No, not that dark side. This isn’t a Star Wars post (and though I’m a Trekkie to the core, the new Star Wars is awesome. Go see it!). Simon R. Green’s latest book is called The Dark Side of the Road.
Ishmael Jones (seriously, that’s his name) is a drifter, moving from job to job and blending in to the crowd. He has to, to keep safe. Ishmael isn’t human. Obviously, or he wouldn’t have picked a name like Ishmael. At any rate, he apparently crash landed on earth back in the 60s and as a part of his civilization’s crash protocol, his entire self down to his DNA was remade to be human.
Unfortunately, it didn’t change his strange golden blood or the fact that he (at least seemingly) doesn’t age. So he keeps a low profile and works jobs on what he calls the dark side of the road so he can have access to new identities when needed. He works for someone called the Colonel, who represents The Organization. Suitably vague for their type of work, which is to take care of those things that go bump in the night that threaten to go bump in the daylight.
The Colonel calls Ishmael at Christmas, on the eve of a terrible storm and asks him to come to Belcourt Manor in Cornwall (don’t quote me on the location, it was mentioned briefly and I can’t quite remember). By the time that Ishmael arrives, the storm is so bad it snows everyone into the manor.
Once there, Ishmael discovers that the Colonel is in fact one James Belcourt, son of Walter Belcourt, owner of Belcourt Manor. And he’s missing. Which is odd, considering the weather. Ishmael gets to know the guests, two of whom he knew in one of his previous lives and one of which is James’ sister Penny, who wants all up in Ishmael.
Eventually, Ishmael and Penny discover the Colonel’s beheaded body outside in the snow, disguised as a snowman (loved that. Suitably macabre). Its up to Ishmael to discover who killed his Colonel and is now picking off the few guests (a half dozen or so) left, to get revenge.
This book is Agatha Christie meets the Twilight Zone. Ishmael is an alien, the killer is referred to as the horror by the Colonel, and they’re locked in a quaint, old British Manor for a few days with no outside help to be found. It’s glorious.
It’s my understanding that Simon R. Green isn’t writing anymore series, just doing one off novels, due to health concerns (he’s been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes), so I’m guessing that this is a stand alone. That’s a shame because it has such potential to be a great arc. This is already better than his Ghost Finders books, and I slogged my way through all of them. I hope he does at least one or two more, but we’ll have to wait and see. Even if it doesn’t continue though, this book is definitely worth the read. Rating: A