This book is one of those “what if” fantasies that uses the possibility of a something-after-death to explore the development of a character.
Eddie Coyne is a man with a gambling problem whose life is spiralling out of control when a fatal accident dumps him into limbo or purgatory or whatever you want to call it. He is not dead yet but he soon will be, and the only problem is that the scales of justice are exactly balanced, so the choice as to which afterlife he will be sent to is inconclusive. Since he is a gambling man the Jesses — the powers that rule in this place — make him a bet. For the rest of the book, he keeps trying to win the bet while the rules keep changing and the targets keep moving.
We take a dip into the Middle Ages for a Romeo and Juliet scene, fly with Amelia Earhart, and finally return to modern day as Eddie tries to save just one person from suicide. And fails, which is what keeps the action rolling.
This is a complex plot, and the ideas it deals with are complicated, so it is a book for people that like a bit of mental protein in their literature.
My only complaint is that the first two chapters, which set up Eddie’s life and personality, take far too long. The inciting incident for the conflict doesn’t come until past the 10% point in the book, which is a stretch, to say the least.
Otherwise it’s an enjoyable read, with quirky characters and an irreverent attitude. A modernized blend of Dante’s Inferno and Sartre’s Les Mouches with a touch of “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” thrown in.(4 / 5)