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Falling Angel

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  1,816 ratings  ·  176 reviews
A spellbinding novel of murder, mystery, and the occult, Falling Angel pits a tough New York private eye against the most fearsome adversary a detective ever faced. For Harry Angel, a routine missing-persons case soon turns into a fiendish nightmare of voodoo and black magic, of dizzying peril and violent death. Many people feel that Falling Angel is the greatest American ...more
Hardcover, limited Edition, 302 pages
Published November 1st 2006 by Centipede Press (first published 1978)
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Community Reviews

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4.5 stars!

There are two reasons I bought this book. 1. I bought it at my favorite brick and mortar bookstore, Bunch of Grapes(, because I wanted to contribute in some small way to their beautiful store. 2. Because my friend Marc has been hounding me to read it for a couple of years now. He was right, and I now wish I had read this book sooner.

This is a crime-noir novel, written in the 70's but actually taking place in the early 50's. As such, there are some racist comm
I really liked this book. It starts out as a typical detective yarn (stereotypical even?) that spins itself into an occult tale of voodoo and satanism. The detective, Harry Angel, agrees to search for and find Johnny Favorite, a popular singer that made the circuit prior to World War II.
Angel interviews a cast of characters and the story seems to take on a run of the mill "interview and look for loopholes in the story" plot. The occasional gruesome murder that seems to dog Angel keeps the story
William Hjortsberg's Falling Angel was the basis for the movie Angel Heart, and, Mickey Rourke notwithstanding, it's a mighty fine adaptation. Even if you've seen the movie, the book is well worth a read, but those of you who haven't seen the movie are in for a special treat.

Falling Angel tells the story of Harry Angel: a P.I. hired by a mysterious stranger to find out the whereabouts of 1940's crooner Johnny Favorite. What seems fairly straightforward at first glance becomes more and more compl
Camille Stein

Mickey Rourke / ‘Angel Heart’ (1987) / Alan Parker & William Hjortsberg -

Por muy taimadamente que te acerques a un espejo, tu imagen siempre te mira directamente a los ojos.

—Es un título de abogado —respondí—. Perteneció al fundador de esta agencia. Ya ha muerto.
—¿Sentimental? —farfulló Sterne entre sus apretados labios de ventrílocuo.
—Pone un toque de distinción.
—¿Qué dice? —preguntó el sargento Deimos.
—Lo ignoro. No entiendo el latín.
—De modo que es eso. Latín.
—Eso es.
Tim Mayer
I first read Falling Angel in 1983. Right after the KEW list was published in the old Twilight Zone magazine. Naturally, I went to the public library in search of the books on the list. Wagner being the obscure literature fan, I didn’t find too much. The exception was Falling Angel, which I took home and read over a matter of days.

In preparation for this review, I read the book again. I don’t usually re-read books as there’s too much out there I haven’t read. But I felt the passage of 30 years w
I was on the phone the other day with a musician friend. He recommended this to me. “You'll love it!" He told me. “It takes place in The City and it's all places you know – PLUS there's a lot of jazz references you'll catch too. I read it in two days.”

When I got off the phone I checked Kindle and there it was. I downloaded it and began reading. I read it in two days also.

Noir, Jazz, Mystery, Voodoo, The Occult, familiar locale and even a real life character I remember. That's a five star formul
Ben Loory
on the one hand, i think it's a perfect book. on the other hand, it was ruined a little bit by the fact that i'd already seen the movie angel heart, which was based on it, and so a lot of the power was lost. on the third hand, since so much power was lost simply because i knew what was going to happen, it's probably not a 5-star book (The Maltese Falcon and The Chill, for instance, just get better with each reading/viewing). but on the fourth hand, it's fucking genius, so fuck the third hand. 5 ...more
Twenty-five years ago I saw the movie "Angel Heart". I remember it being a very atmospheric film. Twenty-five years later, I read the novel that would become that movie. This is one of the best, noir, hard-boiled gumshoe novel's I've read. Hjortsberg also does a wonderful job on the atmosphere of New York City in the '50's. Throw in the case Harry Angel is working that involves, black magic, voodoo, and some gruesome murders, you have a very different hard-boiled novel. Getting in to this story, ...more
Who wouldn’t love a supernatural crime noir tale set in the 50’s with voodoo, satanic cults, brutal murders and a hard-boiled detective named Harry Angel. I can see why this one is considered a classic...because it is. Highly Recommended.
At one point in William Hjortsberg's masterful horror novel "Falling Angel," Epiphany Proudfoot, 17-year-old voodoo priestess, tells our detective hero Harry Angel "you sure know a lot about the city." The city in question is the New York of 1959, and if Angel knows a lot about this crazy burg, then Hjortsberg, in the course of this tale, demonstrates that he knows even more. While much has been said of this book's scary elements--its voodoo ceremonies and Black Mass meeting and horrible murders ...more
11811 (Eleven)
I thought one of the fundamental aspects of storytelling involved the inclusion of at least a few boring parts. This didn't seem to have any so I'm guessing it wasn't written correctly.

