Nightingale’s Lament

The third book in the Nightside series is Nightingale’s Lament. This one starts out true to Simon R. Green’s usual form of an easy or near wrapped up case to whet our appetites.  This case is one of sabotage at one of the Nightside’s power providers, Prometheus, Inc. Prometheus is run by one of John Taylor’s old aquaintences, a man referred to as the Mechanic because he could build anything.

Prometheus was experiencing all sorts of physical sabotage. Someone was literally tearing it apart and since Prometheus was a major player in the energy business, Walker sent John to figure out what was going on. What was going on was apparently the Mechanic had turned one of his friends, a man called the Sunslinger (powers of the sun, so a lot of energy right there). He’d murdered the Sunslinger on his wedding day (to another mutual friend) and stuck him in a spirit bottle to harness his sun energy. Well John will not stand for this. He releases the Sunslinger’s body and he finally gets peace with his (also dead) wife. The Mechanic dies quite violently at the hands of his energy harnessing machine, courtesy of John. This, of course, has the nasty consequence of causing power loss and rolling brownouts across the Nightside as Prometheus provided a solid chunk of power.

Knowing that this will come down hard on him, John skulks down to Strangefellows, hoping to hide from Walker and consequences. Only that doesn’t happen because he immediately comes upon a case. A father hires John to make sure that his daughter, an up and coming singer named Rossignol (French for nightingale) is okay. He doesn’t want John to drag the girl home, just to make sure that the daughter is happy and healthy since apparently the family hasn’t heard from her in a very long time and there are disturbing rumors surrounding her. It seems that Ross’s fans are starting to kill themselves, like a lot of them.

John reluctantly takes the case, though it doesn’t sound like his usual do. He soon finds out that he’s really quite wrong. There is something going on, he just can’t figure out what. There is no doubt in his mind that something is very wrong with Rossignol. He speaks to her face to face and she’s very vague and not quite focused. Concerned, he goes to see her representatives, the Cavendishes.

The Cavendishes just straight up have John beat down, no warnings. John manages to get away with the help of an old enemy, a blind vicar named Pew. Pew is convinced that John is an abomination and will bring about the end of the Nightside (the usual tale for John it seems). But as much as he wants John dead, he just can’t bring himself to kill him in cold blood. It isn’t honorable. So he helps John out with a healing spell and sends him on his way, not before trying to pull a fast one on John by taking John’s blood soaked coat. John lets him, as the coat self destructs when John gets too far away from it. I love the idea of John’s coat. It defends itself, self destructs when needed and hides all sorts of useful things. I want a coat like that. Well, maybe not the self destruction thing…

At any rate, John goes back to the place where Ross is performing, Caliban’s Cavern (a suitably monstrous name) in time to catch Ross’s latest performance. And he knows then that whatever happened to Ross is definitely causing people to kill themselves because of her singing. How does he know? Because an audience member kills himself at the club while she’s performing. But just what the hell is going on?

To help get answers, John goes to visit the Nightside newspaper the Night Times, run by Victorian adventurer and all around massively good guy Julian Advent. Julian fell through a timeslip long ago, having been pushed in there by his enemies the Murder Masques. Since then, Julian became an investigative reporter for the Night Times before becoming its owner/editor. He was still doing good and righting wrongs, just with the power of the news. So he always had an eye and ear on things.

After giving Julian the dish on the suicide-turned-riot at Caliban’s Cavern, the Night Times offices are beset by a tulpa of Ross. A tulpa is some sort of psychic sending. It looks like a person but isn’t one. It’s very fast, very strong and will only do what it’s programmed to do. In this case, attack John. It rampages through the reporter’s bullpen which startles a lot of people because the Night Times is seriously, seriously protected. Eventually, they find a single strand of the real Ross’s hair on John’s jacket and burn it. The tulpa gets destroyed and a somewhat aggravated Julian Advent sends John in search of the infamous Dead Boy, who knows more about death than everybody.

