I am familiar with Tad Williams by reputation, but had not read him; I picked up the book for its description more than the author, and I have to say I understand why Williams has a following. The world-building in this urban fantasy novel is seamless. Its depth does change the experience of reading a bit. Much of the urban fantasy I read zips along like a Summer blockbuster, a light and enjoyable experience without a ton of depth. This, by contrast, is a pretty meaty book. I took the time to fully experience it, and I was glad I did. Williams may have departed from his usual genre, but he clearly brings with him the tools of a master. Right down to the infomercial playing on t.v. during one intimate scene, he creates a world of such depth and consistency that it feels completely three-dimensional, entirely real. No small feat, given that our major players include angels, demons and a cursed werepig.
In the finer tradition of urban fantasy, which owes quite a debt to film noir, Williams' characters are morally nuanced. As hinted by the title, "the dirty streets of heaven", good and evil are not so clearly delineated. Told from the tight perspective of its titular hero, it doesn't try to detail every angel or demon, but it gives enough insight to those who are closest to the hero to make it obvious that you can't judge by the trappings or even necessarily by the actions.
Inside this morally-nuanced, three-dimensional world is an engaging mystery that offers good closure. I sometimes flinch away from books that broadcast themselves as "Volume One" - I don't have the memory I once did, and epic fiction can lose me as I wait between books. I appreciate that Williams managed to leave me feeling satisfied by this story, while at the same time leaving enough open-ended in Dollar's world that I'll want to immerse again with book two.
I thought it was wonderful. I recommend.