Monday, March 30, 2009

A Kiss Before The Apocalypse - Thomas E. Sniegoski


A Kiss Before The Apocalypse
Thomas E. Sniegoski
Roc

Fantasy

Remy Chandler is not your average private investigator. Once upon a time, he was Remiel, one of the Seraphim. After the war in Heaven, when many angels fell, Remy was disillusioned and decided to try living as a human, suppressing his angelic nature and powers. He retains some powers, like the ability to will himself invisible, which comes in quite handy in his work as a PI. He can also communicate with animals, which comes in handy when dealing with his black Lab, Marlowe.

During what looks like an ordinary divorce case, Remy follows a middle-aged guy and his secretary to a seedy motel. Moments after the door closes, he hears gunshots. In the room, the woman is dead and the man is ready to kill himself. He talks about dreaming of the end of the world and how the woman agreed to end her life this way, with him. Even more disturbing, at the last moment, before he pulls the trigger on himself, he recognizes Remy for what he is. Or, for what he was.

Most disturbing of all, although Remy saw both bodies and knows that no one could have survived their injuries, these two don’t die. According to his friend, homicide detective Steven Mulvehill, the same thing is happening all over the city. People who should be dead, aren’t. There’s only one explanation for this, and it terrifies Remy. The Angel of Death has gone off duty. Further investigation reveals that the scrolls are missing. Those scrolls with the seals that, once broken, bring down the Apocalypse and end everything.

The twist in this tale, and the emotional punch, comes from the fact that Remy’s wife of forty-some years is near death. Although he’s immortal, Remy is as anguished about her death as any human husband would be. And he knows that, if he restores the Angel of Death to his duties, it will only be to lose to love of his life. Between this, and the scenes where he has to try and explain it all to Marlowe, as you would to a very small child, there’s a lot more raw emotion here than is usual in a fantasy.

The ‘fantasy’ world is absolutely our own. Remy lives and works in Boston. He lives as a human, and hides his nature from all but his wife and Mulvehill. For his part, Mulvehill isn’t too sure how much he really wants to know about it all, which seems like a completely logical reaction to me. The ‘mythos’ here are rooted strictly in the Bible. God, angels, Seraphim, fallen angels, demons, penance and redemption are all taken from the Judeo-Christian traditions. I wasn’t sure this would work for me as a fantasy, but the author used it all to brilliant effect. This has to be one of the best fantasy novels I’ve read in some time. I can’t wait to get to the next one.

Rating: 9
April 2009
ISBN# 978-0-451-46205-3 (trade paperback)

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