ANGEL OF THE DARK BY SIDNEY SHELDON AND TILLY BAGSHAWE
CLAIMER: If you haven’t read the book Angel of the Dark, I suggest you do so before reading the article further. There, obviously, are spoilers and my interpretation of an explanation for the proceedings in the book, especially that frustratingly incomplete ending. Do NOT blame me if it ruins the end for you. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. Seriously. Stop reading this. And go read the book.
Angel of the Dark. This book was nestling in a heap of books at a friend’s place when my eyes fell on it. The cover didn’t interest me one bit, to be honest. Neither did the blurb in the back. I don’t really know what caught my attention, but something did. And boy, am I glad it did.
When I started reading the book, I sensed something very different from the usual crime-thriller genre of books I enjoy reading. It wasn’t a good different or a bad different. It was just…unique.
And then, I read the last few chapters.
Now, those stubborn lugs that haven’t read the book and are still reading this; to hell with you. I wrote a y’all a claimer, dang it.
The story of Sofia Basta (it’s easier to refer to her by this name as it also helps with my explanation further) and Frances Mancini sounds about as romantic as a cute porcupine hugging a little girl.
It’s less-than-satisfactory left many avid readers thirsty for an explanation or a sequel. But, obviously, nothing followed.
Here is my interpretation of this story. This is entirely based on the fact that we have never had a real look into Sophie’s mind. Her POV has never been clear, concise, true.
Sophie was mentally unstable. She had chanced upon the story of Mirriam in her childhood. The unhappy scenarios surrounding her had twisted her mind in a way that she started preferring Mirriam’s world to hers to such an extent, that she started believing that she was a part of Mirriam’s romantic lineage. That is when she cooked up the name Sofia Basta.
Because of her unhappy childhood and absent parents, she harbored a certain hate towards parents who left their kids. Also, because of sexual assaults on her person from a very early age, men were a complete no-no in her mind. That is also where her trust issues took root.
A mastermind with an idle schedule, she started looking for a scape goat to score revenge for all the times she was violated. Frances Mancini proved to be one. However, Frances’s own dark, psychopathic needs found a medium and a host in Sofia, and started acting out, which in turn caused the twisted balance of their relationship to shift and get disrupted. Sofia’s dormant side took charge, leaving her physically defenseless against Frances, who was now growing increasingly violent with time.
Although she cowered in fear around Frances, her mind ran faster than ever; conspiring, planning, researching, staying one step ahead of Frances and doing everything right to the final step, where she moved aside to let Frances’s psychopathic tendencies take charge. That is when the first victim, Andrew Jakes, was murdered.
She figured she could pull off the innocent lamb act, thanks to the violent Frances, only after meeting LAPD detective Danny McGuire. Charming and unsuspecting, he was very easy for her to read, as was every other man in her life. She realized that in spite of all the evidence pointing towards her being, if not the main perpetrator, but at least a part of the murder, Danny chose to override his first instinct and trust Angela (Wife no. 1/ Sofia Basta) entirely.
This encouraged the psychopath in her to conspire and plan with Frances for further escapades, motives being either monetary or purely the adrenaline rush that accompanied the murders. The blood lust, primarily, was hers, but she let Frances play it out.
When Matt Daley (estranged son of Andrew Jakes and a writer who wanted to make a documentary on the killing) came into picture and her life, Sofia came to know that she and Frances were drawing way too much attention to themselves. This wasn’t just a local murder anymore. This was going big.
By the time she met Matt as Lisa, they had already gotten away with at least 3 known murders. She knew it was only a matter of time before there would be a lot more people on their case. It would, then, be difficult to get away with these proceedings as easily. She figured out a plan to use her last heist as a way of disappearing off the face of the earth.
With exorbitant planning, she let Danny, Matt and David Ishag (the unsuspecting supposed last victim who had been pulled in the loop by Danny) catch up with her. In court trials, she used her innocent lamb image, Frances’s obvious violent nature and her clearly existing schizophrenia to escape an extreme sentence or possible death.
Once in prison, she took help of Carlos (the guard at the women’s prison) to escape and stage her death, erasing all her trails and putting everyone off her track.
The hushed murder of Frances followed, the motive being revenge for his abuse on her dormant side all these years.
After this was done, she met up with Matt, the one man left who was ready to go any lengths to protect her or vouch for her. Carlos, unfortunately, had to be killed by her in the process, seeing as he was the only one apart from Matt who knew about her being alive and her whereabouts.
All she wanted, after killing Carlos, was a fleeting moment of happiness with Matt. She had been the happiest when she was her alter ego ‘Lisa’ because Matt had shown her a healthy possibility of a life, something she had never experienced in her earlier life.
She would have had that fleeting moment of happiness, a slip on Matt’s end, and would’ve left him and his family alone for good. But, Matt did the inexcusable. He made the mistake of leaving his wife and unborn child, becoming another one of the men Sofia loathed.
I like to think the story ends with her, in her beautiful massive home, surrounded by Matt’s money, and the money she had accumulated under Frances’s nose all these years, with a dead Matt lying somewhere in Morocco, waiting to be discovered.
In the end, I like to think Sofia Basta got her happy ending. She was in the story she had always wished to be in. In Mirriam’s world.