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Review: Something More than Night by Ian Trigellis

By / March 8, 2014 / no comments

I’ve never read anything by Ian Trigellis before, so I didn’t have any expectations going into this book. But I went through a stage when I was really into hardboiled detective novels and film noir. I still have a soft spot for that stuff.

Something More than Night is set in Thomas Aquinas’s vision of Heaven. I will admit to not having had any exposure to the writings of Aquinas, but I was able to sort everything out. Many of the angels in this book turn out not to be particularly nice “people” and there are different factions among them, which provides for some tension.

The book switches back and forth between two points of view. Bayliss is an angel of indeterminate type; he lives like a Philip Marlowe-type character straight out of a Raymond Chandler novel: the chain smoking, the hat, the slang and patterns of speech. I thought Bayliss’s sections were a lot of fun to read. Trigellis does a remarkable job of establishing the character and having him stay “in character” throughout.

This book is set in Earth’s not-too-distant future. The cities and countries are the same (we visit Australia, Minneapolis, and Chicago). Satellite communications have largely broken down, but people are still traveling, still taking part in recognizable activities (environmental remediation, archiving paper books electronically, etc.). I thought Bayliss’s visit to a retirement/nursing home was particularly interesting and that it helped set the time period (one resident wore a Ramones t-shirt).

At the beginning of the book, the archangel Gabriel has been murdered. Bayliss has been tasked with finding someone to take Gabriel’s place in the angelic choir. He’s the sort to do the job that’s given to him without asking questions. And what he has to do is find — and arrange the death of — a human, who will then be elevated in status. Through a series of accidents, someone other than Bayliss’s initial choice dies. This is Molly, and she’s the other POV character. As might be expected of someone with her background, she retains a lot of ties to the human world. At first, she has trouble adjusting to her new existence. She causes a lot of damage and attracts the wrong sort of attention.

Bayliss and Molly work together to solve the mystery of Gabriel’s murder. A couple of events in the book seemed a bit too convenient at first (the Archangel Uriel rescues Bayliss just in the nick of time, and Molly learns how to use all her angelic powers in an instant after an encounter with a Virtue, just to name a few). But by the end of the book, you learn information that puts these events in context and you realize that Trigellis was dropping clues, all along. So the mystery part is done well.

Trigellis is a physicist and there are some fun asides about science in this book. A couple that I remember: one character splits water into hydrogen and oxygen when angry, and another character uses the properties of matter to separate coffee grounds from some soul/memory fragments that have been hidden in the coffee can. Being someone with a science background, myself, I appreciated these little bits. But they didn’t dominate, so if you’re not so scientifically-inclined, you won’t miss much.

As far as character development goes, Molly and Bayliss both have depth, although you see it in Molly all along and you don’t realize it about Bayliss, necessarily, until a big revelation close to the end of the book. Molly struggles to form and maintain human relationships despite her changed nature. She struggles to gain control of her newly-acquired powers and senses. You learn about her past, her family, her strengths and weaknesses, her hopes and fears. Bayliss is a bit of a puzzle and something of a stock character for much of the book. Suffice it to say, there’s a reason for that. Molly is definitely more relatable, I’d say, but she was a normal human until just recently. Bayliss wasn’t.

A few things didn’t work quite as well for me. There’s a character named Anne who becomes important later on; she opens up to Molly (a complete stranger) too quickly for my taste.  Also, the ending was not a strong point for me. I thought the solution to the mystery went well, but what I didn’t care for as much was what happened afterwards. It had a bit too much of a storybook feel to it, I guess.

Something More than Night is a standalone. While I would like to see more from Trigellis in this setting, I don’t see that happening because of how it ended.  At any rate, I enjoyed the reading experience quite a bit and plan to seek out some of Ian Trigellis’s earlier works.



Thanks to Tor.com for providing the book. Review written by sneakyburrito

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