John finds Dead Boy outside the Nightside’s Necropolis, home to all funerals (and related rites) in the Nightside. Dead Boy has a job to do here. Since the power to the Necropolis was knocked out earlier (naughty John), some of those in the Necropolis who were cryofrozen started to thaw. And the thawed dead bodies got possessed by…something. Dead Boy was there to kick some arse on the basis that no one else really wanted to. John helps Dead Boy sort out the Necropolis mess, partly because it is his fault and partly because he wants Dead Boy in a cooperative mood.

After handling the situation (messily), Dead Boy agrees to help John with Ross. They sneak a message to Ross via one of her band members and meet her at a transvestite lounge called Divas!  Divas! is a place where transvestites dress as famous women (mostly singers) and perform. A great place to surreptitiously meet up with a famous singer, don’t you think? Dead Boy thought so too.

Once Ross shows up, we find out that she is, in fact, dead. Or at least mostly dead. Only there’s no Miracle Max here to make a miracle pill. They figure out that the Cavendishes murdered Ross to make her more pliable. This information doesn’t help John figure out how to help Ross. And it seems like that won’t happen as the Harrowing show up suddenly. John has used his gift one too many times and the Harrowing have found him.

With time running out for him, John tries to get Dead Boy to run with Ross, but she’s not having any of it. John is her only chance to fix what happened. Luckily for John, the Cavendishes’ hired gun, the new Count Entropy (formerly The Jonah), really wants John to suffer at his hands before he dies. He gets rid of the Harrowing using his awful magicks and proceeds to James Bond Villain the whole how-to. Trope-y for certain but I’ve watched enough “true crime” shows to know that some people actually do like to brag about their crimes, so we can suspend disbelief for this bit.

Finally, unable to take the bragging over her death any longer, Ross deliberately sings a sad song knowing that the full concentrated force of her accidental ability will lead to Count Entropy’s death. Spoilers: It does. Count Entropy pops out of existence and with that, the only thing holding Ross to the world. Some wishy-washy, time-wimey magic between John and Dead Boy brings Ross back.  The Cavendishes try to finish the job themselves only to be stopped by Julian Advent (who was literally waiting in the wings at Divas!) and walker.

Its a good book but not one of my favorite Nightsides. It sort of felt to me like a filler story between Agents of Light and Darkness and the next book Hex and the City (Simon R Green has pun-y titles). The best part of the story, I think, is the introduction of Dead Boy who is one of my all time favorite Simon R Green characters. He is completely irreverent and just a bit crazy. At any rate, its a decent book and I’d rate it a solid B-/B. Again, it felt like a filler novel.

Angels of Light and Darkness

I can’t really remember if I’ve posted about this before but since my current aim is to re-read all the Nightside books by Simon R. Green, I figured I’d review them all in order as well. So after Something from the Nightside we move on to Angels of Light and Darkness. This one is one of my favorite Nightside novels. Not sure why but I really love reading it.

We start out with John Taylor on a very tough, possibly deadly job. His job was to find out what  major player Jessica Sorrow the Unbeliever is looking for. The problem with that is in the adjective for Jessica Sorrow, the Unbeliever. She can ‘unbelieve’ you right out of existence. So John is sitting in the one really Christian church in the Nightside, an old and cold stone edifice called St. Jude’s (fitting name for a Nightside church). He has a shoe box with him, with what he hopes will stop Jessica Sorrow from storming about the Nightside. Turns out that in the box is a teddy bear. Jessica’s own teddy bear and it is, in fact what she is looking for.

Taylor is beyond relieved that he survived his tete-a-tete with the Unbeliever but before he can leave St. Jude’s, someone else come’s running in, clearly distressed. Being who he is, John hides himself in the abundant shadows of the church, keen not to get involved in something dangerous so soon after his last harrowing job. A man in black (not that kind) with his eyes stitched shut runs right for the altar, begging for sanctuary. Something comes flowing in after him, a blackness darker than any shadow, moving across the floor.

The blackness demands that the man turn over the Grail to them. The man, clearly traumatized, agrees and hands over the package he was clutching to his chest. Turns out that the package did not contain the Grail. Irate, the blackness turns the now screaming man into what looks like a white statue, frozen in fear before it departs. John decides very firmly that he wants no part of this (which comes back to bite him shortly) and he heads off to Strangefellows.

