Friday, December 20, 2013

Happy Hour In Hell (Bobby Dollar 2), by Tad Williams

Okay, now we are talking deep. Happy Hour In Hell (Bobby Dollar 2), by Tad Williams takes us from the bowels of Heaven to the heart of Hell, and its a rough ride, and a heck of a good story.

But first, may I just say how refreshing it is to find a book by a big publisher (DAW) with such a great Blurb? This is a great innovation—they should keep up the good work!

The Blurb:

I’ve been told to go to Hell more times than I can count. But this time I’m actually going.

My name’s Bobby Dollar, sometimes known as Doloriel, and of course, Hell isn’t a great place for someone like me—I’m an angel. They don’t like my kind down there, not even the slightly fallen variety. But they have my girlfriend, who happens to be a beautiful demon named Casimira, Countess of Cold Hands. Why does an angel have a demon girlfriend? Well, certainly not because it helps my career.

She’s being held hostage by one of the nastiest, most powerful demons in all of the netherworld—Eligor, Grand Duke of Hell. He already hates me, and he’d like nothing better than to get his hands on me and rip my immortal soul right out of my borrowed but oh-so-mortal body.

But wait, it gets better! Not only do I have to sneak into Hell, make my way across thousands of miles of terror and suffering to reach Pan- demonium, capital of the fiery depths, but then I have to steal Caz right out from under Eligor’s burning eyes and smuggle her out again, past demon soldiers, hellhounds, and all the murderous creatures imprisoned there for eternity. And even if I somehow manage to escape Hell, I’m also being stalked by an undead psychopath named Smyler who’s been following me for weeks. Oh, and did I mention that he can’t be killed?

So if I somehow survive Hell, elude the Grand Duke and all his hideous minions and make it back to the real world, I’ll still be the most hunted soul in Creation. But at least I’ll have Caz. Gotta have something to look forward to, right?

So just pour me that damn drink, will you? I’ve got somewhere to go.

My Review:

First off, I'm not going to give you the play-by-play of the book. Instead, I am going to give you my impressions. 

If you like your angels as painted by Michelangelo, you are in the wrong place. Bobby isn't that sort of an angel. Bobby gets in and does Heaven’s dirty work with his bare hands. He’s a hard-boiled detective, a bad-boy, and he’s the sort of angel my mother warned me about. But he’s also just the sort of angel you want on your side when you suddenly find yourself dead, and your soul is being judged.

The action starts on page one and it just keep on going all the way through the book. Even the places where a less-skilled author would be giving you an info dump are well-plotted and the momentum of Bobby's adventures keeps you moving while you absorb the atmosphere.

And let’s talk atmosphere: if I die today, I don’t wanna go to this version of Hell. It is everything Hell should be—lurid, sadistic, brutal, horrifying, disgusting and evil. It’s no place for an angel, and the things that happen to Bobby are violent and beyond horrible. In every situation, and all the way through the never-ending string of torments Bobby is put through, he is still focused on his one obsession, that of getting Caz back.

It's hard to say which place is more malevolent, Heaven or Hell. Hell is more obviously evil, but Heaven is not a fun place either. Bobby's superiors are not a nice bunch. Of course, you have to realize that Demons are just Fallen Angels, so the capacity for cold, hard justice was always there. The Smyler is one of the creepiest villains I've ever seen. Not the sort of villain to read about before bed! And he’s just the tip of the iceberg.

But even in Hell there is the occasional flash of kindness, things that get Bobby asking questions. While in Hell, Bobby’s eyes are opened to the possibility that the gray area between good and evil may be wider than he thought, and he begins to wonder about his former partner, a renegade angel, and the mysterious third way. If that sub-plot will take Bobby anywhere, I don't know, but I am intrigued.

It is a stand-alone book, in that you don’t have to have read book 1 to understand exactly what is going on, and there is a satisfying conclusion, even if it’s not the one you expect. That makes it even better! I am now eagerly waiting for the next installment in this madcap mountain of mayhem! 

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