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How Like an Angel

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  159 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Private detective Joe Quinn gambles. That's how he's lost his job, car, clothes, and girlfriend; it's why he's hitchhiking from Reno to California. At The Tower, a back-country compound housing a religious cult, Quinn gambles again, when Sister Blessing asks him to locate one Patrick O'Gorman. It proves to be no easy task: O'Gorman's dead - and, Quinn wagers, not so accide ...more
Paperback, 278 pages
Published January 23rd 2000 by Carroll & Graf (first published 1962)
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Average rating 4.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  159 ratings  ·  26 reviews

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Jul 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
If you like Patricia Highsmith, you'll LOVE Millar. Yes. She is THAT good. That good and with an extra twist she saves for the very, very end.

I have recently discovered her and am in the process of reading very book of hers I can find. Once you read one of her books, you will be, too.
Sep 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
The more I read the books of Margaret Millar, the more I appreciate and enjoy her writing. How Like an Angel was an excellent mystery. It starts off with Joe Quinn, a private investigator, who has lost his money gambling in Vegas, getting a ride to a town in Southern California, to try and get some money from a friend. He is dropped near a religious commune and, from this point, the mystery begins. Quinn is paid by one of the members, Sister Blessed try and locate Patrick O'Gorman. He doesn't kn ...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Feb 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Millar's novel 'Beast In view' is deservedly acclaimed as a mystery classic. This one's not far behind. It's the story of a down-and-out PI with a gambling problem who winds up taking shelter in a community of religious fanatics and accepting an assignment that leads him into a convoluted mystery where the trail seems to have run cold but a little bit of digging around unearth all sorts of possibilities. A well told, complex and engaging mystery with many memorable passages. 'Beast In View' is n ...more
Apr 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
For the most part, an enjoyable PI yarn set in 1960s California. I had a litte trouble following the odd members' names of the religious cult, and the plot twists at least once threw me. But the prose is first-rate, the characters full-fledged. Many of her characters are a little off-center, but never other-the-top, a vast difference some writers today don't seem to get, or care about. There's something to be said for realistic and credible. This author does it very well. ...more
Lawrence FitzGerald
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
An immersive read, the gold standard by which every novel is measured. How did Margaret Millar do it?

The usual: story, world building, characterization, prose style and theme.

There is the SoCal PI trope. The PI gets a case he doesn't understand from a mystery client. He presses forward out of a sense of justice. He interviews the kooks, the normal, and the cynical to get his clues and solve all of the mysteries. Maybe it started with Chandler and they still write them today. The SoCal PI trope w
Mar 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I tend not to read too many mysteries. Too often I find the plot and characters merely window dressing, and the central driving force of the plot a mystery or "puzzle" that is largely an intellectual exercise for the reader. I prefer crime fiction in which there is no real mystery, and instead of being a puzzle to be solved, the plot is a labyrinth in which characters struggle to reach the end.

