The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams

The Dirty Streets of HeavenExcuse me while I morph into a crazy fan-girl for a moment…

I love love love this book, it is cool and fab and lots of other gushy words, and I heart Bobby Dollar so much it hurts…

Right, back to normal now, although I truly did love this book. It saw me over a couple of ropey days when I desperately needed something to take my mind off other stuff. It is a proper storyteller’s story, packed full of plot and character. Now, I haven’t yet read any of Tad Williams’ other novels, which are full-on fantasy, but this does seems like a bit of a new angle for him. The Dirty Streets of Heaven is a supernatural-crime mash-up. I rather enjoy a good mash-up, playing with genres gets the thumbs-up, especially when something as cool as this is the result.

Our hero, the yummy Bobby Dollar is a P.I. with a difference; he’s an angel. A bona fide angel, with access to the other side but clothed in human form so as not to startle the natives. Along with his angel buddies his job is to advocate for the recently deceased to help them ascend to heaven rather than plunge to the other place. Bobby’s good at his job, just not hugely popular upstairs. He has a bit of a reputation for potential wildcard behaviour. We all know how unpopular that is with the big bosses. However, other than a slight feeling of unease about, well, everything and a disastrous relationship things are just fine for the Big D. Apart from the missing soul, obviously.

Now, souls aren’t supposed to go missing. They just mill around a bit waiting for someone to explain to then that, sadly, their time on earth is up. As they’re processing that bit of information, it’s judgement time. Generally they’re much too confused to disappear, so when the immortal part of Edward Walker vanishes both Heaven and Hell are mighty vexed. Poor Dollar is dropped right in the middle of the debacle, with each side accusing the other of theft and dodgy dealings. Even worse is the possibility that both sides are telling the truth and the soul has gone someplace else. So Dollar begins his frantic search for answers, meeting some seriously scary demons and some equally terrifying angels who all want to do bad things with him.

It’s chocked full of gloriously crazy characters; the repulsive and breathtaking, the freaky and weird are all vividly described. The action runs at manic-miles-per-hour, pausing for breath only occasionally to fill us in on Bobby’s history or the finer workings of the celestial justice system. Bobby lurches from one potential disaster to another, driven to uncover the truth no matter how disturbing or personally traumatic. It is such a lot of fun to read, and I really liked that although we find out loads about Bobby there is still so much more to be told in subsequent stories.

There we have it. I loved it. I want more Bobby Dollar stories. I want to read this one again. I want to read all the stories by Tad Williams. If you want an action-packed/damaged hero/supernatural/crime extravaganza that incidentally tackles the nature of morality then this is the book for you!

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