Thursday, 2 January 2014

The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams (a review)

Bobby Dollar is an Angel Advocate, whose job on earth is to plead the case for the souls of the recently departed. At point of death each person is judged, with an advocate (from Heaven) and a prosecutor (from Hell) trying to "win" the soul - good people go to Heaven, bad people to Hell and those in the grey area spend a time in Purgatory before moving on.

Things start to go wrong for Bobby when he turns up to plead for a soul and the soul in question has disappeared - and this is only the first! Added to this, a short while after, the Prosecutor,  Grasswax is found murdered (most gruesomly ) at the scene of the missing soul and Bobby starts to look around and solve the mystery. There is also the small problem of a missing item, belonging to one of Hell's big hitters, which everyone seems to think Bobby has (apart from Bobby) and everyone wants to get there hands on.

The world of Bobby Dollar (aka The Angel Doloriel) is not what you might be expecting in a tale of the eternal battle between Heaven and Hell. It is a gritty, Chandleresque version of our world. Our hero himself also, is not what you would expect from a member of the Heavenly Host, a very rough round the edges guy with a habit of getting into trouble. The story starts at a run and picks up more speed as it goes along with hardly a chance to draw breath. Unsure who to trust, constantly on the run, pursued by demons and monsters, and falling for The Countess of The Cold Hands (yeah, that's right an Angel in love with a member of "the other side") - life with Bobby is far, far from dull, with a full supporting cast of the weird and wonderful.

This is possibly Tad Williams' best work since Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, which will appeal to fans of The Dresden Files and Mike Carey's Felix Castor books. I'm certainly looking forward to more in this series.

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