Monday, January 14, 2013

The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams *****

The easy answer is that The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams, one the great living writers of fantasy (and science fiction), about Bobby Dollar, an angel assigned to advocate for souls going to Heaven, against the Opposition recruiting for Hell, is Urban Fantasy. But Williams is not that easy to categorize, and I'd argue Bobby himself almost had it figured out when the Countess of Cold Hands pinned him against the wall and demanded,
Wake up Bobby! This isn't a detective novel.
It IS a detective novel. Bobby Dollar is the new Kinsey Millhone of Sue Grafton's 'alphabet series' (e.g. A is for Alibi through V is for Vengeance) fame.

The superficial evidence?  Kinsey lives in Santa Teresa, a fictionalized town in the vicinity of Santa Barbara, while Bobby, needing an "urban" setting, lives farther north in San Judas, a fictionalized town in the vicinity of Sunnyvale. Kinsey tends to go for murders, while in Bobby's debut, he is looking for lost souls ... literally lost souls ... people have died and no one in Heaven or Hell can find their souls.

But the similarities run deeper, both detectives are low key, irreverent, cool ... though the action is serious the tone is not ... closer to Terry Pratchett than Tami Hoag. Also, they both are clever in dialogue and thought. Here is a sampling of Bobby Dollar's bons mots.
Altogether, the affair had more loose end than Swinger's Night in a bucket of worms.
I felt like a garage full for car alarms right after a major earthquake.
What are you planning to do, open a Museum of Crap someday?
Urban Fiction or Detective Fantasy, this is a wonderfully imaginative story with fortunately more already planned for the near future.


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