by Simon Kurt Unsworth
"Welcome to Hell, sir."
A story set in Hell, where a delegation of Angels have come to help investigate a blue flash, which usually indicates a 'fallen'. Hell is populated by humans and demons, both of whom can be killed, though that doesn't mean they can't be questioned... as long as they still have their soul.
Fool, an 'information man' and his friend and colleague Gordie set out to investigate the cause death of a man and the real cause of the blue flash. Not all deaths are investigated, and in fact violence and death are all too common.
The narrative paints an intriguing landscape of Hell, it's rules and the men, demons and other creatures who populate the place. The sex and violence are not what I would consider overdone, but there is occasional grossness or shock value in context of the story. This is Hell after all, it's not a pleasant place.
The one thing I didn't like about it was that there are no chapters. Once you're sucked into in Hell, you're there to stay!
There is a brilliant quote that says a lot about morality in Hell, and reminds me of gossip networks here on Earth:
"Whether it's true or not doesn't matter, of course, because those humans saw what they have waited for a long time to see, a human challenge a demon and win. Who cares about the truth when they have a story like that, Fool, eh? And stories, like me, they grow, don't they? You, above all, should know that."
Something to think about next time to hear something about somebody, but haven't witnessed it first hand!
The world building in this is as detailed as any good Fantasy novel. The oppressive feeling of Hell comes across well and the social parameters are well defined. I found the main characters likeable and the ending satisfying. It's nice to read something that doesn't blatantly set up for a sequel, although there is room for further adventures.
A good strong 4.5 stars.