Sidney Sheldon is listed as the seventh best selling fiction writer ever, and none of his books have been previously reviewed in this blog – what a significant omission. After a prolific career writing musicals, screenplays, and television shows (which earned him a Tony Award and an Oscar, and a nomination for an Emmy), he turned to fiction writing after he turned 50. He was subsequently nominated for an Edgar Award for his first novel in 1970, The Naked Face. He wrote 18 novels between 1970 and 2004, and he died in 2007. Rage of Angels was his fifth novel, published in 1980 and was one of his most famous works.
Rage of Angels is a classic story about love and power. Jennifer Parker was a newly minted attorney who was hired by the Robert Di Silva, the District Attorney for the County of New York. She was thrust into the trial that Di Silva had long waited for. She was only there as an errand runner, a gofer. Michael Moretti was the head of the most powerful Mafia family in New York, and Di Silva finally had an informant that would put Moretti away for life. After a morning on the witness stand when Camillo Stela ratted out Moretti, there was a lunch break before the cross examination could occur. In the courtroom, a man seemed to break away from the group with Di Silva and handed Parker an envelope for Stela with instructions that it contained information from Di Silva that he wanted Stela to review before the start of the afternoon session. She was too trusting and was only able to get the envelope to Stela because she was with the DA, and when Stela opened it, he found a dead cannery. The message was clear, that Stela was not safe anywhere, and he refused to submit to cross examination. A mistrial was declared and Moretti was free. Di Silva was furious and he assumed Parker had been paid off, not that she was simply too naïve to have known better. His attempt to get her disbarred was unsuccessful, only because of the honest investigation of another rising legal star, Adam Warner. So she began her legal career at the lowest level possible since no firm would hire her. But, she was a talented and resourceful woman, and she would gradually rise to prominence, time and again successfully defending people against Di Silva who worked tirelessly to find a way to get her.
Meanwhile, Warner was on his way to become Senator, and eventually President, but he was attracted to Parker. The problem was that he was married. Moretti also wanted to have a relationship with her, but she would have nothing to do with him, at first. Di Silva continued his long career as New York’s DA. This was a story of their intertwined lives. It’s a fast paced book, very difficult to put down. It depicted the depth to which the Mafia had infiltrated all aspects of life in New York.
In some ways, the story is a bit dated, and perhaps that’s because we have all been exposed to so much of Sheldon’s work: ten movies including Easter Parade, Annie Get Your Gun; nine television shows including The Patty Duke Show, I Dream of Jeannie; six Broadway plays; and 18 novels. For the most part, I was able to anticipate the plot as it unfolded although I was surprised to what happened to some of the main characters. Still, the character development was skillful. The booked grabbed me and I would gladly read another Sidney Sheldon book. If had been reading this much fiction during the 70s and 80s, I surely would have read all of his books.