Something More Than Night
by Ian Tregillis
Tom Doherty Assoc., $16.99, 381pp
Release Date: December 3, 2013
Ian Tregilllis is one of those writers who have more than one song in their repertoire; able to generate really original ideas and stories. And he is one of my most favorite new writers.
This story started off with an air of comedy despite the death of our heroine, Molly. It got more serious as she tried to come to grips with the fact she was now an angel. The comedy was provided by the narrator, Bayliss, a supposed fallen angel. After the improbable, and supposedly impossible, death of the angel Gabriel, Bayliss was tagged with finding a replacement. His choice was actually her brother but she got in the way and got dead first. Bayliss has been on earth so long, he’s taken on the persona of Philip Marlowe so his dialogue is rife with ‘40’s slang; it helps to salve the indignity of living amongst the ‘monkeys.’ Bayliss is concerned with the ‘why’ of the apparent murder of Gabriel and does a noir-P.I. investigation causing many of the angelic Choir to take it rather personally. Bayliss also fails to properly prepare Molly for her new existence (although it was admittedly difficult with her anger at him for killing her) causing her to try a forbidden act and incurring the wrath of METATRON, the Voice of God. METATRON’s reaction caused the destruction of most of the Choir’s personal residences in the Pleroma. Bayliss warned her to stay clear of the Pleroma and to focus on following clues on Earth as to why Gabriel was murdered.
Molly is still in touch with her human side and desperately trying to help her grief-stricken brother and an ex-lover in a coma while following up on a group of humans who seem to have some connection with the Pleroma, causing depression and suicide. A straightforward murder mystery with anything but straightforward characters or motivations. I think most of us are okay with the concept that angels are unknowable, which is the tack that Tregillis takes. He peppers the story with difficult prose to explain the unknowable; which was slightly off-putting through most of the middle of the story. I admit I was getting a little tired of trying to understand the unknowable without being able to see the story moving forward. I also had a bit a trouble with the concept that Molly’s fundamental nature was changed into an angel, but her mind was still human. I don’t think it would happen like that a change to her very nature should have an equal effect on her mind/soul. And then, near the end, there was an abrupt transition that I felt was distracting and a bit of a cheat by the author. Once past that, the end sped along at warp speed. And finally….a climax that was unexpected, a resolution that I should have seen coming, and a satisfyingly vengeful end. I wish I could discourse on the resolution and how brilliant it was; how clever the author was at leaving tiny clues but if I did, I’d be cheating you of the experience. Despite not liking everything, this was a book to be experienced and I do recommend it. If nothing else, you need an introduction to Ian Tregillis. ~~ Catherine Book