Ian Tregillis’ angel noir novel Something More Than Night came out way back in 2013, but don’t think I have stopped thinking about it. I was right in the middle of discovering the strange pleasure of hardboiled detective fiction from the 1940s era – think Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, etc. – when a review copy of Something More Than Night miraculously landed on my doorstep. I already knew I liked Tregillis from his Milkweed Triptych, but this scratched an itch I didn’t even know I had. It’s an odd book, one that takes some getting used to, but I thought it was bloody brilliant.
Which brings me to “When God Sits in Your Lap,” published in the September/October issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction. This novelette takes place a little before the novel. It’s about a man who hires Bayliss, our not-so-angelic angel protagonist, to check on his mother. Apparently she married some gold digger who is stealing her son’s inheritance. And like the best hardboiled detective stories, it is full of twists and turns and revelations about the human condition.
It can be read and enjoyed as a standalone, but it really kicks off if you have the novel as a foundation. Like the novel, it’s an odd yet tense story that is hard to get a grapple on but ultimately satisfying. There’s just nothing else quite like this dark little world Tregillis built. It is also – to my utmost delight – absolutely jam-packed with noir slang: “His shoes winked at me. They seemed a trustworthy pair, so I let him read me the headlines.”
“When God Sits in Your Lap” was a welcome revisit to a weird world, and I hope this isn’t the last we see of good ol’ Bayliss.