Fiction Reviews

Sleeping Late on Judgement Day

(2014) Tad Williams, Hodder, £8.99, pbk, viii + 439pp, ISBN 978-1-444-73867-4


Following on from The Dirty Streets of Heaven and Happy Hour in Hell it is the end, the very end, for end is nigh, so Bobby Dollar sometimes known as the angel Doloriel had better not be caught 'Sleeping Late on Judgement Day', because for him the end is nigh.

It is like that old song When a Man Loves A Woman but this time it’s 'When An Angel Loves a Demon' which is a real rule breaker, time for a whole album full of blues songs that Bobby Dollar can sing for he’s loved and lost the demon of his dreams, namely Caz, otherwise known as the Countess of Cold Hands and even went to Hell to try and save her, running up against his arch-enemy, and one of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, the demon Eligor. Now he’s back on the mean streets of his old stomping ground San Judas, California which is a long way from Heaven and Hell or the mysterious The Third Way, but what is that exactly? There has been enough tantalising hints to tempt Bobby to dig deeper but he’s had other things on his mind lately, but like it or not if he’s going to survive he’s going to have delve deeper into the secrets of this mysterious place which both demons and angels have hinted it.

Yep, when places like Heaven and Hell have been around long enough then things become a bit confused, and angels become jaded, and hard of heart, even cruel, while demons, of all people, or rather, creatures, start to show traits that might even be considered compassion, even mercy and as we’ve learned in the last novel some of them aren’t very happy with their lot in the respective afterlives. When you’ve also been around as long as Bobby and had the role of Advocate you make a lot of enemies, including some very powerful ones who decide the time is right to strike. If Bobby is going to survive he’s going to have to pull in a few favours and call on angels both old and new, the odd demon and some Scythian Amazons who are very handy in a fight. Maybe this book is slightly less PC (politically correct) than the two previous books in the series and more black and white in terms of the use to which Williams puts some celestial entities, especially those taken from other cultures and religions which may cause a few grumbles, particularly from readers hailing from other parts of world, or you can just ignore this and jump on for another very entertaining ride which consists of an prologue and epilogue and some forty nine fast-paced chapters shoe-horned in between.

Williams has proved in the previous books in the series that he can do noir, and layers upon layers of conspiracies, as well as creating a canvas filled with interesting and novel characters and he can also do funny, in a hardboiled, one-liner sort of way and if you want to see how gunny he can be check out his Best of… short story collection and the hilarious Every Fuzzy Beast of the Earth, Every Pink Fowl of the Air, strangely enough it also involves angels and their Creator, and his daughter trying to sort out the mess that is the Garden of Eden – hey, there’s a first time for everything so give the old God a break. This book brings the trilogy to an end there are enough dangling plot lines and unanswered questions to allow Williams the opportunity if he wants to pick up the reins again and delve into Bobby’s past and his future for further adventures, but I suspect as Williams writing career takes him back to the fantasy world he is most famous for, then we’ll just have to wait a while before we walk the means streets of San Judas, or anywhere else in the company of Bobby Dollar, shame. Fans of the series will enjoy the last of the trilogy, and new readers – if they are into things like Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden books, or like the Heaven vs. Hell shenanigans taking place in Supernatural - should get themselves a copy of The Dirty Streets of Heaven and start from there.

Ian Hunter

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