Once in the bar, John finds out that it isn’t the Holy Grail that has come to the Nightside but the Unholy Grail. This is, at least in this story, the cup that Judas Iscariot drank from at the Last Supper. The cup is a curse object so powerful that it brings out the absolute worst in people. Previous owners are said to include Torquemada and Hitler. Needless to say, it never seems to bring good luck to the owners.

At this point, John hired by an emissary of the Vatican itself, an undercover priest by the name of Jude. Insert obligatory “Hey Jude” joke here. The price is 50,000 pounds up front plus an additional quarter million upon delivery of the  “somber chalice”. John agrees and that’s when a target really gets painted on his back. Because of John’s gift of being to find pretty much anything, it means a lot of people want him to find the Unholy Grail, either for pay or under threat. John Calmly deals with all comers who accost him at the bar and sets off to do two things: find a private place to use his gift to find this thing quickly and to collect Suzie Shooter for protection.

He really should have found Suzie first. John ducks into a dark doorway and settles down to use his gift when angels rip his mind right out of his body and transport him up to what Green calls the Shimmering Realms. Turns out the angels on both sides want this thing to win their war against the other side. So naturally, they need John Taylor to find it for them because neither side is actually capable of doing that. John declines and when the angels don’t look like letting them go, he pits one side against the other and sneaks away in the confusion.

With the use of his gift right out, John collects Suzie and starts shaking down people for clues. He goes to an S&M club called the Pit and intimidates the owning cabal, the Demon Lordz. Despite the silly spelling, the Demon Lordz are actual demons. They’re low guys on the totem pole who escaped from the actual Pit for hot showers and coffee (no, really). They finally cop to the fact that they heard that the Fourth Reich has it.

The Fourth Reich are, as you may have guessed, next gen Nazis. No one in the Nightside cares for that lot apparently but they still get money from somewhere. So John and Suzie are quite looking forward to kicking ass and taking names but someone has clearly beat them to it. Every single member of the Fourth Reich is dead so no one can answer any questions. They do, however, find a clue. And that is another white human statue, a man made of salt (see what he did there). They’re fairly certain that this man has a connection to the one that John saw in St. Jude’s but he’s not wearing anything that would identify who or what he’s with. But in his pockets is another clue! And a weapon.

The weapon is the Speaking Gun. The principle is this: everything has a hidden name from the time that god created the universe. The Speaking Gun is designed to find/know this hidden name and to speak it backwards, thereby unmaking/unraveling the thing it is pointed at. Its a hideous thing made out of someone’s living flesh and bone and it hates everything and everyone. If you try to use it, it will try (and most likely succeed) in taking over your will.

The clue is a card from another player in the Nightside, the infamous Collector, who we met in the last book. The Collector does just what his name implies, he collects anything and everything that the is unique and/or historically significant. He doesn’t care who owns it. He doesn’t care who wants it. He is a horder. He wants what he wants and he will not give it up. So either he has the Unholy Grail or he is actively looking for it.

To figure out which it is, they go after a group that is known to work for the Collector, the Bedlam Boys. The Bedlam Boys used to be a 90s boy band. When they’re popularity in the real world tanked, they joined the Nightside and fell in with the Collector. In exchange for their (meager) talent, he grants them an awful psychic gift. They bring out people’s fears and use it to terrorize people into giving them what they want. The Bedlam Boys are in the midst of shaking down a chili joint (Hot n Spicy, 3 toilets, no waiting) when John and Suzie confront them.

John felt that they could stand up to the Bedlam Boys if they just lock down their minds enough. Turns out, that wasn’t the case. John is confronted with his worst, mommy related fears. And that makes him angry. And you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry (yes, I went there). John breaks free of their spell and breaks Suzie free from her fears. Now fair warning for this bit, it is graphic and disturbing. Possibly the most graphic and disturbing thing that Simon R Green has ever written. I won’t go into detail other than to say it involves incest. You read this bit at your own discretion.

