Archangel Protocol is the first book in the AngelLINK series by Lyda Morehouse (who also writes the Garnet Lacey series under the name Tate Hallaway). This book is followed by Fallen Host, Messiah Node, and Apocalypse Array, which are supposed to work as stand-alone novels even though they are set in the same universe as the first book. Unfortunately, the books in this series are out of print, although new copies can be found at Dreamhaven (which is where I got my own signed copy of the first book at regular price). Lyda Morehouse is currently writing an AngelLINK prequel called Resurrection Code.
Just after the midway point of the 21st century, the destruction produced by the terrible Medusa bomb led to the official movement of America from a democracy to a theocracy. In a world with drive-through churches in which it is a crime not to belong to some sort of organized religion, the presidential candidates are Rabbi-Senator Grey and Reverend-Senator Letourneau, who is claiming to be the second coming of Christ. These claims appear to be justified with the appearance of the LINK-angels, awe-inspiring angelic beings who appear within the cybernetic virtual reality almost everyone is connected to. Since the LINK-angels cause a strong emotional response when sighted–something that is impossible to do through technology–it is believed that they are a miraculous sign from God.
Deidre McMannus went from being a successful detective to a struggling private eye after her investigative partner Daniel publicly murders the Pope. For the offense of her association with Daniel, Deidre is excommunicated from the Catholic church and disconnected from the LINK, meaning it is hard for her to find work and access to credits. While undergoing a particularly bad day due to the loss of a client, Deidre is visited by a drop-dead gorgeous cop in jeans and black leather by the name of Michael Angelucci. Michael would like to enlist Deidre’s aid in exposing the would-be messiah Letourneau and his supportive LINK-angels as a fraud. In return, he promises to give Deidre access to the addictive LINK.
Archangel Protocol is hard to define since it incorporates a diverse blend of genres – I suppose you could call it a cyberpunk mystery romance socio-religious/political adventure. This is part of what made the book stand out to me since anytime I’ve tried reading cyberpunk before, it has bored me. I tried to read Snow Crash since it was supposed to be a fantastic cyberpunk book and gave up eventually. I struggled through Neuromancer and came away from it with the feeling that it was the longest 200 pages I have ever read. These books were all about the tech and the cool hacker characters that I had no attachment whatsoever to. Yet Archangel Protocol had the cyberpunk feel and the technology as a core component of the story without compromising characters or plot. In addition to this, it had a plausible future scenario containing interesting prospects about the complete removal of the separation of politics and state.
Deidre is a sympathetic character – a social pariah because of a crime she did not commit with a sense of left-over Catholic guilt preventing her from simply joining another religion just to become a part of the real world once again. She even finds some comfort in the preacher who rants outside her window every day since “at least someone thinks I’m worth saving.” Other characters are not as fleshed out as Deidre, but I found them likable in spite of not feeling they were particularly deep. Michael seems like a typical nice guy, but I did find his brother Morningstar intriguing when he did show up.
This book is rather fast-paced and getting involved in the story was effortless. It was one of those books that captured my attention in the first chapter and held it all the way to the end, making it very difficult to put down.
The story is told from the first person perspective of Deidre and the end of each chapter has a newspaper article or other relevant interludes such as political interviews or religious essays. Some of these were serious, others were amusing, but they all added to the story being told and did not feel out of place.
The main complaints I have about this book is that some of the romance did seem a bit cheesy (which is hardly unusual) and although I enjoyed Deidre’s character she did seem to be a bit slow at times. I suppose if such unusual events happened to me, I’d be a bit hesitant to believe it as well, but she had all the pieces of the puzzle at times but later would seem to forget what she had known just a little while ago.
Archangel Protocol is a very enjoyable novel combining a fast-paced plot, a fairly well-developed main character, some romance, religious themes, and a fun mystery.