So last book we had a bit of a lighthearted romp (can’t believe I just typed that) in The Unnatural Inquirer. So of course Simon R. Green has to go darker in Just Another Judgement Day. This book starts out with John and Suzie drinking away a bad case in Strangefellows. A Spring heeled Jack meme invaded the Nightside from a timeslip and started completely overwrite the people it took over. It turned into a huge bloody mess that killed a lot of people. No one was happy, not even when John figured out where it was coming from and had it shut down.
So here they are, drinking and clearly wanting to be left alone when a clownishly dressed man famous for just being famous (i.e.-the Kardashians and Paris Hilton. Ugh) demands that John help him figure out what’s going on with his former party pals. These people are pretty much professional partiers. They go to all the in clubs and parties, do all the drugs, drink all the drinks and live a hard life. But his friends aren’t looking like they’re having any ill effects. They look young and healthy and vital and this poor man (with the unfortunate name of Percy d’Arcy) is aging. And he can’t get in to the health club they’re going to. An obscenely large sum of money is offered, so John and Suzie accept the case.
They head to the health spa and are almost immediately given the boot. That doesn’t stop them though. They hang around for a while, lulling the spa people into a false sense of security (good lord, I’m going for all the cliches tonight), before breaking in and finding out the secret. Someone has stabilized a timeslip and are kidnapping alternate version of the well-to-do partiers and doing a bit of reverse voodoo on them. That is to say the kidnapped people are strapped to tables and feel all the effects of anything the partiers do (drugs, alcohol, plastic surgery etc). Percy didn’t get in because his alternate was already dead in the other world.
Turns out that the (supposed) original Dr. Frankenstein was just using this place as a way to fund his ongoing and really quite horrible research. John and Suzie shut him and his creations down with prejudice and let Walker take care of the victims. Much later, having gone home after this, Walker comes around with some really bad news. One, he thinks of John as a son. Two, the Walking Man is in town and are threatening the New Authorities. Which may really be three bad things depending on who the New Authorities turn out to be.
They need John’s help and want to meet with him. Who are the New Authorities? Julien Advent (natch), Jessica Sorrow, the King of Skin, Count Video and Anne Abattoir. Sound familiar? John has a panic attack wondering what it all means before they confirm what Walker said. The Walking Man is in town, the wrath of god (literally) in the world of men. He goes anywhere and kills anything that he perceives as being evil or against god. Which in the Nightside is damn near everything. No one has ever stopped a Walking Man (its a title or position. There have been many in the past). So no pressure.
John accepts the charge by the New Authorities and heads out (with a bit of assistance from Walker) with Suzie Shooter and new character Chandra Singh (holy warrior and monster hunter extraordinaire from India) to a place called Precious Memories. This is the place where John found the Walking Man with his gift. And they are utterly appalled by the complete carnage they find. No one survived. And they don’t know why. All John and Suzie know about this place is that they’re supposed to give you memories from another person but in a way where you feel they’re yours.
Turns out, the Walking Man leaves them a recording. It contains him killing every man, woman, security guard and dog (which I am completely against. I don’t believe in bad dogs, just bad owners) in the building until he gets down to the heart of the place. There he finds possibly the most horrifying thing Green has written about because it’s something that could actually exist in this world. Children of mixed sexes and varying ages, kept in cages. I can’t really say what they did but you can guess and you can guess what the people buying the “precious memories” were really buying (ick, ick, ick). John and the others don’t feel very bad about the deaths any more.
They wait until Walker and his people can show up, trying to get the kids to respond but Suzie (with her own horrible background) is the one who connects with them. And she finds that she can touch them like she can’t bear with anyone else, because its a lot like hugging herself (*tear*). John and Chandra leave Suzie with the kids (she insists) and go after the Walking Man, heading to Clubland and the Boys Club.
This is the club for the big movers and shakers in the Nightside. They can do pretty much anything here in the safety of their club. John and Chandra meet up with the Walking Man outside. He wants to show off apparently because he invites them in with him, ignoring their attempts to sway him. He points out all the evil that the big names have done and proceeds to clean house. Chandra joins in. These people are monsters and he’s a monster hunter. John just tries to stay out of the way. In the end, he decides that the Walking Man can’t go on but that they need more information.
He and Chandra head for the Badlands (the really bad part of the Nightside, and that’s saying something). They talk to Tamsin Macready, the new rogue vicar (a post she took over from old blind Pew after the Lilith War). She doesn’t have much to stay that they don’t already know. She only suggests trying to shake his faith. With nothing else to go on, John takes them to St. Jude’s church to speak with the Lord of Thorns. He isn’t helpful either except to suggest the Speaking Gun (which John thought he destroyed but apparently it is very hard to kill).
In order to do that, he needs to go to the Street of the Gods where coincidence has it the Walking Man is. There is much carnage and a showdown with Razor Eddie before the Walking Man does what he does best and walks off in search of a new target. John gets the gun from the Gun Shop, which is on the Street of the Gods due to the fact that some people do in fact worship their weaponry. And there it is, sitting on a shelf in one of the Collector’s boxes. John takes it and gets a call from Walker as soon as he steps out of the shop. The Walking Man is nearing the Authorities, get your ass over here now John (essentially).
Walker transports John and Chandra to the Adventurers Club (the new home of the New Authorities). Many people are there, not just members of the club, to defend the New Authorities (and to see some violence, lets be honest here people). John and Chandra meet with the New Authorities and tell them the big, awful plan: use the Speaking Gun and pray it works. No one is happy, especially when the Walking Man actually shows up.
He marches through all the security protections, magical and scientific, and takes out a few club members before coming face to face with John and the Speaking Gun. John just can’t use it though. It is too awful and it would cost him too much, damn what is left of his soul. Chandra grabs the gun, thinking he can use it but he experiences the same thing. He just can’t. So the Walking Man destroys the gun. Again.
In the end, John puts himself between the Walking Man and the Authorities. He’s unarmed and unwilling to fight back. He doesn’t want to die but he believes in the New Authorities. He won’t make it easy on the Walking Man, who just shrugs in acceptance and tries to shoot John. And tries to shoot him. And tries to shoot him. Despite his guns being fully loaded (they’re revolvers and John can see the bullets), the guns don’t fire.
It turns out that as tarnished as John us, he was ‘innocent’ in the eyes of god as he was unarmed and stood up for what he believed in. Why has no one else caught onto this catch in the impenetrable armor that is the Walking Man. With his power broken, the Walking Man is just a man again. And there was much rejoicing. Yay. Until, of course, John finds out that Walker (both a father figure and an enemy) is dying. And cut! That’s where Green leaves off. What will happen next? We find out in The Good, The Bad, and the Uncanny, which I am off to read.
This book gives us a look at a character that Simon R. Green has mention in a few other series. He really likes to interweave his stories, which I love. It’s an okay book but it was really a way to set up the next book. Still, it had some good bits in it and is worth the read. Rating: B-.