Literature / Bobby Dollar

Bobby Dollar is an Urban Fantasy series written by Tad Williams. The angel Doloriel is an Advocate, one of several angels tasked with representing mortals' souls in a court-style argument with a demon after the mortal dies. The series kicks off after one person's soul disappears mysteriously, and neither Heaven nor Hell knows where the soul went. The series currently comprises three books: The Dirty Streets of Heaven, Happy Hour in Hell and Sleeping Late on Judgement Day.

This series provides examples of:

  • Badass: Bobby, Caz, Temuel, Smyler, Riprash, Karael.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Poor George/Fatback.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Totally averted with Riprash who is hideous in the extreme, and probably the nicest guy in all of Hell.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Who would believe it but Smyler fulfills this role a few times in Happy Hour in Hell, the last time sees him decide that he wants to save Bobby rather than kill him, gutting Commissar Niloch and then slaughtering his men in a battle that Bobby does not see the end of, but it's worth noting that Smyler's opponents were dropping like flies as he hacked through them.
  • Black Widow: You probably shouldn't assume that nice Victorian lady hostess is in Hell for jaywalking.
  • Celestial Bureaucracy: Heaven. In the first book alone, there is an archangel supervising Bobby Dollar, a rotating group of judges for immortal souls, higher angels who supervise Bobby's boss and pass judgment on Bobby Dollar's performance. There is also a Hall of Records, and it is implied that there are many, many levels of bureaucracy between the Highest (God) and Bobby. It also becomes clear that it's a corrupt bureaucracy.
  • Circles of Hell: Way more than in the Inferno, and set up like a stack of fruitcake tins.
  • Crapsack World: And even more crapsack afterlife. Heaven's not all that heavenly, but hell is thoroughly hellish. And where you end up for all eternity is at least somewhat dependent on your celestial judge's mood and advocate's skill.
  • Cynical Mentor: Leo (and to a lesser extent, Sam), to Bobby.
  • Dating Catwoman: Sort of. You've got an angel dating a demon, but since this is basically supernatural Film Noir, it's more like the Anti-Hero dating a Femme Fatale (who also has elements of Damsel in Distress).
  • Determinator: Bobby. Smyler. The Ghallu. Commissar Niloch, to an extent.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Bobby realises that Hell is this. In particular he's bothered by the fact that some have been sent there, to suffer an eternity of extreme torture, for relatively minor offences with no account taken of exculpatory circumstances or even because they happen to have been unlucky enough to have been unborn when their pregnant mother died and was damned. Even for the truly evil he thinks that eternity is over the top and that a few hundred years of what goes on in hell should be punishment enough for anyone. Made worse when he discovers that the system is corrupt and that angels sometimes send people there just to get them out of the way.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male Averted. When it happens, the victim is explicit about just how violating it is. The fact that said female's private parts have more in common with a poisonous jellyfish, MUCH MORE, than actual human genitalia just makes it worse.
  • Fantastic Noir
  • Fat Bastard: Prince Sitri.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Eligor.
  • Fluffy Cloud Heaven: When he visits Heaven, Bobby Dollar has to hold onto his frustration and anger. In Heaven, happiness is mandatory.
  • Hellevator: Actually, two in "Happy Hour in Hell:" one that goes down to the bridge that leads into Hell, and one within Hell itself. The latter, toward the lower levels, gets... very unpleasant, at least for Bobby.
  • Ill Boy: The Broken Boy.
  • Love Makes You Dumb/Love Makes You Crazy: Pretty much what everyone thinks about Bobby's determination to literally go to Hell after his lady love. Even Bobby concedes that they have a point.
  • MacGuffin: In the first two books a feather belonging to a higher angel. Implied that in the third book it will be a horn tip belonging to Eligor, Grand Duke of hell.
  • Mysterious Past: The angels, at least those on Earth, know they used to be mortal but have no memory of it. Starts to become a plot point in the the third book where it's very strongly hinted that Bobby's past has some significance to what's going on. He ends the third book vowing to investigate.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Eligor the Horseman, the Commissar of Wings and Claws, Lady Zinc, the Mastema, the Purified
  • Order Versus Chaos: The division between Heaven and Hell is more this than Good versus Evil. While Hell is definitely evil Bobby observes that it's also far more alive than Heaven which is a Crapsaccharine World where the saved are happy because their memories and personalities have been wiped.
  • Our Angels Are Different: And split into many, many different types. Bobby and his co-workers are low-level angels borrowing human bodies. They drink, smoke, and swear regularly. Once you get above Bobby's supervisors, the angels... vary. Some are male, some are female, some are neither (or both), and it is implied that not all of them are benevolent. Which is confirmed in the third book as well as the fact that not all angels have always been angels. Anaita, for example, used to be a Persian fertility goddess.
  • Our Demons Are Different: Hell has three kinds of residents: the fallen angels; the damned, who are either converted into demons or tortured souls or both; and, rarely, the odd soul who's *born* there.
  • Our Werebeasts Are Different: Fatback who by night is a pig with a human mind and vice versa during the day.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Temuel, Bobby's boss, speaks on his behalf when high-ranking angels investigate Bobby after souls disappear. Averted by most of the "authority" figures in Hell like Commissar Niloch and The Block.
  • Slasher Smile: Smyler practically embodies this trope.
  • Snark Knight: Bobby. Also a Knight in Sour Armor.
  • Take a Third Option: The whole point of the Third Way.
  • Tsundere: Caz could be the poster girl for them, one minute she's hitting Bobby and calling him "A [insert curse word here] idiot" and the next she's tearing his clothes off.
  • The Woobie: Poor poor Smyler. Conceived when his father raped his mother, he was routinely beaten, abused and tormented by his mother who regarded him as evil and wrong for being a child of rape, always telling him to "smile because God loves you." Cue years later when he becomes a serial killer and kills people because he genuinely believes that by murdering them he is sending a gift to God and the angels, though when he is killed in a car wreck and resurrected by Hell to start killing people again, it is the latter that hunt him down and trap his soul. And that's before he even appears in the series...

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Literature/BobbyDollar