Saturday, February 24, 2018

Book Review: 'An Angel Healed' by Annalisa Russo

Midwestern author Annalisa Russo shares a rather important biographical bit of information considering the topic of her novel. She grew up in an overpopulated first-generation Italian family in the suburbs of Chicago. This is important because it establishes her credibility in writing the Cavelli Angel Saga series that chronicles the lives of Italian immigrants in the 1920's. Her first novel, RAGS TO RICHES, won her an immediate devoted audience and hence the anticipation as she releases the Cavelli Angel Saga.

One of the many aspects that make Annalisa's books click is her personal information she hares before opening the current story: `One of my favorite characters of the Cavelli Angel Saga is Private Anthony Cavelli, a specter who resides in Bellaluna, the Cavelli family ancestral home. For my story, Bellaluna is built on the site of the Fort Dearborn Massacre, where on August 15, 1812, fifty-four soldiers, twelve militia, nine women, and eighteen children were attacked by five hundred Potawatomi warriors after a bitter dispute with the fort's captain, Nathan Heald. After the battle, the fort was burned to the ground and survivors were taken prisoner by the Potawatomi. Two hundred years ago the site of Fort Dearborn was considered "Illinois Territory" but now is modern-day downtown Chicago. In the early 1980s, bones unearthed by a construction company, believed to be those from the massacre, were carbon dated to the time period, and then removed and buried elsewhere. Soon afterwards, people began to report sightings of semi-transparent figures dressed in pioneer clothing and military uniforms wandering in a field north of 16th Street and Indiana. Some of the figures seemed to be running haphazardly or moving in slow motion, mouths open in silent screams. The sightings have continued to this day. In 2009, a new park was created at 18th Street and Calumet Avenue to honor those who died in the Battle of Fort Dearborn. But I wonder, as do the members of the Cavelli family, if the poor souls who lost their lives on that fateful day have ever been able to rest in peace.' When an author speaks to her readers in that way, the interest in what is to follow is established.

Annalisa provides enough information in her synopsis to tie us in with the original book of the series: `Archaeologist Raphael Cavelli wonders why he isn't in some watering hole in Peru drinking a lukewarm cerveza next to a bosomy blonde. Instead, back in Chicago trying to stay one step ahead of the law for stealing the archaeological find of the century, he bumps, literally, into the reason he left seven years ago--the girl he traveled halfway around the globe to forget. Hope Macklin, sob sister/obituary writer for The Spectator, wangles the assignment to cover a high society wedding. If she does well, it means a promotion and a raise -- but the heiress's bothersome brother remembers her from St. Rose's Home for the Friendless, a time she'd rather forget. She's on the lam, so she can't afford to draw attention to herself, even for a carelessly handsome man. Fate throws Rafe and Hope together again just in time to square off with the faceless opponent doggedly threatening them. Will they risk everything for what matters most?'

Romantic mystery fans will absorb the atmosphere and the genuine feeling of place and characters that are so evident in Annalisa's skilled hands. Grady Harp, September 15

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.