At this point, they see their first angel in person. Angels, for some reason are bland, grey men in bland, grey suits. You can’t quite look at them but you know they are there. And they are far scarier than the Bedlam Boys ever were. The Bedlam Boys are turned into salt statues as the angel goes through them toward John and Suzie. John pulls out the disturbing Speaking Gun and frightens the angel off with it. But it takes all of John’s willpower to pry the gun from his hands. Its frankly traumatizing to hold it. This time Suzie carries it under the logic that she’s very good with guns (she really is).

They rifle the Bedlam Boys for clues and find a business card for a performer, Nasty Jack Starlight. They go to an old and shut down theatre called The Styx where Starlight is said to be playing. The Styx was shut down long ago because someone tried to open a Hellmouth during a performance of the Caledonian Tragedy (aka The Scottish Play, the one whose true name you can’t say for fear of bringing bad luck during a performance). Starlight is performing at the Styx for a group of undead with his partner, a life sized rag doll that may have at one point been a human woman).

Starlight claims not to know anything and tries to scarper when another angel arrives on the scene. Nasty Jack Starlight goes up in flames, which makes me fairly certain that this was an angel of the light and Nasty Jack was just too nasty to let live. Suzie this time brings out the Speaking Gun and runs the angel off and she too has a traumatizing experience with the gun. Once she and John pull themselves as together as they can be, they’re out of ideas on where to look.

Luckily, a bit of deus ex machina is on our side and Razor Eddie calls John up. He knows precisely where the Unholy Grail is but he won’t say over the phone. John and Suzie agrees to meet up with Eddie in person, at the warehouse of an arms dealer (not unusual in the Nightside at all). Eddie tells them that he himself had retrieved the Unholy Grail from a bunch of Warriors of the Cross (very hard core Christian crusaders – in all senses of the word – determined to bring down the Nightside) and delivered it to the Collector. However, once he did that, he started feeling like that was a very bad thing to do. So he tells John that the Collector is currently hiding his possessions on the moon, under the Sea of Tranquility (because awesome).

That doesn’t help them get up there, but they know someone that might. They’re headed out when they’re waylaid by Walker. Walker had previously said that he’d been ordered to move his people out of the Nightside and let the angels fight it out. Things have changed since the angels (which side we don’t know) contacted the Authorities and demanded they find the Unholy Grail. So Walker is determined to use John (in all ways possible) to find the Unholy Grail and he doesn’t care who he turns it over to. It isn’t his job to question the Authorities, just do what they ask.

He threatens Suzie and Eddie and when John quite rightly points out that the pair can handle themselves, Walker’s trump card shows up. A mercenary woman called La Belle Dame Sans Merci (Belle for short) who likes to make trophies  out of her conquests. A werewolf pelt is grafted to her back (regeneration), dragon’s hide as a breast plate (impenetrable) and boots made from the leg skin of a minor Greek deity (speed) among other things. She guts Suzie and throws Razor Eddie out a three story window.

John takes her down in a suitably hard fashion and uses Belle’s own werewolf pelt to regenerate Suzie. Walker, of course, disappears in the confusion which is just as well as another angel shows up. Razor Eddie takes the Speaking Gun and distracts it long enough for John and Suzie to make a run for it. They don’t get far. Angels from both sides have zeroed in on them.  With no other choice, John uses a special card made for him by Alex Morrisey and transports them both directly into Strangefellows.

John’s plan is not a very nice one. John needs Merlin. The Merlin, who just happens to be buried under Strangefellows. Of course, that can only happen if he manifests through his descendant, Alex Morrisey, and it isn’t very pleasant for Alex. Regardless, John forces the transformation using his gift to find the trigger in Alex. Merlin is powerful enough, even dead over a thousand years, that both sets of angels instantly stop their approach.

John has Merlin pull the Collector into the bar, where he confronts the squirrely little man about the Unholy Grail and eventually browbeats him into giving it up. Merlin then transports John, Suzie and the Collector to the Collector’s base on the moon. The Collector doesn’t give up easily though, and attempts to have his guardian robots kill John and Suzie. They, however, just start blowing apart his collection as well as the robots until the Collector finally gives in.

