Staff Review: Something More Than Night – Ian Tregillis

Reviewed by JeroenW

The angel Gabriel has been murdered, even though he’s immortal. As his corpse streaks across the heavens – disturbing the weather and the dreams of us mortals – Bayliss, the only angel who lives on Earth, is already looking for his replacement. He just needs a placeholder, someone who doesn’t ask questions. When he finds a suitable lowlife junkie, he instead selects the guy’s sister by accident. And she’s the nosy type.

Something More Than Night is written from the viewpoint of two characters; there’s Bayliss, who talks like he’s Sam Spade with a degree in quantum physics, even though the story takes place sometime halfway through the 21st century; and Molly, the ‘dame’ who has to take Gabriel’s place in heaven.

Bayliss’s chapters can be a bit chewy, as they’re written almost completely in gumshoe lingo, interspersed with science-speak. You’ll be hard-pressed to read them in something else than Humphrey Bogart’s drawl. Molly is your standard plucky-but-not-annoyingly-so heroine; she could have used a bit more depth.

As for the story: it’s basically a classic mystery. It takes a bit long to gain momentum. After a phenomenal first few pages, and a great first chapter (you can read it here) it slows down for a good 80 pages, but after that the investigation into Gabriel’s murder gets going in earnest. I won’t give anything away, but there’s a few twists and turns at the end that I didn’t see coming.

All in all, it’s quite enjoyable. Ian Tregillis‘s version of heaven is unlike anything you’ve seen before, and his version of Earth somewhere in the year 2060 (the exact year is never made clear) is made quite believable by the fact that even though the world has changed in a few drastic ways, people still act like people. I’ll definitely check out Tregillis’s Milkweed Triptych (Bitter Seeds, The Coldest War and Necessary Evil) after this.

JeroenW is ABC The Hague’s Science Fiction & Fantasy, Film & TV Tie-Ins and Graphic Novels buyer.  More Staff Reviews can be found here.

Ebooks available for Bitter Seeds, The Coldest War and Necessary Evil.