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Guardian Angel

Stephanie Bedwell-Grime. Telos 201 pages 2003 ISBN: 1-903889-62-6

Now there’s a well-known phrase which states that one should never judge a book by its cover. But when a cover comprises a voluptuous blonde standing before the fires of hell in a silver lamé catsuit, silver thigh length boots with a PDA (sorry, locator) and toy pistol (sorry, interceptor) attached to her utility belt, casually brandishing her halo with that Crelm toothpaste sparkle, it’s difficult not to jump to conclusions.

Porsche Winter has just achieved Guardian Angel status in the bureaucracy of Heaven. But she’s been caught lusting after one of her charges, the ‘bronzed’ and ‘beautiful’ Alex Chalmers. Bad mistake, because a naughty demon from Hell manages to snatch his soul while she’s not looking and make off directly to Hades with it. Now Alex is a stockbroker and everyone knows that a stockbroker with no soul is a terrible thing. In fact, the only thing worse is a lawyer with no soul, oh – lawyers don’t have souls do they? (Only kidding litigious readers, please don’t sue). With each new embezzlement that Alex commits he heads further towards damnation. But his new boss Lucifer has an even more nefarious plan up his satanic sleeve, involving the takeover of Heaven itself [insert demonic cackle here]. The Big Guy and all his archangels are far from impressed by the situation and Porsche has quite a job on her hands if she’s going to fix everything to their satisfaction. It ain’t gonna be easy…

As the cover predicts, we have another feisty supernatural heroine, in the post-Buffy mould, on the side of the good guys, but with a stubborn streak and adept at getting into trouble. Porsche is a half-breed; the daughter of Anne, Patron Saint of Housewives (Heaven) and Charon the Ferryman (Hell) – so she can fight on the side of good, but still give some attitude where required. Guardian Angel is nothing new, is far from challenging and is ultimately not very good. That said the story ticks along at a fair pace; quicker than an express train drop into the fiery pits of Hell. The main problem is that the setting is, frankly, quite disturbing despite the light-hearted romp on offer, and something you really wouldn’t want to buy into. Imagine the scenario: you work in an office until you’re 75 (because you won’t be able to get a pension until then) and then you die. Where do you go? Well, Hell is hot and horrid, as is to be expected but Heaven is, well, a ghastly bureaucratic office with grumpy and overbearing angel managers. It’s all a bit depressing really. Why on earth would you want to spend eternity up there as a reward for a lifetime of pious living down here? It would appear that the best option has to be Purgatory, it’s a bit debauched and at least you can get a drink there.