Once back down in Strangefellows, Walker once more tries to push John into giving up the Unholy Grail. Only it doesn’t work because John is a bit more powerful than people give him credit for. For once, Walker backs down and leaves. And in comes John’s client Jude. Jude turns out to be Judas Iscariot. The Unholy Grail was once his cup. To render it useless, he pours wine into it and blesses it because he really is a priest now.  Finally, the angels leave because the Unholy Grail is now just a cup.

The book ends a little abruptly but I think that’s because he knew that more were coming. Again, I just love this book. I think it lends a bit of humanity to John and Suzie, despite how hard their characters are. So I highly recommend it. Rating: A.

Something from the Nightside

So I’m trying to kickstart myself into reading again which is a weird thing for me but as I mentioned, I just haven’t felt like reading much recently (again weird). So I opened my omnibus A Walk on the Nightside to do this because Simon R Green is one of my favorite authors ever. I just finished rereading Something from the Nightside, which was the very first of the Nightside novels and one that I haven’t read for a while.

We start out in real London where our leading man, John Taylor, is lounging in his run down private detective office when rich business woman Joanna Barrett walks in. Joanna’s daughter, Cathie, is missing after running away. She wants her daughter found and John Taylor is her last chance. He often is. She mentions that her previous private detectives told her that Cathie went into somewhere called the Nightside and then refused to go any further (with good reason as we see later). So for an exorbitant amount of money, John Taylor takes Joanna to the hidden heart of London.

The Nightside is a place where literally anything goes. You can buy, sell or trade your soul, or someone else’s, to get what you want or need. John Taylor grew up here and ran five years ago in order to survive. John Taylor is something of a wanted man but he doesn’t really know why. His mother, long missing, was not human. Finding this out caused his father to drink himself to death, leaving  John as an orphan. Something about what his mother is causes people to try and kill him, for things he might possibly do in the future. Of course, John Taylor is a smart ass, so people try to kill him for his winning personality as well. This info is pretty important in the Nightside arc.

So John and Joanna are in the Nightside where Joanna is trying to sort things out. Being a regular schmo from London, she’d never really dreamed about a place like this, where it’s always three o’clock in the morning and anything goes. With a few run ins with the usual characters in the Nightside, none of them good, John eventually takes them to Strangefellows, the oldest bar in the world. I love Strangefellows and I love its bartender Alex Morrissey. I don’t know what it is, but I do.

John gets a tip to check out a place called the Fortress. The Fortress is for those who have been abducted by aliens (for realsies) and just don’t want to put up with that shit any more. They’re paranoid and armed to the teeth. Pretty usual for the Nightside. They also take any anyone who needs protection and for the most part, no one tries to screw with them. John thinks it makes perfect sense that a teenage runaway with a tough family life would find her way there so off they set after a quick talk with one of John’s old ‘friends’, Razor Eddie (another personal fav of mine).

Before they can get too far, the enemies that John had been running from when he left the Nightside five years ago corner them outside the bar. I always thought the Harrowing were creepy. Faceless, emotionless hommunculi with only one mission: Kill John. A little Weeping Angels, yes? John is terrified to the point where he actually gives up for the most part. He tries fighting a bit but he realizes that he just cannot compete with these creatures. And then Razor Eddie rides to the rescue, so to speak, and carves up the Harrowing into bitty pieces. He tipped off those of John’s enemies who control the Harrowing in order to send them a message by destroying their creatures. Nothing is ever simple in the Nightside.

So, imminent death and destruction avoided, John and Joanna take an honest to god horse and carriage to the Fortress where they meet up with another of John’s old friends, Suzie Shooter. Also known as Shotgun Suzie and Oh-Christ-Its-Her-Run. 🙂 She’s a bounty hunter with no heart of gold. She’s a monster (in a way, I never really felt that but that’s what Green is trying to get across), made that way by the circumstances of her life. She is a damn good bounty hunter and exceedingly loyal to John in her way (at this point, she’ll still bring him in if she’s got good paper on him).