Constant pacing and a more than satisfying ending. Highly recommended.

I was completely engrossed with this story, read it in two days, and could not put it down.
I wish I had read this book before seeing the movie "Angel Heart". But, as it has been over 20 years since I have seen the movie, I had forgotten most of the details (except a pretty steamy sex scene with Lisa Bonet (We're not in "Cosby" anymore, Theo! WOW!)). And of course, I remembered the ending. That being said, it did not much detract from how damn good this book is!

5 STARS, favorited
4.5 stars. Review to come!
Tony Gleeson
Hjortsberg is a difficult author to find on the shelves. IMO he's well worth searching out.
After probably twenty years or so, I decided to pick this up and read it again. It stood the test of time quite well-- possibly since I have in the interim read a lot of other authors, his literary allusions might stand out better to my mind now. The tale begins as a first-person narrative by a private detective, told in the now-familiar manner of Chandler and Ross MacDonald. The action takes place over
Jenny Twist
I tried to get hold of this book when I first saw ‘Angel Heart’, still the best film I have ever seen, but failed to find it. What a joy to discover it is now available for Kindle.
Like many of the previous reviewers I thought it might be spoilt for me because I already knew what happened at the end. Not so. The language is stunningly beautiful.
How’s this for an opening sentence? ‘It was Friday the thirteenth and yesterday’s snowstorm lingered in the streets like a leftover curse.’
Or this for a d
Randolph Carter
If you like your horror laced with more than a little private dick noir then Falling Angel is the novel for you. Sucker private eye Harry Angel should have brushed up on his basic satanist symbolism as his "client" Louis Cypher (get it?) has him trying to find out if missing vegetable crooner Johnny Favorite is alive or dead and where he is. See Johnny "owes" something to the not so enigmatic Mr. Cypher.

The symbolism was a little heavy handed in this one and the fact that Angel doesn't know what
Andre Farant
Falling Angel was originally published in 1978. So why review it here and now? For one thing, it’s an excellent novel that blends noire-style mystery with Exorcist-level horror. Secondly, the book’s importance is criminally under-appreciated. For instance, a single edition of Falling Angels is available on, and delivery could take up to four months. On, there are apparently no new copies available at all. Just think: know anyone who’s read it? Had you even heard of it?

Fact i
Until the last 30 pages, there was nothing in this that made me want to keep reading. I only managed to by taking a long break, and then forcing myself since the book was short. The last 30 pages are okay, but even they aren't enough to recommend this. If you've read any pulp horror mags or reprints from the 1930s, you could take those and combine them w/ Rosemary's Baby, and you'd have this book.

The author went overboard in his attempts to remind you that the story is set in the 1950s. If he h
Robert Mingee
Excellent detective noir thriller that is also a lot more than that. Private detective Harry Angel takes the case on a missing person who has disappeared from a long-term hospital, and finds himself deep in a web of voodoo, Satan worship and magic. Don't want to say too much for fear of giving too much away and spoiling it.

The writing perfectly captured the gritty crime noir feel, the pacing was perfect, and the plot was well-constructed. The ending completely blindsided me, an dwhile that's not
Kevin O'Keeffe
1987's "Angel Heart" is one of my all-time favorite movies, so I've been meaning to read this novel (which I saw mentioned in the credits the first time I saw it, when it first came out on VHS) since probably 1988, or '89 at the very latest. And now I have finally gotten around to doing so.

