The Angel Makers

Written by Jessica Gregson
Review by Monica E. Spence

In 1914, Sari is an intelligent young woman living in a rural Hungarian village; but like many others, she finds happiness with another man when her fiancé goes off to war. When her fiancé returns, angry and abusive, she fears for her life. Sari decides to kill him. Her success encourages others who beg for Sari’s help.

Béla grew up in a house with a cook who told the child a tale of brutal backwoods expediency. “We make angels,” the peasant had said. The adult Béla, a policeman, remembers this when an old woman walks miles to report a heinous crime. Her son and others in her remote village have been poisoned, she says, and someone is trying to poison her. Béla and his partner are dispatched to investigate what sounds like a series of deaths.

The villagers are ignorant and backward, but there’s no evidence of any crime. Béla decides the old woman was senile – or mad – after Sari guides the policemen around the village. Sari is bright and cooperative and so unlike her neighbors; she steers the policemen to people willing to talk. Béla relies on her help and then her company. Beguiled, he stays on longer than planned, letting his assistant continue the interviews.

Suddenly the case splits wide open. Incriminating evidence is found. Murderers must be brought to justice, and the guilty, hanged for their crimes. Béla‘s duty is clear – until Sari is implicated. How can he arrest her? How can he let her go? We question Béla’s judgment – but who are we to say where the right lies?

Gregson’s unsettling novel may not be to everyone’s taste but, based on a true story, it is unforgettable.