Suzie is at The Fortress to pick up a bounty, which has resulted in a fire-fight with the locals. John diffuses the situation for the most part and manages to talk Suzie into helping with his missing teenager case (for a price, of course). Someone in the Fortress (unnamed alien abductee) explains to John that Cathie had been there but had left a few days ago. Someone or more likely something was calling her to Blaiston Street. Blaiston Street is pretty much rock bottom for Nightsiders. So what would a teenager be doing there? And happy about it to boot?

Only one way to find out! So off they trot once more only to get stuck in a timeslip. A timeslip are eddies in time that can throw you forward or backward, either for a little bit or for a lot. People are always falling into and out of timeslips in the Nightside, sometimes on purpose.  In this timeslip, John and Joanna get thrown into the future, an apocalyptic one. Everything but the bugs (and I’m talking like Starship Troopers big damn bugs here) and Razor Eddie is dead. Even the m0on is gone.

Razor Eddie, being immortal, is the last living person on earth and that is not a good thing. I won’t go into details about what Eddie goes through (because gross) but he explains to John that this particular future is all John’s fault. He doesn’t give too much information because Eddie is pretty well insane by now but he reveals that this future is a mere 82 years from the time that John stepped back into the Nightside and that this happened in some way because of John searching for his mother.

After figuring a way out (a very painful one) of this timeslip future, John takes Joanna to the Hawks Wind Bar & Grill. The Hawks Wind is a ghost establishment. It is forever stuck in the 60s. Everything in the menu, everything in the jukebox is all real 60s stuff. But any time you spend there, stays there. You will leave the Hawks Wind at the moment you initially entered it, so its a great place to recuperate if you’re on a time crunch.

Here we are introduced to the mysterious Walker (I always pictured him as Anthony Head from Buffy and Merlin), who ostensibly runs things in the Nightside on behalf of the shadowy Authorities. He basically taps John to deal with whatever is happening on Blaiston Street because some very important people have gone missing there, not just the riff-raff and runaways.

With nothing else for it, even if he hates doing Walker any sort of favors, John and Joanna head to Blaiston Street. John uses his gift of finding things (a sort of third eye deal, courtesy of his not-at-all-human mother) to see that Cathie has been here recently and has entered a house…that doesn’t exist. Which is apparently strange even for the Nightside. Suzie shows up moments later and with that, the three of them enter the house.

It is a quintessential creepy haunted house type house. The three of them get herded upstairs and find Cathie. Cathie is quite literally half the person she was. The house that isn’t there is a predator and is eating her alive, body and soul. And convincing her that she’s happy about it. Well, John doesn’t want to put up with that and he pretty well challenges the house to give up Cathie.

That doesn’t go over well and the house cuts off all means of escape. Deciding the newcomers are far to dangerous to be getting on with, the house decides to make a quick meal of the threesome. Its in the confusion of fighting the house and trying to find a way out that its revealed that Joanna Barrett really isn’t Joanna Barrett. She was made a la the Harrowing to be the perfect lure for getting John back into the Nightside, though she really didn’t know it. She kills herself by allowing the house to eat her and John, pissed off and upset on so many levels that he’ll never speak of, uses his gift to find the heart of the weird creature and kill it.

After that, it’s a matter of blasting holes in the carcass and getting himself, Cathie and Suzie out before it collapses on them. John never did get paid for finding her, but Cathie adopts him anyway. Rating: B. Its a good read for sure but it is a little expositiony. Its clearly setting up things to come and giving you a taste of the people who are going to be major players in the Nightside arc. You don’t need to read this to understand the rest of the series but its so much more fun if you do because Green really likes to interconnect all of his stories. You’ll get his in-jokes if you read everything. Read it. READ IT! 😉

Angels of Light and Darkness

So I went on vacation this last week and I managed to not read the entire time. Weird, I know but I had wine to taste instead. 🙂 But before I went on vacation, I re-read the second book in Simon R. Green’s Nightside arc, Angels of Light and Darkness. In this book, John Taylor is hired by Father Jude who represents the Vatican. The Pope wants to hire Taylor to find a very powerful, very dangerous object. If it gets out into the world and the wrong hands, it could lead to the end of the world. Quite literally.

