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3.9 out of 5 stars
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3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 11 September 2017
What a joy to read, I have read many of Tad Williams book's and he is an exceptional Author. This book of the battle between Good and Evil is a great thought provoking take on religion and how we perceive it. I like the premise that no one religion is correct or wrong, Bobby Dollar is a great character, he is like an Angelic gumshoe. He affects everyone and everything he meets, in both good and bad ways. I can't wait to read the next instalment. Fab
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on 25 August 2017
An unusual subject, but a great story as always from Tad. I'm on the second instalment, which continues this triple header. Highly recommended.
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on 29 May 2016
Great fun enjoyed it heaven will never seem the same a detective and an angel good twist also a sexy femme fatelle demon
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on 14 September 2017
Quite a nice spin on an old classic detective novel genre. Not for the easily offended - worth a read.
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on 5 January 2015
Excellent
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VINE VOICEon 1 September 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Bobby Dollar - or the Angel Doloriel - helps guide souls to Heaven once they've passed on. It's his job as an advocate to battle the minions of Hell in a courtroom for each soul's afterlife, fighting to save as many souls as possible, even when they have to spend some time in Purgatory first. But when a soul disappears, right underneath his nose, without ever having appeared to himself or Hell's advocate, and then keeps happening, normality is uprooted and both sides are in crisis. Dollar feels compelled to investigate, but as he gets closer to the truth, he finds himself accused of theft, chased by an ancient monster, and madly in lust with Hell's most attractive demon.

Compared to Tad Williams' epic fantasies, this book is a speedy, exciting read, a cross between a thriller and a detective novel with a whole lot of fantasy mixed in. The concepts behind the novel are actually quite epic in themselves; we get a full description of his version of Heaven and Hell, and Bobby frequently tries to describe what Heaven's like (since he is an angel). He might be in an improvised courtroom, but he does in fact help determine the eternal fate of people, which is not a small-town job in the slightest.

As an angel, Bobby is naturally somewhat tougher than a normal human, even though he wears a human body; he can still be killed, but usually angels reincarnate in new bodies. He's done it before, but it's never a guarantee, which means he is relatively careful and does try not to get too badly beaten up in the pursuit of answers. It's really common in practically all urban fantasy novels for the main character to not sleep and suffer severe injuries that would probably kill another character, so this little caveat is very handy.

I didn't love this book as much as I'd hoped, unfortunately; compared to the pace of a normal urban fantasy, I actually found parts of it moved slowly, and there was a lot of description as the world was built. Bobby is a good character, with a snarky attitude, but I wasn't really drawn into his feelings towards Casimira, the demon, or his attitude towards women in general. I felt as though the book had a huge amount of potential, but never really swept me up and carried me away as a good book should. I'm hoping that subsequent books in the series stop with so much description and make me feel more attached to the characters in general. It's been known to happen and I certainly hope it happens here.

The Dirty Streets of Heaven would be a good choice for a reader who already enjoys Tad Williams' work and is looking for something a little less like a doorstopper, but it's not quite up there with some of the other fantastic urban fantasy series. It could be, but he's not quite there yet.
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VINE VOICEon 25 August 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Bobby Dollar is an angel. He's an advocate; an angel sent to the recently deceased and argue for the side of light when they are judged. But something has gone wrong - there are dead bodies without souls and something is hunting Bobby, something big and extremely ugly.

This is a great book. Having read many of Tad Williams' other books (Otherland, Memory, Sorrow & Thorn, War of the Flowers) it's funny to see him switch to the thriller / detective genre so effortlessly. And this is exactly what this is - it's a detective story, set in heaven and earth with a scattering of demons.

All the elements are there - an angel with a grumpy attitude and a murky past, a rookie who asks too many questions, a beautiful dame (who just happens to be a hell-spawned demon), a wealth of bad guys, bureaucracy in the 'office' and a load of secret contacts and complications.

For those of you familiar with Tad Williams' work, I'll reassure you that this is one of his more concise works - it's well-paced (even more so that War of the Flowers) and moves along very nicely without getting bogged down in the details.

My only real complaint is that it's not mind-blowing. It's a good solid book, very enjoyable and readable. But it didn't have me absolutely hooked, compelled to read on - but those books are few and far between, I think.
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I tend to avoid reading urban fantasies with angels in them -- partly because they're usually "Twilightish" romances, and partly because it seems disrespectful to write about creatures that are part of people's actual religions.

But I am immediately intrigued by anything that Tad Williams has written, so I broke my rule and picked up "The Dirty Streets of Heaven: Volume One of Bobby Dollar." This isn't Williams at his most creative or eloquent, but it is a fun, snarky urban fantasy in the tradition of the Dresden Files (but with more trips to Heaven).

Bobby Dollar -- aka Doloriel -- is a lower-level angel in human form, living in the city of San Judas. His job is to argue on behalf of the newly dead, trying to get them to heaven despite the involvement of the Opposition (read: demons).

But when he's called to the site of a recent suicide, Bobby is aghast to find that the man's soul is MISSING. Then a demon prosecutor is brutally murdered on the same spot, and Hell has apparently decided that Bobby is the dude whodunnit. Even worse, someone has summoned a primordial ghallu to completely destroy Bobby.

As Bobby tries to unravel this mystery, he learns that both Heaven and Hell are in an uproar, because this isn't the first soul that's gone missing. And finding out the answer will reveal a shocking fact that will unsettle both sides of that cosmic battle -- assuming that Bobby isn't killed first.

