New, independent fantasy from the author of the fine Milkweed Triptych (Necessary Evil, 2013, etc.)—and it’s a doozy.
Imagine a gumshoe noir yarn, embedded in a fundamentally theology-free medieval heaven underpinned by known or extrapolated scientific cosmological theory. Further posit that a minor fallen angel named Bayliss has assumed the persona of Philip Marlowe—why? Eventually readers will find out—and that as the story opens, he watches the death of the angel Gabriel spread across the skies of Earth in a spectacular shower of meteors and particles. Bayliss has been ordered by his superiors in the angelic Choir to recruit a replacement—someone pliable and not too bright. And the victim must die before being resurrected as an angel. So, Bayliss arranges an accident—but instead of his chosen dupe, he kills Molly Pruett, a highly intelligent, strong-willed and stunning redhead. Bayliss, being Marlowe, thinks of Molly as his client and carefully tells her little of what she needs to know to assume her angelic mantle. Impossible as it seems, Gabriel was murdered, somebody has stolen the Jericho Trumpet, and Bayliss is determined to find out why. The trail leads him to Father Santorelli, who’s been handing out powerful plenary indulgences—get out of hell free cards. Molly, meanwhile, after a series of mishaps and a scolding from METATRON, the Voice of God, learns that the recipients of the indulgences cannot sleep for fear of the terrible dreams of angelic violence that now plague them. All this barely scratches the surface of what’s going on here, as Molly (and the reader) gradually comes to realize that Bayliss may not be the most reliable of narrators and that his Marlowe persona is one part of a vast, intricate plot a billion years in the making.
Superlatives seem superfluous. Instead...wow. Just—wow.