And the object? The Unholy Grail. This is (supposedly mind you, since I have absolutely no idea if such an object exists/existed) the cup that Judas drank out of at the last supper. Yes, that Judas. Yes, that last supper. An object like that would be very powerful an anyone’s hands. There really isn’t a ‘right hands’ or a ‘wrong hands’ in the Nightside. The whole place is very…in between.

But the Vatican isn’t the only interested party. When Taylor first tries to use his special gift to find the Unholy Grail right off the bat, his mind gets hijacked by Above and Below (yes, I feel that the capitals are necessary). Each side wants it for their own use, each wanted to bring about the end of days on their own terms. Each side believes that this cup will guarantee them victory over the other side. Taylor tricks his way out of the situation by pitting Above against Below and escaping in the melee.

With using his gift out, Taylor has to pound the pavement doing the usual PI bit of finding clues and rattling cages. He picks up Suzie Shooter (also known as Oh Christ, it’s her! Run!) and off the go, bashing heads, demanding answers and being general nuisances. Meanwhile, angels from both sides are in the Nightside, grabbing random people in search of the same thing. Unfortunately for the grabees, they don’t usually come back alive.

Taylor and Suzie follow leads, get the crap kicked out of them and run from the angels until they find out who exactly has the Grail. Of course they find it! It wouldn’t be nearly so interesting if they didn’t. 😉 But to find out who done it, you need to read the book! Please do. I’m rather fond of Simon R. Green and the more people read his books, the more he’ll write.

Rating: B. Solid book but not one of my absolute favorite Nightsides. Great intro into the series though, even if it is the second book and not the first.

A Hard Day’s Knight

As I’ve stated before (I think…), I am a HUGE Simon R. Green fan. I love his writing. It’s evocative and witty and so very British. He reminds me of a very dark Douglas Adams. At any rate, I just re-read his latest Nightside novel A Hard Day’s Knight. I love this book, and the series, and I highly recommend them.

In A Hard Day’s Knight, private detective John Taylor starts off trying to relax from the end of the last book’s events. Spoiler alert: John has killed the infamous Walker. But let’s face it, the man had it coming. I love the Walker character but he was a right arse. At any rate, John comes home to Suzie Shooter and finds something on the table that he really, really doesn’t want. Excalibur. Yes, the Excalibur. And it isn’t what he thinks it is.

Well, alright, it’s a sword. But it’s so much more than that. And John, being neither good nor pure, has been given a special dispensation from the Lady of the Lake to bear Excalibur and find King Arthur. Yes, that King Arthur. Something of a spoiler alert, the Lady of the Lake is Gayle from his stand alone story Drinking Midnight Wine.I absolutely love when Green brings elements from his other stories together. 🙂

Unfortunately, everyone and their brother wants Excalibur and are quite determined to wrest it from John’s control. They make quite a mess of John and Suzie’s front yard…well, front land mine zone really. So in order to figure out how to get rid of the damn thing, John decides to go to the London Knights, the descendents of Arthur’s original knights. Before he gets too far though, he’s forced to accept the title of Walker and clean up a nasty little soul bomb. Some days, you should just stay in bed with the lights off.

And just to make things even more complicated…the Elves have decided to go to war with each other. On Earth. Hopefully wiping out the humans while they fight. So, just the usual day, or night, in the Nightside. It’s a great story and I can’t wait for the next book, The Bride Wore Black Leather. So get it, read it. A+ And I really hope Puck comes back in future Simon R. Green books. 🙂

A Little Something from the Nightside

My brother got me into British author Simon R. Green around ten years ago with Green’s Hawk and Fisher story arc.  I love Simon R. Green. He is one of my favorite authors.  One of his newer story arcs is his Nightside novels, featuring the not-quite-human P.I. John Taylor.  The Nightside novels take place in modern day London, in the secret, dark and hidden heart of it called the Nightside where it is always 3 o’clock in the morning.

I was originally a little suspect of these books, I must confess.  I had previously read all the books of Green’s I could get my hands on, the Hawk and Fisher novels and the Deathstalker series, both of them very good.  However, neither of those arcs are set in modern times, so I was a little worried that Green’s  graphic and extraordinary imagination wouldn’t mix well with “the real world” of London, or anywhere else for that matter. Thinking back on it now, this was really my first introduction to anything that was both urban/contemporary/modern mixed with fantasy.

