Dream With Little Angels
by: Michael Hiebert
Michael Hiebert’s debut novel, Dream With Little Angels, is a solid attempt to break into a difficult genre. Mystery readers can be critical and difficult to surprise. This novel did a surprisingly decent job of being eloquent, but failed upon surprising me in terms of plot developments.
While I enjoyed the trip through Alvin, and the small town was quaint enough a setting, the real difficulty for me lay in the authenticity of the author’s research.
I wanted to be impressed with this novel, I promise. But there were too many major police procedural issues wrong that, at some point, I couldn’t suspend my disbelief anymore.
Despite all that, Hiebert has a way with words, often turning out a poetic description of the setting which made me pause in appreciation.
There were some clear similarities to To Kill A Mockingbird in this novel, which appeared to be a mild inspiration for this novel. But there were also a few too many references to the MC making “racist” comments, which I didn’t consider racist at all. Also pervasive was a clear theme of not judging others for their appearances, regardless of skin color, or even their mysterious actions.
It is a coming-of-age novel disguised as a mystery, which didn’t bother me at all. The overarching themes were laudable and enough to give this mystery more depth than the usual genre novel. But I fear that the inexperience of Mr. Hiebert showed through in several spots here. At times, the novel felt forced and inauthentic, just like certain parts of the MC’s eleven-year-old voice. The subject of Dream With Little Angels is dark, the crimes darker, and yet the pages are scattered with light humor and a sense of how easily a town goes on with life when two girls from two families go missing. On some levels, that’s profound: While for the families of victims time stands still, for the rest of the world, time marches on and people forget.
While the book was a quick read and entertaining, I fear that I was too critical to enjoy it as it should be enjoyed. The inaccuracies of police procedure in the climactic scene especially made it difficult for me to see past the details and praise this novel as others have seen fit to do.
- it is difficult to write from a child’s perspective
- research matters
- layers of plot and motivations can be the difference between a genre mystery and something bordering on the literary realm