Dancing on the Head of a Pin: A Remy Chandler Novel
by Thomas E. Sniegoski
Review by Drew Bittner
Roc Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451462510
Date: 07 April 2009 List Price $14.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
In A Kiss Before the Apocalypse, author Thomas Sniegoski introduced Remy Chandler—a Boston private eye with an unusual history. Back in the day, Remy was Remiel, a warrior angel who walked away from Heaven, took on a human identity and even fell in love. He managed to avert the Apocalypse but lost the one that gave his mortal existence meaning.
Now, in Dancing on the Head of a Pin, the stakes are even higher.
Remy is struggling to overcome deep depression with the help of his police detective friend and his loyal dog Marlowe. It's not enough. Desperate for any distraction, he takes on an odd case: a theft of four improbable killing implements from a billionaire art collector. A pistol, a pair of knives, a sword and an axe, they comprise a quartet of antiques for which many would happily kill. But who has them and why?
Remy finds that this case is much more than it seems. He seeks information among the Nomads—-angels who left Heaven after Lucifer's rebellion failed—-but their cryptic words (and invitation to join them) do little to ease his curiosity. He has better luck with Francis, a former colleague now turned jailer to the Inferno, who tells him some interesting if disquieting secrets about the four items, and he gets some assistance from the hapless "parolee" Madach, a former renegade angel now working construction jobs.
Someone is seeking these objects for a dark purpose. If Remy cannot find out what's happening, and how to stop it, there might literally be hell to pay.
Sniegoski delivers a strong sequel in Dancing..., with Remy's grief and recovery adding greater depth to this character. Many novels show the end of a great love; this novel goes beyond that, showing what happens afterward. Sniegoski makes Remy's emotional turbulence meaningful and moving, as well as building up a lacking element from the first novel: why Remy clings so hard to his mortal self when it would be easier (and safer) to give up and embrace his Heavenly aspect. I won't spoil that but it was an element missing from the original for which he more than makes up here.
The supporting cast gets put through the wringer as well, with Francis having a couple of epic fight scenes (plus a harrowing final showdown of his own) and Madach facing a moment of truth deep in the bowels of Hell. The Nomads' role in things develops slowly but surely—-though only their leader Suroth has an individual personality—-and the nature of the true threat only gradually reveals itself. The story is well paced and plotted, with no slack in the pages.
Readers looking for urban fantasy that offers something new will enjoy the second installment of this series perhaps more than the first.