From a Drood to a Kill

courtesy of Amazon.comObligatory SPOILERS message be here. This book just came out so if you haven’t read it, skip this review.

Ah Simon. I do adore your writing. I am so sad that you’re going to be wrapping up your Secret Histories, Nightside and Ghost Finders novels. If you haven’t heard (and I think I may have posted on this earlier this year…? Maybe?), Simon R. Green has been diagnosed with diabetes and in anticipation of that perhaps having health complications, he is wrapping up his series quicker than he originally planned. He is then going to write individual novels a la Shadows Fall.

At any rate, I just finished up From a Drood to a Kill. This novel picks up, naturally, where the last one left off. Eddie’s parents are missing and he is heading to Drood Hall to demand they help him. Eddie and Molly make a right mess of the Hall and a bunch of Droods who, in theory, know how to fight but in reality just don’t Eddie’s skills. They make it to the Sanctity where they bargain with Maggie, the current Matriarch, for Drood help.

Since Eddie wants their resources for a private quest, he needs to do one for them. And only Eddie. Molly gets sidelined, which she isn’t happy about, but she takes the time to go visit her equally impressive and troublesome sisters, Isabelle and Louisa (or is it Isabella and Louise? Can’t remember and too lazy to go back and find the right page to check). It seems that some intelligence is leaking from Britain’s latest high tech listening station, nicknamed the Big Ear. No, I don’t know who came up with that name. Its a little ridiculous. Okay, it’s a lot ridiculous.

The mission delivered and agreed to, the Armourer (Jack Drood and my personal fav.), gives Eddie his old Bentley (man, I wish I had that car. It would be awesome) for the trip. The Bentley is much more than just a car. Or even much more than one of James Bond’s cars. It can travel through dimensions, among other things, so it allows for a trip across Britain much quicker than driving a regular vehicle or taking a train.

Of course, the mission starts out with a bump. The Bentley gets sidetracked, kidnapped to the subtle realms by a group of rogue fae that includes a former aunt of Eddie’s, Melanie Blaze. Eddie preps himself for a fight, because faeries don’t just give up, when Melanie…just gives up. She lets him go when just moments before she was planning on using him as a bargaining chip with the Drood (good luck with that). Utterly perplexed, Eddie completes his mission without having to kill anyone (his new vow, tough one to keep for a Drood).

When he finishes, he finds out exactly why Melanie gave up so easily. The one Drood she’d really wanted to deal with, the Armourer Jack Drood, died. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Not Jack! I was so upset by this! Even though it was established that Jack was really quite old, it was a hard it. It was such a likeable character. Luckily enough, it wasn’t murder (which is something of an issue with Droods) but just old age. Rare that an agent can die peacefully at home.

After a solemn ceremony on the Drood estate, a wake for friends (plus Eddie and Molly) gets held at the Wulfshead, Eddie’s usual club. People come from all walks of life to say goodbye to Jack in grand, drunken fashion. Including Cedric Drood, the Sergeant-at-arms, that Eddie doesn’t get along with in the least. They put their animosity aside for the night to celebrate Jack’s life. Eddie learns there was more to his beloved uncle than he ever knew. It doesn’t make him feel good, that he didn’t even bother to learn these things. He always thought he’d have the time to talk to Jack more, I suppose.

After the party, which goes off without a hitch oddly enough, Molly gets kidnapped. Right out of the Wulfshead, which is supposed to be impossible. Angry, grieving for his uncle, Eddie goes on a tear to find her. Kidnapped by the grandiosely (and self) named Powers That Be, Eddie kicks arse and takes names as he tries to find their home base of the Shifting Lands.

Molly has been kidnapped for the Big Game. A supposedly private and hush-hush event strictly for the Powers That Be and their amusement. They kidnap people who owe debts so large (usually on their soul and/or body) to powerful beings (Heaven, Hell, Powers, Dominations. You name it, they’ve probably done it) that they could never repay those debts even in death. Like Molly, who made deals upon deals with Good and Bad in order to gain the power to destroy the Droods for killing her parents.

The Big Game is a fight to the death and the last one standing has all of their debts paid for by the Powers That Be. To make things interesting, the Shifting Lands are ever changing based on the mood and force of will the players can enforce upon it. One minute, it can be your place of power, the next it might be your opponent’s place of power.

I won’t give away what happens with that. Its really too good and I wouldn’t do it justice. It was obvious from the writing that this series is, indeed (and sadly), winding down. That doesn’t make it any less interesting or well written though. In most cases of Simon’s writing, I would say you really don’t need to read the previous book to get the gist of this one. And while that is true to a certain extent with From a Drood to a Kill, I think it would definitely make more sense if you read Casino Infernale before reading this book. That one was absolutely amazing and the events in that have a direct impact on those in From a Drood to a Kill. Hell, I suggest you read the whole damn series. Its so much fun and the titles are delightful puns on James Bond titles. Rating: A.

