A Kiss Before the Apocalypse, by Thomas E. Sniegoski
January 6, 2009
A Kiss Before the Apocalypse is about Remy Chandler, a man with some strange talents and an even more unusual background. He was once known as the angel Remiel, but he chose to leave heaven and live among humans. He can communicate with animals and become invisible by using a small amount of his former power, which comes in handy since he’s working as a private investigator. Remy has settled into a somewhat normal existence, but then he’s asked to investigate a special case by someone from his past. The Angel of Death has gone missing, which has a disturbing effect on the human race. And worse, the missing angel carries the sealed scrolls that can trigger the end of the world.
This story mixes the action and high-stakes investigation with Remy’s complicated personal life, specifically the inevitable heartache that results when an immortal falls in love with a human. So at times the potential destruction of all humanity seems to pale in comparison to the more personal loss that he’s facing.
It’s written in an accessible style, and manages to bring a few interesting things to the overdone “immortal detective” and “war between good and evil” subjects. I liked the early scenes where Remy visited his wife, and some of the side characters have a lot of potential. I loved the side-effect of the Angel of Death’s absence, and I wish that had gotten more attention.
But there were several aspects of the book that I wasn’t crazy about. I think it didn’t do the best job of getting across how ancient Remy is, especially once we learned how long ago he decided to live on earth. Our sense of his history is mostly limited to his angelic past, with the exception of his relatively recent life in Boston. Some of the more interesting parts of Remy’s story were in his past, and the reader was only told about them. I had to double check that I was reading the first book, because descriptions of some of the things that seemed important to the character (meeting his wife, revealing himself to a friend) felt like recaps of earlier stories. Also, some of the parts with Remy’s dog were a little cheesy to me, but I tend to have a fairly low tolerance for cutesy animal stuff.
One big theme was Remy’s renunciation of heaven, and how he struggled against using too much of his power because in turning back to his angelic side he risked destroying the person he had become. I thought it was the most interesting part of his internal conflict, but the end of the book mostly dealt with his human relationships. It didn’t really touch on any personal repercussions from his contact with the angels, so I hope that this thread is picked up again later.
It was a fast read and the story moved along at a good pace. I can’t say that it’s a new favorite, but I’ll definitely try the next one in the series (which is coming in April).