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Guardian Angel

by Stephanie Bedwell-Grime

(Telos Publishing, 9.99, 201 pages, paperback, published 2003.)

"Porsche Winter has a problem ... as a fully fledged guardian angel, she is charged with the safety of her clients at all times. But you take your eye off the monitor for just one moment and the Devil is in there with a demon snatching the soul from one of your clients. But not just any client! Dreamboat and all round lust object Alex Chalmers..."

So goes the publicity blurb for the first in cover scana proposed series of novels staring Guardian Angel Porsche Winter. Porsche is an up front and feisty character who in this first story gets literally entangled with the Devil, when she loses the chase for a soul, and is suitably demoted by her boss, none other than Gabriel himself. Finding herself working in the day to day dullness of the dream factory, she manages to contact Alex Chalmers through his dreams and the chase is on to retrieve his soul from the clutches of Lucifer.

Throughout this story we are introduced to various characters who will undoubtedly feature in the life of Porsche in the future, the most notable being the legendary cupid, who is the small cherubic fun loving best friend of Porsche, always there to advise and share a drink with our heroine.

Stephanie Bedwell-Grime takes us into the believable world of the hereafter where Heaven and Hell are constantly at each other's throats for dominance in the cut and thrust world of the afterlife. Heaven and Hell are run as businesses, the whole place is run by accountants and civil servants; when the Devil gets an upper hand, he manages to assert his authority over Heaven, getting a controlling seat on the board.

Bedwell-Grime paints vivid pictures with her pen. We can visualise the three stages of the hereafter, Heaven, The Netherworld and Hell, with sideshoots such as the Purgatory bar thrown in for good measure. Also the River Styx is brought vividly to life, where Porsche's father works as the ferryman and his dog Cerberus stands guard by the mouth of the Acheron. Wonderful stuff.

I liked this book very much, I found myself drawn into this beautifully realised world, the characters all leap off the page as fully drawn three dimensional figures with substance. The tale is told at a cracking pace, and by the end of the book I was left gasping for breath and eager for more. The story concludes in such a way that one is left in no doubt of the fun and adventure that Porsche and her cast of characters have ahead of her. To say any more would spoil a rather fun plot twist.

I suspect that the author is a fan of the Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum books as Miss Winter shares a few of Miss Plum's virtues and characteristics. Like Plum, Winter has the potential to be around for a long time to come. All the settings are in place for a terrific series of novels.

Review by Russell Cook.

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