I thought the writing and characterisation has been very good so far and impeccably localised in this US version (unlike the english text in the jap version of PW2, which had some typos and grammar mistakes). Lots of US cultural references, nice "gumshoe" style gruffness. It's not a comedy game, so it isn't supposed to be funny like PW. Whilst both this and PW are essentially point and click adventures, Hotel Dusk seems a *lot* more involved than PW (what with the 3D environments, objects in your inventory etc.), so I don't think it's possible to meaningfully compare the 2 - they're very different from each other.
So far I've got as far as the kid on the stairs and the writing comes across as a slightly clunkily translated localisation, as opposed to having any of the well-realised humour and wit of Phoenix Wright...