Sleeping Late On Judgement Day
by Tad WilliamsBobby Dollar is an angel in trouble. The third novel in the Bobby Dollar trilogy sees him up to his neck in danger and despair: his girlfriend is stuck in Hell, he's made powerful enemies in Heaven, Hell, and the real world, and his friends are increasingly deserting him.
Bobby barely escaped Hell in his quest to free Caz, his demonic girlfriend, from eternal damnation, and he didn't get what he wanted. And whilst attempting that he broke many rules that would upset his heavenly masters. Although Bobby is an angel, he's very low down in the celestial hierarchy and has few powers of his own. When an earthbound angel dies they generally get assigned a new body by Heaven so they can start their job all over again, but Bobby isn't convinced that would happen to him, at least not with his memories intact. He's convinced someone in Heaven wants him to disappear. Bobby knows too much about a secret deal between a higher angel and a duke of Hell, so both sides would prefer him to be silenced. Unfortunately for Bobby he knows enough to get him into trouble, but not enough for it to be any use to him.
This novel sets up a lot of mysteries which get deeper and twistier as the story progresses. What has happened to Sam, Bobby's angelic friend who is involved in a mysterious Third Way, a place for souls to go that isn't Heaven or Hell? Why is Bobby's apartment haunted? Why are some of his contacts afraid to talk to him? Why is he being pursued by a violent group of Nazi-like thugs known as the Black Sun? Where is the demon Eligor's horn, a symbol of a pact between him and a rogue angel, being hidden? And can Bobby trust Temuel, his angelic boss, who keeps turning up in San Judas in different bodies in order to give him messages?
In his travels Bobby meets a number of new faces including the weird scholar Gustibus, a fount of knowledge who surrounds himself with nuns. At the other end of the spectrum are Halyna and Oxana, a pair of feisty young eastern Europeans who love guns, fast food, and hunting the Black Sun. The Amazons, as Bobby calls them, manage to make him feel old in spirit, if not in body, with their sheer enthusiasm for life. If anything, Sleeping Late On Judgement Day is funnier than the previous two novels, and a lot of that is down to the sparky dialogue between Bobby and the Amazons. Bobby's dry, black humour is undiminished throughout the novel, and if anything it gets sharper when he's in a tough spot.
The pacing builds up as Bobby veers from hopeless situation to crazy hopeless situation, driven by his reckless need for answers and his less reckless need not to die permanently. But underneath that he harbours a deep sense of loss over Caz, and also his guilt about getting his close friends and other nearby innocents into trouble. So Tad Williams has created a character who may be very snarky, but who is also sympathetic. The book has its share of touching scenes to punctuate the demonic brink-of-Armageddon action. This is one story that did keep me up late wanting to know whether Bobby would get out of his predicaments and find anything close to a happy ending. I won't spoil it by saying which way the ending turned out, but the third instalment of this satisfying series was powerfully moving.
8th June 2017
Review © Ros Jackson
Source: review copy