"The Dirty Streets of Heaven" is probably Tad Williams' lightest book to date -- it's a snarky, snappy urban fantasy in the mold of the Dresden Files, but focusing just on angels and demons. The biggest influence is obviously Bobby Dollar himself, a naturally suspicious angel who tends to be cynical and kind of a loner.

The story slips along at a steady clip, with jaggedly clever prose ("the sun stabbing through the dusty blinds of the Royal Highway Motor Hotel like Norman Bates's favorite steak knife") and lots of dry wit. Throw in some alluring demons, a ravening monster and a grimy urban setting, and you have a recipe for fun fluff.

However, this isn't the best writing I've seen from Tad Williams, who is capable of soul-stirringly beautiful prose and complex plotting. It's not BAD -- in fact it's quite entertaining -- but it's nowhere near what he's capable of writing.

The part of the book that bothered me was the theology, which rarely seemed to make sense and was full of logical holes. It felt like Williams came up with two different versions of angels (one strange and alien, one "just people"), and smushed them together in one book. And his theological musings end up falling flat, because his angels are SO wildly unlike those of Judeo-Christian beliefs.

Bobby Dollar is definitely a character in the Harry Dresden mold -- he's snarky and witty, gets bashed around a lot, and has a reputation as a mistrustful troublemaker. Despite this, he has a good heart inside his fleshly form. There are also some interesting characters on both sides, such as the Countess of Cold Hands and Clarence/Harry, a young angel just starting out on the job.

"The Dirty Streets of Heaven: Volume One of Bobby Dollar" is a fun, action-packed read with some truly holey theology, but it's pretty light fare from an author like Tad Williams.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Bobby Dollar is an angel who serves as an advocate for the recently deceased. Whenever someone dies, their soul is fought over by Heaven and Hell, with advocates from both sides competing for it. Dollar's latest case is complicated when the soul in question vanishes, and even the infernal legions of Hell seem at a loss as to what's going on. As Dollar investigates, he uncovers ancient conspiracies, political infighting even amongst the ranks of the angels of Heaven and that he himself has been targeted by every supernatural gang in California. He just doesn't know why.

The Dirty Streets of Heaven is the opening novel in the Bobby Dollar series by Tad Williams. Williams is best known for his shelf-destroying epic fantasies and the extremely slow pace of his novels. His recent Shadowmarch series suffered from a glacially ponderous structure that sometimes threatened to spill over into outright boredom. However, Williams's move into urban fantasy has been like a shot of pure storytelling adrenalin. The Dirty Streets of Heaven moves like a whippet with its tail on fire.

The book outlines its ground rules early on: Heaven and Hell are real, but their forces have been in a state of uneasy peace (or a Cold War) for millions of years. Complex rules govern their interactions. The relationship between the two sides shifts by location; Muslims, Jews and those of other faiths experience different results to those of nominally Christian denominations. Also, being an atheist is no help either. Spirits in Heaven have their memories wiped of their mortal lives, allowing them to start over, whilst those in Hell are damned by their previous actions and forced to recall them vividly. Given the low-key nature of a lot of urban fantasies, it's interesting to see Williams outlining an epic backdrop right from the very start.

Bobby Dollar is our only POV character (the novel is told from the first-person) and is a complex individual, nominally on the side of Light but a bit too fond of mortal vices like sex and drink. His superiors despair of his methods, but he gets results and remains loyal to the Highest (who hasn't been seen or head in eons), so is tolerated. Dollar has a bunch of allies and helpers, such as fellow angel Sam (who he was in the angel special forces with) and a superb information-broker who has unfortunately been cursed into a reversed werepig, only lucid and capable of intelligence speech between the hours of midnight and dawn when he is in the shape of a pig.

Freed from the language and technological constraints of medieval fantasy, Williams goes to town in this novel. The author is clearly having a lot of fun as he hits the reader with a lot of inventive ideas, fast-paced action scenes and decent moments of character introspection. The relatively short length (400 pages makes the book a novella by Williams's normal standards) means that the pace has to be fast and furious, packed with plot twists and revelations

The only complaint that the solution to the mystery in the book relies a little too much on the metaphysics of the setting, which have not been fully explained, so it's hard for the reader to solve the puzzle themselves (half the fun of a good mystery).

Beyond that, The Dirty Streets of Heaven (****½) is Williams on top form, delivering a page-turning, highly inventive, fun read and his best book in a decade. The novel will be available on 4 September in the USA and on 13 September in the UK.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
What after death? Advocates from Heaven and Hell arrive at the scene to argue before a judge where next for the soul. That is how it has always been, but now suddenly souls go missing. Great is the consternation Above and Below....

There at the first disappearance was maverick angel Bobby Dollar. He narrates. Greatly will he suffer as Those on High demand answers and daemons pursue (the grotesque Ghallu, in particular, a force to be reckoned with). Whom can he trust? How many of those around him have secret agendas?

The central idea is full of promise, with interesting concepts of what lies beyond. Colourful characters abound, many decidedly weird. Add chases and horror and explicit sex. Surely all the ingredients are here for an engrossing read?

Sadly, no. For some, a major stumbling block is Bobby Dollar himself - his flippant, tough guy narration reminiscent of old fashioned American private eyes. This quickly proves intensely irritating. Another drawback is too much information, the 400+ pages of small print at times proving a very real slog.

Pleasures tend to be incidental. Not all the "humour" is heavy handed. For examples, the angels' work-issue cell phones have "Hallelujah Chorus" ring tones, wayward angels may be demoted to appearing in visions to nuns. There is also that letter from the first to go soulless, it reading like something by H.G. Wells. Such aspects give tantalizing glimpses of what might have been.

Many like the novel as it is. I am amongst those with reservations: savage editing and a more likeable central character would have led to something much better.
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