Friday, August 16, 2013

The Dirty Streets of Heaven: Volume One of Bobby Dollar, Tad Williams

Today I am taking you into the world of the paranormal once again, with The Dirty Streets of Heaven: Volume One of Bobby Dollar, by well-known author, Tad Williams. The underlying concept of Bobby Dollar is a real departure as far as paranormal fantasy goes, and Williams does it well.

The Blurb:
Bobby Dollar is an angel—a real one. He knows a lot about sin, and not just in his professional capacity as an advocate for souls caught between Heaven and Hell. Bobby’s wrestling with a few deadly sins of his own—pride, anger, even lust.

But his problems aren't all his fault. Bobby can’t entirely trust his heavenly superiors, and he’s not too sure about any of his fellow earthbound angels either, especially the new kid that Heaven has dropped into their midst, a trainee angel who asks too many questions. And he sure as hell doesn't trust the achingly gorgeous Countess of Cold Hands, a mysterious she-demon who seems to be the only one willing to tell him the truth. When the souls of the recently departed start disappearing, catching both Heaven and Hell by surprise, things get bad very quickly for Bobby D. End-of-the-world bad. Beast of Revelations bad.

Caught between the angry forces of Hell, the dangerous strategies of his own side, and a monstrous undead avenger that wants to rip his head off and suck out his soul, Bobby’s going to need all the friends he can get—in Heaven, on Earth, or anywhere else he can find them. You've never met an angel like Bobby Dollar. And you've never read anything like The Dirty Streets of Heaven.

Brace yourself—the afterlife is weirder than you ever believed. 

My Review:
I bought this as something light to read on my vacation, wondering in what direction Tad Williams would go with a paranormal fantasy. I knew the man who wrote works as diverse as Tailchaser's Song, the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn Trilogy,  and the Otherland series would never take the tame path if he decided to dip into the paranormal. I was not disappointed! Williams never takes the easy road.

The blurb is absolutely correct--this is most definitely NOT your little sister's paranormal fantasy about angels and demons. It's a hard-boiled murder mystery that just happens to be set in the realm of the paranormal.  Bobby Dollar is a genuine bad-boy (my favorite sort of a character) but he's on the good guy's team. His cynical attitude is both aggravating and hilarious, making him one of the more interesting characters in the genre of paranormal fiction.

Bobby Dollar's Heaven is seedy and a bit rundown. He is a hard-boiled detective-type, speaking on behalf of those recently deceased souls who're caught between Heaven and Hell, and who must be judged worthy of Heaven, or Hell, or at least worthy of being sent to Purgatory. 

The other characters in this tale are just as sleazy, and those are just the Angels.  Bobby has enemies within his own world. In many ways the demons are more likable! It makes sense, after all Lucifer started out in Heaven, and look how he turned out. 

Williams has a knack for getting the atmosphere of a tale just right, and he nails it with book one of his Bobby Dollar series.  It reads as fresh and non-conformist as a good genre-twisting indie book. That refusal to fall into formulaic writing just because a particular type of book or series is wildly popular is what I like the most about all of Williams's work--he's not afraid to walk on the wild side. 

I will definitely be reading the next volume, Happy Hour In Hell when it comes out!

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