My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Before I get into the review, I will say this: This book uses a ton of big words and is heavy into the theories of how the universe works and with a heaping dose of old-time Catholicism. It'll send most readers to wiki and Merriam Webster. If that bothers you, skip this one. This book was nothing like the Mystery Guild blurb. It was less mystery than a romp through the metaphysical world. While it wasn't what I expected, I still really enjoyed it and that's even in the face of one of my hated tropes, the unreliable narrator.
It opens with the death of Archangel Gabriel as he burns out over the sky witnessed by a potentially fallen angel, Bayliss. He has been charged with finding Gabriel's killer and find someone to jump up into his spot. Why they needed to elevate a 'monkey' (i.e. a human) to angel status is never really made clear other than 'needed a replacement.' Bayliss gives it a try and instead of his mark, he accidentally knocks the mark's companion under a train.
Molly doesn't take being dead well. The first one hundred pages are mostly Molly trying to learn how to be an angel under Bayliss's tutelage. He explains the magisterium to her, the little pocket of reality that an angel calls his/her individual home (Bayliss's is a 1930's diner and Molly's is the apartment she grew up in.) and explains the MOC, the fabric of the universe. Molly is annoyed by Bayliss's 30s crime noir slang and sensibilities (read chauvinism).
The novel flips back and forth from Molly to Bayliss. And while Bayliss is the one on the dust cover and the first point of view character, this is really Molly's story. She really is the central character. This is jammed up to its neck in theoretically physics, biochemistry, higher level math (two out of three aren't my classes in spite all my science degrees). If you don't know what plenary indulgences are, you might be brushing up on Catholic traditions.
The last third is where the unreliable narrator comes into play. (I'm sure you can guess which one). I don't want to spoil the end but it ties up satisfactorily. Afterwards I learned the author is a physics professor which clarifies a lot. It was a very interesting read.
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