Margaret Millar's How Like an Angel was a great reminder that any genre can be good when it is done wel
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
Having enjoyed A Stranger in My Grave, I was disappointed here. Despite the 'hook' of an isolated extreme religious sect, the story never really took off. ...more
Wyckliffe Howland
May 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Heard only recently of Margaret Millar, and this is my first book. I really enjoyed it and Millar is, unquestionably a gifted writer. I hate to admit this, but I didn't get the ending. I'll try another soon because she is compelling. ...more
Sep 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Margaret Millar is one of my new finds. Unfortunately nearly all of her work is out of print and she is not available as an e-book, making her a little obscure. She shouldn't be. She was one of the most famous mystery writers of the 1940s & 1950s (mainly) & very well known for her surprise endings. And that's all I can say! no, really! I can't say any more! She is fun. She writes a great nice descriptive depth to her characters. ...more
Mar 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A superb mystery from Margaret Millar, better known for Beast In View. I liked this one even better. It has a perfectly constructed plot, believable characters and plenty of suspense. Need more specifics? There's a shabby but honest ex PI, a creepy cult in a creepy cult tower, a snappy widow whose husband may or may not have been murdered, and dames who disguise themselves in turbans and glasses when they go sleuthing. ...more
Jan 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This one does NOT disappoint. A must-read for any reader of detective or hardboiled fiction.
Feb 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Closer to four and a half. The gay blackmail macguffin was very dated but I like how it diverted into a really interesting climax.
May 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, noir
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, modern
How Like an Angel might have suffered a little for being left at home while I went on a half-month vacation, but overall another solid entry in the Margaret Millar canon. The theme of utopian yearning, of striving for something else is a thread connecting the otherwise scattered players. SoCal is the land of dreams, and these characters are dreamers: a PI who's washed out of the casinos, a teenage girl who dreams of glamour, a cult follower trying to live up to the tenet of poverty and self-sacr ...more
Oct 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Well plotted if somewhat confusing story. I wasn't very engaged with the cast of characters, but I continued reading because I am reading through the works of Margaret Millar, a mid-century author whom I recently discovered. Part of the book takes place in a religious cult and this part seems somewhat tongue in cheek. While the plot makes sense, so much sense that before the book was over I figured out the situation (a big twist that I saw coming, as there are some crumbs to follow). However, mi ...more
Mary Ellen
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I remain surprised that I am still plowing through the Margaret Millar series, but there is an element of mystery that keeps me reading. Typically there are a few dated techniques: a major character as a helpless women who will fall in love with the flawed detective (in this case a gambler), a myriad of subplots that will eventually link together, dialogue filled with italicized mind wanderings of the narrative detective, a surprising unwinding at the end. I was taken aback that Patrick O'Gorman ...more
Jack Heath
Synopsis: PI Joe Quinn is a gambler. That's why he's hitchhiking when he meets Sister Blessing. Can he locate Pat O'Gorman? He turns out to be dead. ...more
Dec 03, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
کتاب بدی نیست، جذابیت هایی هم داره که بیشتر در مورد اون جامعۀ مذهبی ساکن برج خوب از آب دراومده. ولی به عنوان یک رمان پلیسی- کارآگاهی فکر نکنم خیلی اثر برجسته‌ای باشه. گره گشایی به تدریج صورت می‌گیره درست، ولی آخرش صد تا سوال برای خواننده می‌ذاره، که این یارو چرا همچین کرد (نمی گم که داستان لو نره)
یه چیزی هم راجع به این مجموعۀ دایرۀ هفتم انتشارات نیلوفر بگم. من از این مجموعه دو تا کتاب خوندم تا حالا - این کتاب و "زنانه نیست"- یا دو مترجم متفاوت، و هر دو واقعاً نیاز به ویرایش جدی دارند. بخشهایی جا
Apr 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
How Like An Angel is dark and darkly funny, tightly plotted and populated with characters so memorable that they need no more than one or two lines to become real. Like the best mysteries, the ending is so perfect that you know it couldn’t have ended any other way.
Read the rest of my review at Judging the Books...
Oct 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another excellent novel of psychological suspense and mystery from the under-appreciated Margaret Millar. This is the one with the religious cult. Plot, character, dialogue, setting...everything working together to add up to a fine piece of 60's genre fiction. ...more
Aug 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very good mystery novel. Interesting characters and a compelling read.
Jun 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
If you like old time mysteries, this is a great book. I'll definitely look for others by Millar! ...more
Jun 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An article in a recent mystery magazine stated that How Like an Angel was the perfectly-written mystery. Don't know if it's perfect, but it's pretty darned close. ...more
Jan 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
You know how when you find an author you like, you have to read everything? I've found that after awhile you need to take a break, until now. ...more
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Aug 31, 2018
Claire Dub
rated it it was amazing
Sep 25, 2020
Pageaut Charlotte
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Feb 14, 2019
Sarah Avis
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Oct 31, 2017
Mary Sperduti
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Jan 30, 2017
Ken Wingenbach
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Margaret Ellis Millar (née Sturm) was an American-Canadian mystery and suspense writer. Born in Kitchener, Ontario, she was educated there and in Toronto. She moved to the United States after marrying Kenneth Millar (better known under the pen name Ross Macdonald). They resided for decades in the city of Santa Barbara, which was often utilized as a locale in her later novels under the pseudonyms o ...more

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