Simon Green`s Nightside

While skimming through the Fantasy & Science Fiction section at my local Books-A-Million one day, searching for new stuff to read, I stumbled across and interesting series of books. At least insteresting in their cover are and book jacket description, and by an author I hadn’t heard of, so I thought I’d give it a shot. That book was Something from the Nightside. It was a fun little noirish detective novel type tale with a bit of magic and demons thrown in to the mix. The first book was good enough that I picked up the next two (Agents of Light and Darkness and Nightingale’s Lament), both of which have been better than the first and good enough that I’m going to keep picking up the rest of the series, of which there are two or three and more on the way.

They make good short reads, and I definately recommend them. Now, stop reading unless you want spoilers…

John Taylor isn’t your normal detective, he’s got some sort of demon for a mother, a special gift for finding things and a few other tricks up his sleeve. It’s the gift that gets him his work… if he searches for something, he’ll find it. Of course, finding it and surviving it aren’t always the same thing.

In the first book, a woman comes in search of her daughter who may have run away to the Nightside, which is sort of a “no rules” kind of place where good and evil, more evil than good, hang around in a city that’s far older than anyone likes to think about. John, it turns out, has been avoiding the Nightside for the last five years in an attempt to hide from people who want to kill him. But he’s a sucker for a sob story, and heads back in to look for the girl, mother in tow. And this is where the hitch of the books comes in… seems like when John uses his ability, it gives off a lot of energy and basically points him out like a spotlight, which is bad when people are looking to kill you. So he’s got to be careful and try to use old fashion detective work to figure stuff out and use his ability only when he absolutely has to. This first book is solid, but unremarkable… it stands most to tour you around the Nightside and introduce a bunch of people, places and ideas; to settle you in to the world. When you find out what happened to the girl, its not much of a surprise if you’ve payed any attention at all. Even the twists were a little predictable.

Book two is head and shoulders above its predecessor. This book involves John being hired to find “The Unholy Grail”, the cup of Judas. Appearantly, when Judas ran off without drinking and betrayed Christ, it left a bad mojo on the cup and not if affects anyone who possesses it, leading them down the road to betrayal and self destruction. Despite that, angels from above and below have shown up in the Nightside to find it too, each wanting to use it in their desire to end the war between Heaven and Hell, preferrably in favor of their side. The search for the cup crosses the path of lots of bad people and old enemies, the angels begin destroying the city looking for the Unholy Grail. This story does really well with the ideas of angels and of fighting something you can’t possibly win… and **REAL SPOILER ALERT** when the man who hired John turns out to be Judas himself who has, after two thousand years, finally done as Christ asked and forgiven himself and wishes to drink from the cup, take Jesus into his heart and end the curse of the Unholy Grail, it was a pretty damn good moment bringing forth a feeling I hadn’t gotten from a book since the end of “Starship Troopers”.

I’ve just finished book three, and I have to say its not as good as the second, but still better than the first. Once again, the major twist at the end was fairly well telegraphed, so it was no shocker… but the tale that unspooled on the pages throughout made the journey worth travelling. Here, John is hired to find a missing daughter again, but not to bring her home, only to make sure she’s safe and happy… no surprise, she’s neither. She’s a singer, and she’s come under the influence of some shady people who appear to have a track record of messing up young singers. So John determines to get her out somehow. I really enjoyed the introduction of the character Dead Boy, which allowed John’s usual sidekicks Suzie Shotgun and Razor Eddie to take a breather. It was refreshing to get a new face on the side of good, and an interesting take on an old story: a man getting revenge on the people who killed him.

All in all, a good solid series so far.

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