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Wicked Angel by Taylor Caldwell

Wicked Angel by Taylor Caldwell is a suspenseful and intriguing magnum opus beginning from the very first page; there are no dull moments in the Saint household. Caldwell has a brilliant gift for the creation of characters, as all the characters were so full of life. Angelo Saint was described as the prototypical psychopath that is, “born without a soul”.

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An overindulged only child, Angelo has his devoted mother wrapped around his fingers while his more practical father Mark, looks with horrified wonder from the sidelines.

Angelo intensely detests his maternal Aunt Alice, who recognizes his social disorder from the start. At the opening of the story, Angelo, then 4, expresses deep rage at Alice and this rage manifested in bouts of wetting accidents. He then attacks Alice by smashing the contents of her purse; he destroys her sunglasses; used her handkerchief as toilet paper and flush some of her money down the toilet. His loving, but foolish mother Katherine condones his actions by insisting it was just a childish prank.

Mark, however, punishes Angelo. Over the years, Angelo’s cruelties become more subtle and clever. At 6, he discreetly kills a pet dog, which Alice discovers when she visits her sister’s family at their summer place in 1959; he frightens away the birds and woodland creatures, viewing them as “weak enemies”, and he nearly kills Alice by pushing her over a cliff. Luckily, she is saved, but does not testify against her nephew.

Angelo is described as physically large for his age, stunning in appearance and mentally gifted. At 10, he nearly poisons a housekeeper because she senses he is not the “Angel Saint”, as Katherine calls him; he hounds a classmate out of his prestigious prep school; he pit people against one another and broke a teacher’s arm “accidentally” during a school football game. He uses charm to get out of every difficulty and has all, but these few, whom he has hurt, fooled.

When Katherine becomes pregnant with a second child in 1963, she senses it is wise not to tell Angelo. He pesters her for information about why she is going to the doctor and once he discovers the secret, kills the unborn child, Katherine, and later perishes. Even his death is bizarre – he trips down a flight of steps, only to land his head on the marble floor below. Katherine dies in the hospital, confiding to Alice that she really knew what an evil son she truly had.