Forces from Beyond

Courtesy of Amazon.comObligatory SPOILERS warning because this book is really, really new. I just finished the last of Simon R Green’s Ghost Finders novels, Forces from Beyond. This series features the folks of the Carnacki Institute, who deal with those who just won’t lay down and die already. The books revolve around one team made up of JC Chance, ‘Happy’ Jack Palmer and Melody Chambers.

JC is sort of like Faceman from the A-Team, smooth, suave, well-dressed and charming with it. He lives with his ghost girlfriend Kim. No, I don’t feel like elaborating. Read the books. 😉 JC is the team leader because he’s that sort of guy.

Jack Palmer is the team telepath. In order to keep himself functioning in a sane way, he pumps himself full of drugs which could probably kill an elephant. He lives with the team tech geek, Melody Chambers. From the sound of it, they have a really interesting sex life. Jack’s nickname of Happy is heavily ironic.

In this book, we find out that Happy is dying. No surprise given his drug problem, but it really seems to be just around the corner here. The Carnacki Institute is hoping to have him for one last push against the final boss, the Flesh Undying. We know it’s the last push because Carnacki Institute boss Catherine Latimer is behind what goes on in the book.

I don’t want to get into this plot in too much detail since it’s so new but I do feel that the book was rather rushed. I feel like he really could have stretched out this Flesh Undying arc into another two or even three books. It seemed like because he’s having some health difficulties, he’s decided to just get his series over with as soon as possible.

While that might work well with the Nightside or the Secret Histories, which are rather winding down naturally, it didn’t work so well with the Ghost Finders. I found this a rather meh series to begin with but the kind of Scooby Doo ending in this one just left me going “Wait, that’s it?”.

So yeah, if you’ve read the others in this series, totally go ahead and round it out. I really hate leaving books unfinished unless I find them truly godawful but I almost wish I hadn’t read this book at all. I have re-read a lot of Simon R. Green’s books but I don’t think this will be one of them. Rating: C-. Not worth the price, luckily I believe I bought this with birthday money.

Ghost Finders

Courtesy of goodreads.comSo I love Simon R. Green. He’s one of my all time favorite authors. It saddens me that he’s wrapping up his amazing series before he’d planned to because he has diabetes and he’s afraid he’ll leave his fans hanging. I’m not sure if his diabetes is currently manageable or life threatening, but its sad that he feels he has to do that. On the other hand, when it comes to his Ghost Finders series…I’m kinda okay with it. I’d classify this more as an urban horror/fantasy than a straight up urban fantasy novel, if only because Simon R. Green can get amazingly graphic with his descriptions.

The Ghost Finders work for the Carnacki Institute. Their job is to deal with ghosts and all ghostly related situations in Britain. Apparently this is quite the job. Our three main characters are JC Chance, “Happy” Jack Palmer and Melody Chambers. JC is your typical smooth, charming leader type. In the first book, he gets touched by something from the Outside and now hides a strange golden gaze with a pair of sunglasses.

Happy Jack isn’t very happy at all. Its an ironic nickname, like calling a tall man Tiny. Happy is a telepath, a very strong one. He’s also a coward, and the combination leads to him trying everything and anything chemical to be able to live with himself and the voices he hears. He’s currently sleeping with teammate Melody Chambers, who firmly believes that her tech can do and should do everything they could possibly think of on a mission. And she gets mighty pissed when it doesn’t. She’s a kick-ass tech geek who doesn’t take anyone’s shit.

I like those three characters. I like the dialogue he gives them and the way that he writes them as a dysfunctional buy loyal team. Their cases, though, are only mildly interesting. And there’s some sort of overarching conspiracy going on that I just can’t be arsed to care about. He could wrap this series up tomorrow honestly. I’ll still read it, but it’s more of a ‘Oh, I don’t have anything else to read and there’s a new Ghost Finders out’ sort of way than a ‘OMG, new Simon R. Green!’ sort of way.

If you really want good Simon R. Green, go for the Deathstalker series, the Nightside series and the Secret Histories series. Oh, and Hawk & Fisher natch. The nice thing about Simon is that all of his stories are subtly connected. Its amazing. Every time I read one of his books and he’s slipped in something from another novel, I have a fan girl squee moment. So, those are great. The Ghost Finders? I’d say Rating: CNot great but not unreadable.

Spirits From Beyond

Oh Simon R Green. How I love thee. Even though your Ghostfinders books aren’t quite as good as the Nightside, Secret Histories, Deathstalker and Hawk & Fisher novels. They’re still a right side better than a lot of the schlock on the market today. It continually amazes me how Green can pump out such original stories. And I absolutely love how he can twine together all of his stories with some little in thing like the Rainbow Road or what not.

Now, on to Spirits From Beyond. This is the latest Ghostfinders book, just released within the last few weeks so be warned there be SPOILERS here. Spirits opens up with our beloved cocky-arse JC Chance (kind of an unwieldy name in my opinion) alone in his bedroom attempting and failing to sleep. Ever since his ghostly girlfriend Kim disappeared a few books back, he’s been something of an insomniac apparently.