I must say, I significantly prefer the storyline from the novel. I like the way the entire story takes place in New York City (instead of a totally unnecessary jaunt to New Orleans, as per the cinematic adapta
Falling Angel is the story of Harry Angel, a private investigator in the Big Apple during the 1950s. Imagine your quintessential private eye—hardnosed, problems with authority, a little bit slovenly. That’s Harry Angel. He fought during WWII in North Africa and has the fake nose and plastic surgery scars to prove. He’s hired by a wealthy businessman named Louis Cypher to track down a once-famous crooner known as Johnny Favorite. Cypher and Favorite had some business deal back when the singer was ...more
Nancy Oakes
I'm a huge fan of noir crime fiction, and someone recommended this book as one I'd like in that genre. And sure enough, it held up as a fine noir novel. There's the private detective, Harold Angel, working out of a crappy little office, dressed sloppily, with stains on his tie; places that people wouldn't go to after dark; a private hospital in the country, characters involved in the dark world of voodoo and black magic etc. etc. And Angel's been hired by someone to find a missing singer who's b ...more
Joanne Parkington
Well, what a cracking good read that was .... at first i struggled with the lingo & obviously didn't recognise the places but after a few chapters the jargon & the landscapes slotted into place and the mounting tension & whole advancing seediness overtook me ... there's a darkness lurking behind the lines & it seeps out of every page. I never write reviews detailing what books are about .. What's the point ?? Thats what the covers do so its a waste of time repeating tag lines... ...more
I don't know why it took me so long to discover this book as I've loved the film version (Angel Heart) since the 80s. At any rate, I'm glad I did! This book has everything a horror/suspense fan could want: violence, murder, missing persons, voodoo, devil worship, and a hell of a twist at the end. Even knowing the ending from watching the movie didn't spoil the book for me.

Hjortsberg's main character, Harry Angel, is a likable, salt of the earth P.I. The author's knowledge of 1950s era New York
I loved the book setting in the middle of the 20th century, I've learned so many new words and phrases, jargon etc. It wasn't scary but for sure it was interesting to follow the whole story. Around 80% of the book it all started to settle down a bit and I started guessing the end. Well I was right, but that didn't spoil anything.
Olga Kowalska (WielkiBuk)
I was fabulously entertained - it was mysterious, scary, intriguing and SO much better than the movie (though Harry will always wear Mickey's face). Devil worship, voodoo, dark powers on the streets of New York . A great read indeed :-)
I enjoyed the movie so much I wanted to read the book. Skip the movie and read the book. Now this is a what a good Noir novel with voodoo and the Devil thrown into the mix is all about.
Alan Baxter
This is the novel that was turned into the movie Angel Heart with Mickey Rourke and Robert De Niro. I've always loved the film but never read the book before. I'm so glad I finally have. An absolutely brilliant read.

There are a few changes made for the movie, most notably the setting. The book is set in New York. It's powerfully written, a real noir private eye yarn, but oozing the supernatural, black magic, voodoo, violence and sex. It's been hailed as one of the best supernatural thrillers of
Aaron Martz
All style, no substance, this book is heavy on atmosphere but thin on plot and runs out of gas after about a hundred pages and starts padding itself with repetitious chase scenes and needless expository dialogue about voodoo. You could do worse if you want to know what it was like to live in New York City in the '50s - all the details, in fact way too many details, are there - but that's not why I read the book. The movie version, Angel Heart, concentrates what is here and tells the story in a m ...more
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William Hjortsberg (b. 1941) is an acclaimed author of novels and screenplays. Born in New York City, he attended college at Dartmouth and spent a year at the Yale School of Drama before leaving to become a writer. For the next few years he lived in the Caribbean and Europe, writing two unpublished novels, the second of which earned him a creative writing fellowship at Stanford University.

When his
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“Normal? Hateful word, normal. No meaning whatsoever.” 3 likes
“The tomb lies at the end of every path. Only the soul is immortal. Guard this treasure well. Your decaying husk is but a temporary vessel on an endless voyage.” 1 likes
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