I was pleasantly surprised by the first novel, Something From the Nightside.  Green was the snarky, dry British writer that I’d enjoyed previously and he created such an amazing, if somewhat frightening and disturbing, place in the Nightside.  Anything can happen there, and often times does.  His lead character, John Taylor, is severely flawed and you can’t quite figure out if you love him or hate him.  But Taylor’s enough of an underdog that you just have to root for him.

Green’s novels aren’t for anyone who can’t stand graphic descriptions of blood, guts, gore and anything else he can come up with.  He is so wonderfully descriptive that you’re almost there with the characters, like it or not.  I love a writer who can make you feel like you’re there.  If I could meet any one of the writers in enjoy reading, I think it would be him.

His Nightside arc is currently 11 novels long, with a 12th to be released in 2011 (can’t wait!!!). I think originally it was supposed to be far less, but either her really loves this arc or his fans do. Or both. Either way, I’m not complaining.

The books:

  • Something from the Nightside: First book of the series and it does a good job of introducing the characters. John Taylor gets pulled back into the Nightside after years of trying to make it in real world London as a specatcularly failing P.I. I personally thought it wasn’t the best of the bunch, but it grabbed my interest enough to read the next one.  B-
  • Angels of Light and Darkness: Angels from Above and Below (yes, the caps are needed) come to the Nightside looking for an extremely powerful, but not quite holy, relic.  Taylor is highered to find it before they do. More Razor Eddie (one of my personal favorite characters) in this one. B+
  • Nightengale’s Lament: An interesting concept of a singer whose voice is powerful enough to sway people’s emotions…but something’s not quite right with her. Enter John Taylor and one of my other personal favorite characters, Dead Boy. Solid story, but not quite as good as later stories.  Doesn’t add much to John Taylor’s “mysterious past”, but a good break from the overall seriousness. B
  • Hex and the City: John Taylor is hired to look into the mysterious origins of the Nightside and, just possibly, his long lost and most definitely not human mother.  You’re just starting to get into the meat of Taylor’s mystery with this one.  A
  • Paths Not Taken: This one starts off delightfully light and off beat, with a plain and simple human from real London getting lost in the Nightside.  This little side bit is fun and snarky and gives you a little break from the seriousness of the rest of the book, in which Taylor travels back in time, still investigating the origins of the Nightside.  He is accompanied by Susie Shooter (otherwise known as Oh Christ, it’s her RUN!) and Tommy Oblivion, the existential detective.  A
  • Sharper than a Serpent’s Tooth: *Spoiler Alert-sorta* End to the Lilith story.  I think that this story could have been cut short a bit and tacked on the end of Paths Not Taken.  I liked it, but I felt it took just a bit too long. B
  • Hell to Pay: This is the first novel after the Lilith War ended. I was really, really interested in how Green handled the fact that Taylor had relatively more freedom now that he changed his fate, and I was pleased to see it was done well.  Taylor is still Taylor, he doesn’t let his new found relative freedom get to his head. A
  • The Unnatural Inquirer: This one is just fun.  Sure it still has it’s moments of gore and violence, but you just can’t help but have fun with Taylor is teamed up with a Demon Girl Reporter who is, in fact, half Succubus. A+
  • Just Another Judgment Day: The Walking Man comes to the Nightside and all hell breaks loose. Again. B+
  • The Good, the Bad and the Uncanny: Walker, the man who passes for law and order in the Nightside, is dying and is looking for someone to take his place when he goes.  Enter John Taylor, who really doesn’t want the job. At all.  But not all is as it seems. It never is, with Walker.  A
  • A Walk on the Nightside: This is a compilation of the first three novels of the Nightside.  Since I gave them all a different score, I guess I can just put this in as a solid B.

I can’t wait for the next novel which is, supposedly, called A Hard Day’s Knight.  This can, of course, change as the release date comes closer, but it seems to fit with his pun-tastic titles.