Hank Briggs, private detective in the 1950s, probably solved the most famous murder mystery in Hollywood’s history and never told anyone – except for himself.?
“The Angel of Vine” is a fictional true crime podcast following a present day journalist called to discover the audio tapes of private detective Hank Briggs who might have solved the murder mystery of The Angel of Vine.
I must admit, I have a penchant for crime stories of any kind and as much as they sometimes scare or freak me out, I always end up reading, watching or listening to them. As a consequence, as soon as I heard about “The Angel of Vine” I had to give it a listen. To be fair, I have never listened to a podcast of this kind before mostly given to my lack of knowledge that these kind of podcasts even existed (are there more?), but I was not disappointed.
From the beginning the podcast gave me everything I needed: a nice backstory to surround the plot, a shocking, brutal but brilliant murder (I swear I am not a serial killer), a very nice atmosphere (I definitely traveled back in time when listening to Hank’s tapes) and very likable but still flawed characters (I have nothing to comment on here). But let’s take a closer look step by step.
First of all the storyline is compelling and captivating. Not only is, as mentioned, a brutal and especially outstanding murder presented to us that already triggers our interest levels, but we are also left with two major questions that lead us through the entire season: Did Hank Briggs actually solve the case? And if he did, why would he not tell anyone? Minor spoiler: Both questions are answered.
The murder itself is disturbing and horrible, nothing for people who do not enjoy some horrific mind pictures form time to time. It reminded me personally of the Black Delilah (I do not know where the writers’ inspirations come from, I am just guessing). However, there is no scene of the actual murder so if you are someone like me who does not like to listen to the victim’s desperation before they are killed you do not have to worry. This of course also makes sense in terms of the story since we are mostly listening to Hank Briggs audio tapes who, surprise, surprise, was not attendant during the murder.
In between Hank’s audio tapes we are guided by the modern day journalist Oscar Simons through the story. He gives us the needed background on the murder and on Hank Briggs’ personality. Doing so the story does not become boring, I never felt like I am given too many information that can even sometimes be irrelevant, like the narrator is just rambling on and on or I was even getting spoiled. Overall the narration is a suitable part of the story and not distracting in any way. Because of Simons’ interest not only for the case but also for the person who worked the case the focus is also held on the detective who sometimes may come a little short. What does a heavy case like The Angel of Vine do to you as a person? Additionally, I approve of the interviews with Hank’s daughter and granddaughter. It is thrilling to see how Hank influenced his family back in the 50’s when his daughter was still a child and how the reveal of his work, listening to these numerous audio tapes influences his family now. In how far does it change their point of view on him?
The main character is very likable though deeply flawed. Hank Briggs is a straight-forward guy who does not fuss and is not afraid to threaten violence to get information needed. In my opinion, he is pretty much how you imagine an American detective from the 1950’s. At the same time he is someone you can relate to: he loves his family, has good intensions and is driven by a good heart but cannot compensate all of it. He is human, strong but vulnerable, he cannot ignore injustice or pain of innocent people. All these attributes make him lovable as a character. On the opposite stands his family that he loved but neglected for valid or invalid (you will have to decide for yourself) reasons.
(Mild spoilers ahead! Please skip the next paragraph if you have not finished listening.)
To my mind, all characters are well established and have a suitable role in the story, nonetheless, I would like to talk about one character in more detail – this would be Leonard Shaw. Having finished the season I must admit he made an outstanding appearance, once again being the perfect embody of a stereotype: the rich, presumptuous, impolite Hollywood-businessman. Yet, what I like most is how well he distracts from any other (possible) suspect. He did not have to be the murderer but somehow I was sure he would have some friends behind the scenes that were responsible for the murder. There had to be an outcome which involved him in the solution of the case somehow. How would it be possible for him not to be a part with an attitude towards people’s value like his? I believe Hank thought likewise and like me Shaw’s character really put him off guard for any other suspect.
I will not spoil the ending (obviously) but would just like to mention that it is very appealing, especially if you like some psycho. Who the murderer was you were pretty much able to guess by now, however, everything around that person was indeed surprising and captivating. In addition, I loved the interview with Hank’s family in the end, it gave me chills and rounded the the plot off very nicely.
Lastly, I would like to talk about the amazing performance of all actors, I absolutely adore the cast. Joe Manganiello voices Hank Briggs perfectly – if “The Angel of Vine” had been a book and I had read it Manganiello’s voice would have been exactly what I would have had in mind for Hank Briggs. Moreover, the soundtrack (a piano version of “Angel Eyes” by Frank Sinatra) is superb as if made for this podcast.
In summary, I would without doubt recommend “The Angel of Vine” for you to listen to if you are looking for an entertaining podcast with a story that makes you forget day, time and everything around you.
Thank you for your attention.