Page 45 Review by Stephen
Russell has breathed such life and colour into Gaiman's story-within-a-story that it's hard to remember how clever it was in the first place.
Ten years after the event, the English narrator recalls how as a young man he was once stranded in Los Angeles. He hooked up with a girl he'd met briefly in London but like most of us his memory is only sure about certain sequences. Quite how he came to be sitting on a bench with an older man, he's not sure. But in exchange for a cigarette, the stranger tells him his story, set in the celestial Silver City, as God instructs his angels on the creation of the universe.
"The sky above the city was a wonderful thing. It was always light, although lit by no sun -- lit, perhaps by the city itself -- but the quality of the light was forever changing. Now pewter-coloured light, then brass, then a gentle gold, or a soft and quiet amethyst..."
Lucifer visits him and instructs him on his Function:
"You are Raguel. The Vengeance of The Lord. There has been a... a Wrong Thing."
An angel, Carasel, has been killed, and Raguel must find out how and why; then he must perform his Function.
Gaiman's vision of heaven is wittily conceived, as the angels go about working on their projects, creating 'regret', 'sleep', 'agitation' under the guidance of Phanuel. It soon transpires that the dead angel, Carasel, was last working on the concept of 'Death' with his partner Saraquael. Did he become overly involved in his own work? Did he want to experience that which he was working on? Or did it have more to do with their last project, for which Phanuel took all the credit? In any case, why would God allow this to happen, and how much does it have to do with Lucifer, walking alone in The Dark?
This is a murder mystery so, although it breaks my heart, I cannot reveal any more.
But I can implore you to take a look yourself because you know how I feel about THE FAIRY TALES OF OSCAR WILDE's P. Craig Russell, and if you enjoyed his collaboration with Gaiman on THE GRAVEYARD BOOK GRAPHIC NOVEL, CORALINE or SANDMAN: DREAM HUNTERS you will not be disappointed. His illumination of the Silver City - pure, translucent, with its own lambent glow - is every bit as exquisite as you'd expect.
As for the angels, if you like your men young, winged, naked - and without genitalia - then this one's for you.