Happy Hour in Hell

The second installment in the Bobby Dollar series finds the less-than-perfect angel wings-deep in the fires of Hell on a mission to rescue his demon girlfriend, Casimira, Countess of Cold Hands. As a follow-up to Tad Williams’ series opener—The Dirty Streets of Heaven, an urban-noir mystery peppered with the crooked politics of Heaven and Hell—volume two comes across like a devilish detour. Here, Dollar is put through the ringer à la Die Hard’s John McClane, with the action colored by Williams’ imaginative take on Hell, its citizens and the endless torture therein. As Hell creeps under Dollar’s skin, it finds its way into the reader as well—a credit to the author’s subversive sadism—but the torture lasts for close to 300 pages, and before long, we want the Hell out. At a third of the pages, Dollar’s Hell quest would have been just as effective, and there would’ve been room for Williams to dive deeper into what we loved about The Dirty Streets, such as the minor characters—especially Casimira, who goes from a doomed soul with a haunting backstory to a demon in distress. Let’s hope the next book answers our burning questions, because if Williams decides to put Dollar on a detour through Heaven, the ride may be just as hellish.