenly begin to swallow the words and syllables, but so the whole laguage here can be called pseudosouth.

Against the background of the investigation sometimes racial issue flickers, and Hiebert handles this issue timidly. Every now and then we read the word "racist", but then, especially in the South, this word was used rarely and has yet become fashionable. And how is posible to be talking about racism, when in the book the author have never used the word "nigger" or “Negro”. It’s laughable.

Quite an interesting story here is ruined by a not credible background. And the atmosphere is sometimes more important than the plot.

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