Book Review and Short Story Update

Do to the circumstances of life, the “Log of the El Dorado” has been pushed back to the end of September. However, I do have a book review, which I’m including here.

Where Angels Fear to Tread

By Thomas E. Sniegoski

 I will be the first to admit I’m a very particular reader. I tend to stray wildly across the genre-scape and like to think that what attracts me to my favorite books is good writing. Of course, what reader doesn’t? For an example of this straying, I love Butcher’s Dresden Files but couldn’t stand Green’s Nightside books.

            That being said, I read the back cover of Sneigoski’s book and was captured. An angel who wants to be human and pretends to be while working as a PI in Boston, well, how does that not sound awesome? I flipped through the first few pages in the bookstore and the clear nods to Raymond Chandler (one of the original noir writers) hooked me even more. I couldn’t wait to get home and get started on the book.

            I wound up reading it over the course of a weekend and while I think there are a lot of good points, there were also some lows that have convinced me to wait for a few more Remy Chandler books to come out before getting back into them.

            The bad. Most of the characters came across as very flat. Remy presents a compelling character as an angel trying to be human, but his motives for this compulsion are either very well hidden, very shallow, or were presented elsewhere and I missed it by starting on the third book of the series. His cop friend, Mulvane, is perfectly set up to provide interesting and humorous banter, but tends to miss the mark more often than not and for some reason gets very little scene time. Speaking of scenes, they tend to run short and feel a little rough. The dialogue is driven by the need to forward the plot and conversations come across as the bare minimum needed. I also felt that I was either old or out of touch with society, there were quite a few places where I felt like I should be laughing but I just didn’t get it. I also felt by the end that either I hadn’t been paying attention or not everything was explained very well, as I felt lost with a lot of the characters.

            The above may sound harsh and overly critical. But take it with a grain of salt and check out the good. The concept is really incredible and has a ton of potential. The interplay between Remy and Marlowe (Remy’s Labrador) is wonderfully written and practically leaps off the page with a vibrant sense of life. I personally found it the most enjoyable parts of the book. The plot was well conceived and kept on track, and there was enough side plot to keep you wondering where everything was going and how it would tie in at the end. Sniegoski also provides enough details to show that he’s done research and background work, but doesn’t sacrifice the pace of the story to showing off how much of it was done. While the ending was predictable, it was also neatly brought together and mostly satisfying.

            I probably won’t rush to buy the next Remy Chandler book immediately, but I will be keeping an eye on the series. I think there is an enormous amount of potential in this series and I think most of the bad points I hit are areas that are going to get better as Sniegoski becomes a more experienced and polished writer. For those of you who feel skeptical, I would remind you of the first books in the Dresden Files. They are rough and unpolished and if you read Ghost Story and then Storm Front the improvement is incredible. Sniegoski is a good writer, with a solid grasp of the craft, and he tells a fast paced and interesting story. For those of you on the fence, grab a copy, give it a read, and keep an eye on this guy. It’s only going to get better from here.

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