Book Review: Sympathy for the Devil: An Angela Bivens Thriller
Publication Date: Sep 11, 2001
List Price: $23.00
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann
Borrow from Library
Book Reviewed by Thumper
I wasn’t expecting such an excellent, non-stop reading novel when I embarked on Christopher Chamber’s debut novel, Sympathy For The Devil. I was hoping for a fine beginning of a new mystery series. Sympathy For The Devil surpassed all of my expectations. What I read is a first novel that easily ranks among the best from our current, popular mystery/suspense novelists Patricia Cornwell, James Patterson, John Sanford, Dennis Lehane and a whole host of others that find themselves on the NY Times Bestsellers list with every new installment of their mystery/suspense serials. In Sympathy For The Devil there is a slight difference, the hero is an African American FBI agent who’s smart, fierce, determined, can take a punch, vulnerable, real, and is extremely likable. I’m settling in for what appears to be the beginning of one of the finest mystery/suspense series in the past couple of years.
Sympathy For The Devil is the first book, in what I hope is a very long series that features Angela Bivens, an AA FBI agent. After fighting and winning a sexual discrimination case against the FBI, Angela Bivens is transferred to another FBI department and find herself being assigned to a case that she did not want, the bodies of two teenagers are found dead on the construction site of a government building. In the meantime, Angela has started dating and falling in love with the ’perfect’ man. Angela soon finds herself on the path that could lead to the killer. The bad news is that the path is leading to the brother of her new love interest. What will Angela do? Will she discover the killer before he kills her?
What can I say? I loved the book! Sympathy For The Devil pleasantly surprised me. Sympathy For The Devil is not the first book that I read with the central character being AA FBI agent. The previous books were bad. Real bad. I admit I was somewhat reluctant to read it due to my past history with AA FBI books. I believed I was in for the same old half-baked story with incorrect facts, which ticks me off. I just knew I was about to exclaim the same expressions throughout my reading the book: Let’s do some research? Can we get a little creative? Let’s not insult my intelligence. I kept having flashbacks of the other AA FBI agent novels that didn’t ring my bell at all. With all of these thoughts swirling in my head, I started reading the book anyway. I don’t know what made me pick the book up and read it. Maybe it was the insulin I had just started taking for my newfound diabetes. I don’t know I just went with it. Boy, am I glad I did.
Angela Bivens is such a likable woman. She’s strong, smart, and determined. She had to be in order to become a FBI agent. don’t misunderstand me she’s no goody-two-shoes. She’s not stuck up or unkind. Angela is a woman that I didn’t mind being in her company. That’s important. I don’t know about you, but I can’t cheer, sympathize or have feelings for a hero that I don’t like or can’t stand. I have to root for the good guy. I rooted for Angela. I talked all through the book; ’Naw, baby girl, I wouldn’t do that if I was you.’ or ’Angela will you wake up!’ or ’Shoot that blankety blank. Girl, I would shot the hell out of him!’ *LOL*
Not only was the story tight and the characters well developed, the novel dripped with intelligence. This is not a cartoon, cookie-cutter mystery/suspense novel. A little thinking is involved. A little knowledge of pop culture and literature was used throughout the book. Naturally, I loved this aspect since I knew most of it. I didn’t know everything that Chambers threw at me. My enjoyment of the book wasn’t dampened from my lack of knowledge. I appreciate that. Chambers walked a fine line by writing a story with intelligence while at the same time not having a condescending overtone surrounding the story.
Sympathy For The Devil is a fast paced, well-crafted mystery/suspense tale that has its feet planted in reality, starring a likable AA character that I didn’t mind cheering. I have a hard time believing that Sympathy For The Devil is Chambers first novel. It’s not often that a first time author hit’s a bulls-eye with his first book that instantly places him on the same plateau as Cornwell, Patterson, et al. Carey, you need to go ahead and buy Miss Ann a copy of this book. I don’t want to have to call her up on the phone, but I will for this one. 🙂