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The Fifth Angel


The Fifth Angel

Revenge, according to the Chinese proverb, is a lunch best eaten
cold. It can take many forms. A well-known attorney in San
Francisco, after the particularly acrimonious dissolution of his
law partnership, trained his dog to leave a daily deposit each
morning on the steps of his former partner's office. The other end
of the spectrum is documented in Max Alan Collins's THE ROAD TO
PERDITION. Tim Green's latest novel, THE FIFTH ANGEL, definitely
runs toward the Perdition end of the spectrum.

The title refers to the fifth angel of the apocalypse, the angel
who will bring the vial of pain and death to the throne of Satan
and who will pour the contents on Satan's tongue. Jack Ruskin is
the fifth angel and his self-appointed mission is to bring an end
to child molesters who have gotten less than their just deserts.
Ruskin, a respected partner of a prestigious law firm, is a
somewhat unlikely candidate for the position. He is, however,
uniquely if unfortunately qualified: his daughter is slowly
recovering from an abduction and abuse by a molester, whose
sentence amounts to a relative wrist slap. Ruskin snaps and begins
to plan his revenge. He is a former prosecutor and, as a result of
his background, knows exactly what forensics is capable --- and
incapable --- of doing in detecting and proving guilt or

Ruskin embarks on a program to do the job that the courts could not
do and rid the world of criminals like the one who so irrevocably
damaged his daughter. He carefully researches each of his victims
and brutally dispatches them, seemingly leaving no clues. Part of
the brilliance of Ruskin's plan is that he has absolutely no
connection to his victim; he simply identifies them through public
records and enacts his plan in different parts of the country. When
an obnoxious but brilliant detective figures out what Ruskin is
doing and begins to close in on him, Ruskin's mission of vengeance
appears to be over. But not everyone wants him to be caught. And
the reader won't either.

Green paints Ruskin as a wholly sympathetic character and it is
hard to disapprove of Ruskin's mission or methods. And when the
family of an FBI agent, assigned to find Ruskin, is targeted as
well by a molester, the rightness of Ruskin's mission is all but

Green is a member of the James Patterson literary school, combining
exciting plotting with rapid pacing to keep the reader involved and
turning the pages rapidly. THE FIFTH ANGEL is far and away Green's
best work. And, though you'll be sorry to see the book end, its
conclusion is surprisingly satisfying. If you've never read Green
before, THE FIFTH ANGEL is the one to start with.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 21, 2011

The Fifth Angel
by Tim Green

  • Publication Date: January 1, 2004
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Vision
  • ISBN-10: 0446613770
  • ISBN-13: 9780446613774