Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dancing On The Head Of A Pin - Thomas E. Sniegoski


Dancing On The Head Of A Pin
A Remy Chandler Novel
Thomas E. Sniegoski
Roc

Fantasy

Warning: If you haven’t read the first book in this series (A KISS BEFORE THE APOCALYPSE) this review contains serious but unavoidable spoilers. And you’ve missed a great read.

Remy Chandler is back in Boston, taking the occasional case as a PI. He’s having a hard time dealing with the death of his beloved wife, Madeline. Remy, once called Remiel, is essentially immortal, but this is the first time in his very long life that he’s had to deal with the death of someone he loved. He lives on Earth, as a human, but was once part of the host Seraphim. After the War in Heaven, during which angels slaughtered one another and so many fell, he found he couldn’t bear the aftermath and left for a life on the earthly plane.

His friend Francis is a former Guardian angel and now the guardian of a door between Hell and Earth as penance for choosing the wrong side during the War. The two found a couple of Denizens (fallen ones) who claim to be selling the body parts of an angel. The black market for such things is huge, and Remy is shocked to discover that the Denizens have the real thing. Even more shocking is the fact that the angel, a Nomad (part of the host who held themselves apart from the War, not choosing a side) is a willing participant in his own slaughter.

Before Remy can find out exactly what that means, he’s drawn into another case, hired by eccentric collector Alfred Karnighan. Karnighan claims that, despite the excellent security at his estate, pieces of his collection of weapons were stolen. These particular weapons are special. Remy soon discovers that this is no exaggeration; these weapons are known as the Pitiless: weapons forged from Heavenly material, both capable and very eager to kill anyone and anything they encounter. The question is, who could know about these weapons, and for what purpose did they take them?

These books are fantasy, but very deeply rooted in Biblical lore. Heaven and Hell are real places; the War happened and many angels fell or were cast down by God for their sins. It should be noted that readers do not have to believe in these concepts or their corresponding faiths in order to enjoy these books. Remy’s conflict is personal and real. He struggles internally to subdue his angelic nature and live as a human. Having been absent from Heaven for so long, he sees things in a different way than he would have as an angel.

Some of his angelic nature is allowed loose, such as the power to be unseen, and the power to communicate with his Black Lab, Marlowe. These scenes might have been too saccharine, but any animal lover will enjoy them, since I suspect we all believe that, on some level, we communicate with our animals. These books contain an excellent mix of mythology and action. There were scenes that were truly surprising and events that were unexpected. The outcome is never pat or trite. The reader makes the journey with Remy, seeing events unfold from his perspective, which works to great effect. There’s clearly much more story to tell, and I hope to see many more volumes in this series.

Rating: 8 ½
April 2009
ISBN# 978-0-451-46251-0 (trade paperback)

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