The Dirty Streets Of Heaven by Tad Williams (book review).

Angel detective I hear you say? Sorry to all the Joss Whedon fans out there but the Buffy spin-off show isn’t making a return to television. Instead, we get an eternal battle between heaven and hell that takes a turn for the worse and it’s up to private investigator Bobby Dollar to save the day.

Bobby Dollar or Doloriel as he’s know by the big guy upstairs, is an angel stationed on Earth to argue on behalf of recently departed souls and attempt to get them into heaven or at least keep them out of hell.

A seemingly open-and-shut case is screwed up when the soul goes missing and Bobby is charged with finding out what happened before he takes the angel equivalent of a walk along the river bed wearing some concrete shoes. This is on top of guiding a rookie angel who has inexplicably earned a promotion to the streets, avoiding falling into bed with a past love and trying not to fall for a demon with a heart so cold, hell would freeze over if she kept her mouth open for too long.

Obviously, my pulp detective-writing skills need some work but the same cannot be said for Tad Williams. ‘The Dirty Streets Of Heaven’ meshes biblical themes with Raymond Chandler-style phrasing and although it may seem like it shouldn’t work, it does. Despite the setting, the phrasing and situations are believable and never become tiresome which is a risk with this style.

The book does start off quite slowly and it feels like some time before you get into the meat of the plot. I prefer to believe that this was intentional on the part of Williams in order to create a world with substance and depth. It’s worth sticking with as once the main plot gets going, it moves at a pace slicker than an ice-skater skidding over an oil spill…sorry, couldn’t help it.

Despite his ridiculous name, Bobby Dollar is a lead you can root for. He has enough weaknesses and character flaws that you can relate to him, even though he’s an agent of the Almighty. Demon Caz, the femme fatale of the story, is a perfectly-written character and it’s no wonder that Bobby can’t keep his eyes and hands off her. I applaud Williams for writing the woman of my dreams without having ever met, knowing or hearing of me.

With two more books in the series scheduled between now and 2014, it seems as though we haven’t seen the last of Bobby Dollar and he’ll keep turning up like a bad penny…last time I swear…I, for one, will be looking forward to the next instalment to see how the battle progresses and just how much cooler Bobby can get.

Aidan Fortune

(pub: Hodder & Stoughton. 406 page hardback. Price: £18.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-444-73855-1)
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Once called a "fountain of useless pop culture knowledge", Aidan is an unashamed geek, grateful that he is allowed share his opinions on a global scale. A journalist by trade, Aidan is a massive fan of comics and recently set up a comics group in Brighton in order to engage more with like-minded people. His home is subject to a constant battle of vintage paraphernalia and science fiction & fantasy toys.

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