Property of a Lady Faire

 

Property of a Lady Faire

Property of a Lady Faire

Spoilers be here. Faire (see what I did there?) warning since this is a relatively new book. Property of a Lady Faire is the latest in Simon R. Green’s Secret History novels. We start out with plucky hero Edwin Drood running from the guardians of the Vatican’s secret vaults. The guardians look like nuns and priest to begin with and then, with how he wrote it, turned in to Ringwraiths (or similar). Eddie was charged with replacing a book that the Droods felt the Vatican shouldn’t have access to. It would just upset them.

With his mission on the brink of success, Eddie uses the Merlin Glass to escape to Soho in London where he has another job. Something or someone is selling secrets from the Wulfshead Club. Since the Wulfshead is rather Vegas like in that whatever is done or said there, stays there, the management is understandable upset. And they want to get to the bottom of it. So they call Eddie in under the guise of his alter ego, Shaman Bond.

Shaman schmoozes among the clients, listening to what is and isn’t being said and is right in time for shit to go down (naturally, as he is the star of the book). People start disappearing and Eddie uses a bit of his golden torc to See that there is something wrong with the many, many televisions in the Club. Something is reaching through and snatching people because what is better than listening to secrets? Getting them directly from the source (or sources as they’re snatching damn near all the patrons).

Eddie gets mad and confronts the possessed tellys (that’s British slang for TVs, fellow Yanks). He makes it quite clear that everyone is to be returned to the club unharmed and this insidious surveillance removed or he will get very upset. Suddenly, violently and all over the place. That all said and done, everyone is returned and we find out that the government is behind the whole thing (the representative being old pal Alan Diment who really doesn’t like Eddie or the Droods).

The Club management thanks Eddie, tells him that they owe him a favor and drop him off directly on the grounds of Drood Hall. This is something that shouldn’t be able to happen so Eddie (and the family) are necessarily worried. They’ve had a lot of attacks on the Hall recently after all. So Eddie ambles on up to the Hall, collecting Molly on the way and goes to meet the family council. He doesn’t really want to, he rather hates the bureaucracy, but his grandmother left him something in her will (of course, she did die several books ago but there are traditions to be maintained apparently).

Among other things, the Matriarch appointed her sister (the gardener) as Matriarch because she feels the family needs a Matriarch and she leaves Eddie a box. This box is rather like a mini monolith from 2001/2010 in that they haven’t been able to open or scan it. Its set so only Eddie can open it and he doesn’t really want it, not the least because the Matriarch’s will specifically stated that it is something that will make him undisputed head of the family (I can’t wait to see what this turns out to be). Eddie basically tells the lot of them to shove off (again) and leaves with the box in tow (he may not want it but he doesn’t want any of them to have it either).

Business done, he and Molly go to visit his grandfather, the Regent of Shadows. They want to know why he killed Molly’s parents (who, from what I understand, were not good people at all). Unfortunately, they’re too late. Someone has taken down his organization, every last one of them, including the Regent himself. Which really should have been impossible since he had Kayleigh’s Eye physically implanted in his chest.

The thing that did that (referred to as the Voice by Eddie because they have no way of telling what it is beyond the voice they’re hearing) wants Eddie to retrieve the Lazarus Stone or else Eddie’s parents are dead. Again. Well, for realsies this time. Neither Eddie nor Molly know what the hell a Lazarus Stone is so Eddie goes the only place he can…back to Drood Hall to talk to the Drood in Cell13.

This Drood (Laurence) used to be the family Armourer before Jack. He did something to himself that affected his brain. He now knows everything in the old and new Drood libraries, not to mention every new thing that happens within Drood Hall. He doesn’t appear to age any longer and the family all agreed (including poor Laurence) that he was too much of a danger to the family to be allowed to roam free so they built him a very specialized prison cell.

Laurence is definitely more than a little batshit and he tugs Molly and Eddie around by the nose a bit but eventually tells them that the Lazarus Stone is a bit of the stone that was rolled away from Lazarus’ tomb so Jesus could raise him from the dead. Supposedly. In the end, the best explanation we have as to what this thing can do is that its some sort of mechanism (possibly alien in origin) that has to do with time travel. He also hints that Eddie’s late grandfather, the Regent, last had the stone. This they already know so with Droods bearing down on them thanks to all sorts of alarms, they run off to the Armoury to talk to Jack (one of my personal favorite characters in this series).

Jack eventually tells Eddie that his brother James had the stone and gave it to a woman he actually loved, a courtesan of Frankensteinian make called the Lady Faire. She was apparently made to be everyone’s perfect sexual object (men, women, other). She had many lovers and more ex-lovers and James knew that she’d never be his and yet love makes you do silly things.

The rest of the book is Eddie and Molly facing increasing odds as they try to figure out a way to 1) find the Lady Faire and 2) get close enough to her to take this. Of course, things aren’t that straight forward and there is a bit of a twist toward the end that is quite good (made me grin really). I loved this book and I was really temped to immediately start reading it again. In fact, I may just have to go back and reread it right now. Highly recommended, rating: A+.