Readers love Bobby Dollar! Here’s a round-up of recent reviews for Tad’s latest book, The Dirty Streets of Heaven — plus a review of Tailchaser’s Song and Tad’s latest short-story collection, A Stark and Wormy Knight.
by Rob H. Bedford, 9 Oct 2012
Tad switches things up a bit going for the more streamlined noir-influenced Urban Fantasy (and I’m referencing the pre-Anita Blake version of the label) with The Dirty Streets of Heaven, which is the first of the Bobby Dollar series…
This is an Urban Fantasy more in the tradition of how the label was originally utilized, informed by mystery placing the supernatural/fantastical in everyday setting. Readers who enjoy Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, Kate Griffin’s A Madness of Angels, Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files will most likely be as entertained as I was.
If it hasn’t become clear by this point in my review, I enjoyed The Dirty Streets of Heaven a great deal and I’m even more excited to see where Tad Williams takes Bobby Dollar in the next two installments.
by Eric Brown, 5 Oct 2012
When souls of the recently dead go missing, bringing an end to the uneasy truce that has existed for millions of years between heaven and hell, the novel becomes more a noirish exploration of the “mean streets” than It’s a Wonderful Life. Dollar is every bit as morally ambiguous a first-person narrator as anything found in Chandler or Hammett, and his quest for the truth uncovers lies and deception, in heaven and hell, that propel the headlong plot towards a fascinating conclusion.
52 Book Reviews
by Matt Gilliard, 3 Oct 2012
The Dirty Streets of Heaven is a must read for all fans of Urban Fantasy, especially fans of Harry Dresden. Williams combines a startlingly fresh concept and a relatable, yet flawed protagonist and then surrounds him with a supporting cast of offbeat misfits in typical Tad Williams style. Top it all off with gun-battles, car chases, celestial politics, suspicion and frequent flirtation with spiritual philosophy and you have a definite A-list entry into the urban fantasy milieu.
One of the strengths of The Dirty Streets of Heaven is the voice of its protagonist. Considering that any urban fantasy story with a male protagonist is going to face the unavoidable comparison to the 800-pound gorilla of the genre, Harry Dresden, I think Williams has something special in Bobby Dollar. Dollar is at once everything we expect; sarcastic, a ladies man, but unable to form any lasting bonds with anyone of the opposite sex. But he’s an angel which comes with its own set of expectations, and Bobby meets none of them. He has no wings or flaming sword, would rather hang out with his fellow advocates at the bar than do any actual work, and is openly critical of his heavenly masters. Oh and all of those things that make him a typical urban fantasy hero don’t fit very well either. For an angel, Dollar seems, well, rather weak. He battles demons with wits, fists, and bullets. No excessive displays of heavenly might, or smiting the souls of the wicked going on here. At first description, it may seem dull, but it is the secret to the character’s success. Bobby’s resemblance to the reader, his humanity, is what makes him such a remarkable protagonist and Williams never shies away from it.
by AidanFortune, 30 Sep 2012
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.
by Josh, 24 Sep 2012
One of the greatest things about this book is the way in which Williams so cleverly uses his skills as a writer of Big Fantasy Books, the myth/worldbuilding stuff that allows him to pull out a plot through a spectrum of characters, settings, and histories. Urban fantasy is still so often stuck, I think, on trying to not be epic fantasy that it gets lost in the here-and-now details of this or that small scale plot (as opposed to the huge, sweeping plots found in the books of people like Martin, Williams, or Jordan). But Tad Williams is still able to give us some of that neat mythology working behind the scenes of this novel. Sure, the whole thing stays pretty securely in San Judas, and Bobby Dollar spends more time swearing and drinking vodka than he does going after some legendary artifact or leading an army of the Celestial host against the hordes of Hell on the steps of Pandaemonium, but there are definitely hints that there’s an epic story lurking just behind the scenes, and, to be really honest, I think that’s brilliant. Because here’s the thing -– you can’t take an entire religion’s mythology and turn it into a gumshoe story without having those sweeping narratives peek through. Instead of trying to cover that intrinsic epic narrative up, Williams is just really smart about where he lets it shine through. The whole novel feels this way, but this issue in particular –- the meting out of epic vs. urban narrative –- is just masterfully orchestrated.
…Williams navigates the treacherous land of reader expectations and genre conventions like the seasoned pro that he is.
I give The Dirty Streets of Heaven five slices of lasagna.
All Things Urban Fantasy
by Julia, 21 Sep 2012
All of the supporting characters around Bobby are a little shady, from his buddy Sam to his ex-girlfriend to the new kid or the demonic temptress that he can’t stop thinking about. I liked the uncertainty of not knowing if Bobby were making the right decisions on who to trust. Williams doesn’t tie any of the these relationships up with a bow, which means all of the uncertainty and questions in THE DIRTY STREETS OF HEAVEN will provide character driven conflict for book two. Though book one wasn’t quite enough to have me emotionally on the hook, I’m definitely looking forward to HAPPY HOUR IN HELL next year.
