Happy Hour In Hell is the second Bobby Dollar book and it picks up pretty directly from where the second left off, so it’s not the best starting point.
The Bobby Dollar books are a sort of noir urban fantasy with a major focus on heaven and hell. In fact this second book doesn’t really quite meet the urban fantasy criteria since it’s 90% set in Hell.
Tad Williams has a firm grip on the noir character and voice and his vision of hell is most certainly grotesque. He manages to steer clear of most of the stereotypes and creates a multi-leveled hell that really feels like it could be the ultimate torture chamber.
He also doesn’t, I’m pleased to say, duck the substantial question of why God would create such a place and doom people to exist there. He doesn’t answer the question mind you, but at least his characters ask it.
This book isn’t going to sit well with people who are sensitive about their religion, because it does fall back on the old notion that Heaven and angels are sort of like a collection of politicians and bureaucrats. So they don’t come off very well really. It’s not a remotely original idea, but to be fair, for the core conceit of the series to work you really need that sort of set up.
I always enjoy Williams’ writing. It’s crisp and effective. He doesn’t belabor things but he uses descriptions effectively. There are a few problems here though.
The biggest is the “twist” ending which you will see coming a mile off. I guess it sets the stage for book three, but it makes our hero look like and idiot because it’s so obvious to the reader what is going on.
But the other problem is more of a nagging one. Hell as presented by Williams is unpleasant. And we spend a lot of time in that unpleasant environment. Honestly I have to say it wore on me and I enjoyed the present day city scenes much more.
That said, and with the caveat that Tad Williams does not shy away from the sexually explicit any more than he does from the gore, I do recommend reading this series if you enjoy this sort of urban fantasy material.
Happy Hour In Hell will be published on September 3rd 2013. http://amzn.to/146PEyj