Fourteen-year-old Angel Dailey has spent much of her life watching her neglectful mother fall into the arms of abusive men: men like Scotty who beat women, poach desert wildlife and traffic drugs. Then one day, Angel wakes up and finds her mother’s body in a shallow grave, not far from the rundown trailer they share with Scotty.

The only witness to Scotty’s crime, Angel escapes into the Southwestern desert with no survival gear. Scared to contact the police for fear of being put into foster care, Angel turns to a tight-knit group of Hispanic families who risk their own safety to help her. They offer her clothing and protection, but after years of neglect and abuse, Angel can’t seem to overcome her inability to trust. Feeling alone and frightened, she puts a plan into action to trap Scotty, but at what cost?

Charlie Price, winner of the 2011 Edgar Allan Poe Award for his young adult novel The Interrogation of Gabriel James, deftly utilizes the Southwestern desert with its harsh conditions and isolation to create an inescapable hell. As Angel flees, the reader is constantly aware of her lack of resources—including water and food, as well as trustworthy law enforcement—and is just waiting for Scotty to find her. As Angel checks over her shoulder, so does the reader. In Scotty, Price has created a sadistic villain whose lack of conscience and unstoppable desire to see Angel dead build incredible tension and apprehension. Desert Angel is a tense, chilling tale about murder, revenge and trust—a nail-biter for sure.

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