So here’s poor JC, trying to bully his brain into letting him finally sleep when lo and behold! Kim turns up at the foot of the bed. She tells him that he must come fight for her at the Chimera House (where she disappeared) or she’ll never be able to come home to him.  So of course that means he calls up teammates “Happy” Jack Palmer and Melody Chambers. Luckily he does not call them mid-shag as Melody has rigged up some tech so any call JC makes to them immediately transfers to his TV.

JC gives them what low-down he can and breaks every traffic law known to man to get get to their place and then Chimera House. To be fair, he’s doing this in London and that’s not really out of the ordinary. 😉 At any rate, they get to Chimera House, which is still standing despite the previous promise from big boss Catherine Latimer that it would be torn down. So it is, of course, the perfect place for a trap by the fiendish (and still not directly seen) Flesh Undying.

Luckily for our Ghostfinding friends, or unluckily for the Flesh Undying, the trap fails. Instead of waking the ghost of an uber-powerful proto-god from another dimension, the Ghostfinders make a friend when they help him pass over, as one might expect from a Ghostfinder. By this point, the Flesh Undying should really learn not to underestimate these guys. But that wouldn’t make the books nearly as fun to read.

Once they’ve dispatched this god, JC Chance gets fired up. He’s tired of stumbling around in the dark, worried about moles in the Carnacki Institute and what his boss is up to, he takes the troops on a field trip to the Secret Libraries of the Carnacki Institute. Supposedly there are all sorts of books people really shouldn’t have or read there. Technically speaking, the team is not supposed to get in there until they have the official go-ahead from Latimer, but that has never stopped JC Chance before.

Their little soiree into the Libraries catches Latimer’s attention, and not in a good way. The team is blundering about, making waves and disrupting her own secret investigations into the traitor(s?) of the Institute. So she packs them all off to the southwest to deal with a haunted inn. Like you do.

The King’s Arms is located in fictional town Bishop’s Fording. The inn sounds a bit like Strangefellows in the Nightside in that its has been around in one form or another for so long nobody can remember it not being there. Unfortunately, the King’s Arms is located in a Bad Place. Something so terribly evil happened there at some point that it keeps spawning terrible events such as suicides and mysteriously missing guests etc.

The owner of the inn used to work for Carnacki before retiring, though never as a ghostfinder. He was raised in Bishop’s Fording and has a history with the town and with the inn. He requested JC and his team and got much more than he bargained for. What happens at the inn? Read it and find out!

This book, Spirits from Beyond, is much better than the previous books in this series but we’re still no closer to getting answers to the questions the team has been asking? What is the Flesh Undying and how do they beat it? Who is the traitor in the Institute? And what exactly happened to JC down in the London Underground? I have a feeling that we might be getting some answers in the next book, because there was a tantalizing little bit of dangling bait at the end of this book that hints to both a new book and, possibly, some answers. Eventually.

Worth the read, I’d say, though I’m still waiting for more Secret Histories. Rating: B/B+

Ghost of a Dream

So I wasn’t too sure what to make of the Ghostfinders stories from Simon R. Green at first. I LOVE Simon R. Green, easily one of my top 5 authors. But the first book was really kind of meh. The second book was a bit better and this third one, Ghost of a Dream is a bit better than that.

Ghost of a Dream starts out with our favorite (read only) Ghost Hunters JC Chance, Melody Chambers and “Happy” Jack Palmer on the case of a ghost train, which is just an awesome concept. I love ghost train stories. At any rate, they’ve been sent up north to figure out why Bad Things have been happening to an abandoned train station called Bradleigh Halt that was supposed to get refurbished by a local steam train enthusiasts society.

The event behind the haunting is a missing train from the Victorian Era. It went in a tunnel near Bradleigh Halt and never came out. Now it wants to come home from the Outside and its bringing Something back with it.  Its up to JC, Melody and Happy to figure out what that Something is and how to kick it’s arse back to where it came from.

That’s the first sort of intro story that Simon often puts in his stories, a little teaser to whet your appetite for the real deal and the bigger, badder nasty. The second story is a tad more interesting. It takes place very soon after the Bradleigh Halt incident at a theater that was out of production for twenty years. The owners of said theater apparently have pull with the Carnacki Institute’s big cheese, Catherine Latimer, and so the three Ghostfinders find themselves on what appears to be a typical haunting.

And when I say typical I mean typical. All of the little spooky incidents are the sorts of things that people up and down the centuries have been claiming  as proof of ghosts: flickering lights, cold spots, eerie noises and doors opening and closing on their own. Nothing is outright malevolent at first but something is definitely there and definitely powerful and definitely after the two actors who are re-opening the theater.

JC and his team have to find out why and not only that, but another big, bad nasty is taking the opportunity to try and finish them off. Will they survive?! Duhn-duhn-DUUUUUUUUUUHN! Well, SPOILERS, they do survive because the series is clearly not over yet but it there was a bit of a cliffhanger moment at the very end that made me go “YOU CAN’T DO THAT TO ME!!”. So over all, I’d say that this isn’t quite as good as Hawk&Fisher, Deathstalker or the Nightside story arcs…yet. It has potential and it seems to be working up to it slowly. So I do recommend the books because I will always recommend Simon R. Green. Rating B.