Angels are amongst us and, in the case of Remy ‘Remiel’ Chandler, working as a private detective in Boston.
Along with the regular cases, Remy seems to have a large number of the weird and unusual to deal with. The latest case concerns missing weapons with supernatural powers. It seems someone is using divine and demonic denizens to assemble an arsenal powerful enough to attack Heaven. Remy will have to use his human and angelic abilities to protect more than one world as he fights to suppress the warrior angel which aches to burst out and unleash holy destruction.
‘Dancing On The Head Of A Pin’ borrows heavily on the Judeo-Christian traditions of angels. The action takes place many thousands of years after a rebellion in Heaven. God has expelled those who rebelled and bound them to Hell or to Earth as befitted their level of rebellion. Remy is unusual in that he fought on God’s side in the war but has become jaded and dispirited as a result of seeing and causing so much destruction. His crisis of faith causes his voluntary exile to Earth.
Many of the former angels having spent millennia among humans seem to have absorbed the best and worst of our characteristics. Remy has loved and lost a human wife. This sadness echoes his existence. Other former angels will try anything to get back to Heaven while Remy struggles to reconcile his human and angelic natures.
Sneigoski does a very good job of mixing two very different elements here. The oldest books in the Bible refer to angels as messengers of God. The latter additions build layers of angelic hordes. Some do the destroying of sinful cities, some act as means of passing on information from God to us poor mortals and others travel the Earth recording human activities. All of these types and more are here.
The other literary style here is the hard-boiled detective and crime novels of the 40s and 50s. Remy is your classic flawed hero and his name is a deliberate nod to hard-boiled author Raymond Chandler. I am not sure if it is deliberate but Raymond Chandler also went through a dramatic life and career change which echoes Remy’s own. Remy’s friends include Marlowe, his labrador, another nice Raymond Chandler reference.
Sneigoski’s writing is rich and deceptively simple. He portrays Remy as a tortured and conflicted person. The supporting cast are vivid and nicely described, too. The plot follows a traditional crime structure with clues being revealed as the story progresses. There are twists and turns along the way and the big reveal was not telegraphed. The descriptions of how the various former heavenly inhabitants have either reconciled or rebelled against their earthly life rings true. The pace of the story pulls you along with every wingbeat and fiery slash.
The story and style are hard to categorise. There is a young adult feel to the story, possibly a youngish adult feel is more accurate. The supernatural crime story will appeal to a wide variety of readers. At this point, there are seven volumes in this series so the new reader has the luxury of knowing that Remy’s world is pretty rich and diverse. Fans of the supernatural will appreciate the detail and research that the author has put into fleshing out his creations.
Overall, an excellent book and I look forward to reading more from the series.
(pub: ROC/Penguin, 2009). 291 page paperback. Price: $ 7.99 (US), £ 5.99 (UK). ISBN: ISBN: 978-0-45146-251-0)
check out website: www.sniegoski.com/remy/