Travels Through Iest
by Elfy, 21 Sep 2012
Sometimes with popular fiction in a particular sub genre you can get some stereotyping, this wasn’t the case here. Even the peripheral characters were well drawn. I was particularly impressed with Bobby’s ‘love interest’ Casimira, the Countess of the Cold Hands.
One thing that was handled both with class and humour was the depiction of Heaven and the descriptions of the angels. It would have been very easy to inadvertently offend people with this, but it never happened and I really liked the ideas behind it…
The Dirty Streets of Heaven was really well done and a breath of fresh air in the genre. I’m definitely a fan and the good news is that there are two further Bobby Dollar books planned for the future. If they’re anywhere near the quality of The Dirty Streets of Heaven then this fallen angel has a long and successful career ahead of him.
AWESOME BOOK CLUB: Tailchaser’s Song (spoilerish review)
by Matt, 20 Sep 2012
I’m hesitant to admit this, but I actually liked the book. I even liked it enough to where I would consider reading the second book in a series should Tad Williams ever write one. I’m not really a cat person, but maybe in books they are okay. If you are into Lord of the Rings type stories and you also like cats, this book could be JUST the one you never knew you needed to read.
Dark Matter Fanzine
20 Sep 2012
Dirty Streets is part This Present Darkness, part Wings of Desire, and part Good Omens. The conflict between Heaven and Hell reminds me of This Present Darkness; this is a conflict very similar to a human war, both hot and cold. The theological and philosophical questioning by an angel is reminiscent of Wings of Desire, while the snark reminds me of Good Omens.
Overall I enjoyed The Dirty Streets of Heaven due to its well-paced, engaging plot, characters and snarky, misfit voice of the protagonist.
Monsters and Critics
by Sandy Amazeen, 18 Sep 2012
Told from Bobby’s perspective, the dialog is packed with snarky wit, angels, demons and the occasional odd werepig. The world building is incomparable right down to the smallest details like those dreaded television infomercials. The angels and demons do not follow the usual scripts and their interactions are just another part of the entertainment in this excellent tale that is certain to leave readers wanting much more.
by Neil Buchanan, 18 Sep 2012
Regardless though, The Dirty Streets of Heaven is a solid, engrossing read, the whodunit factor is well-played, the action sequences and general tone and feel of the book spot on with what one might expect (demand) from a detective/fantasy novel.
The Dallas Public Library — Booked Solid
by amber.wu, 15 Sep 2012
Although this novel is very different than any of his previous works, Williams’ skill is obvious in many areas. The plot is an engaging mixture of urban fantasy, thriller and mystery novel all rolled in to one, and to me was unpredictable (although I imagine readers with more experience in mystery noir might have found it foreseeable). The pacing is well controlled, with action rolling off the page with just enough pauses to let the reader catch their breath before diving back in. Dollar is a likeable rogue with a biting wit that brings much-needed humor in both his internal monologue and his legal battles with the minions of Hell.
Library Journal (Starred Review)
by Jackie Cassada, 13 Sep 2012
The celebrated author of such epic fantasies as the [Shadowmarch] series now tries his hand at urban fantasy with a tough, likeable hero and a multidimensional plot. VERDICT The author’s many fans as well as urban fantasy enthusiasts will enjoy Williams’s take on Heaven’s less desirable places as well as his wry humor and keen insights.
Books Without Any Pictures
9 Sep 2012
Bobby Dollar’s character makes this novel work. He’s funny, he’s sarcastic, he’s sometimes an ass, and above all, he seems entirely human. He likes to drink, he hangs out at the pub with his friends, and he sometimes sleeps with somebody and regrets it in the morning. It’s not what you’d expect from an angel, but Tad Williams pulls it off incredibly well and uses it to reinforce the atmosphere that the book creates.
Kick Ass Book Reviews: bobby dolla holla
6 Sep 2012
Bobby Dollar is an angel. Yes, his name is Bobby Dollar AND he is a real life angel. Do angels get to choose their own street names? Anyways. In the latest urban fantasy novel by the ever popular Tad Williams, Bobby Dollar is an advocate for all of the lost souls caught between Heaven and Hell. Try not to let the idea of purgatory discourage you, it’s really quite the ride.
SF Site Reviews A Stark And Wormy Knight
by Nathan Brazil, 2 Sep 2012
A Stark and Wormy Knight is a small collection of shorter works from an author best known for his vast, sprawling, epic tales. Having previously reviewed Rite, a fine collection of Tad Williams short stories, I was very much looking forward to this volume. Some writers are naturally at home with longer stories, others excel when restricted to shorter forms, but few can manage both with equal aplomb. Tad Williams is one such author.
Rob’s Blog o’ Stuff
29 Aug 2012
My inner critic made me think that this tight focus could leave to a rather flimsy novel. I was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t. Tad doesn’t avoid the big issues – How do you get to Heaven? What is heaven like? What happens to atheists when they die? – but he does cleverly side-slip them, by pointing out that he’s given up questioning and just accepts that you can’t know everything, and that often things are rather vaguely remembered, if at all. It’s rather like saying you don’t need a detailed knowledge of anatomy or biology to be human, which is probably how most of us live our lives, anyway.