Thursday, November 20, 2014

TBT: Something From The Nightside

(This originally ran in The News Herald on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2004) 

WHAT WE'RE READING: The Nightside novels

In Something from the Nightside, private detective John Taylor returned to the dark, magical heart of London where he was born to find a teenage girl who had been eaten by a house that was not really a house.

The 2003 Ace book introduced Taylor, his preternatural gift for finding things, and the strange segment of the city where it's always 3 a.m., the moon is always full and things are never what they seem.

In the second book (late 2003) of Simon R. Green's projected six-part Nightside series, Agents of Light and Darkness, Taylor found himself fighting angels from both Above and Below after he was hired by a rogue priest to recover the Unholy Grail — the cup from which Judas drank at the Last Supper. Seems both sides thought it would give them the edge they needed to win their eternal war; needless to say, Taylor didn't like the odds of the Nightside surviving Judgment Day.

Now the third book, The Nightingale's Lament (2004), finds Taylor trying to figure out why fans are dying at their own hands after listening to the songs of the Nightside's latest singing sensation, Rossingnol — and what unearthly power her spiderlike managers hold over her.

(In March 2005, Ace is scheduled to release the fourth book, Hex and the City.)

Green is perhaps best known for his science fiction and fantasy series — the Deathstalker books chief among them. But the Nightside novels promise to supplant these, both in depth and scope.

Taylor runs the razor's edge, trusting neither the light nor the darkness — and trusted by neither side. He's an anti-hero for the ages, one who can reference both Obi-Wan Kenobi and Merlin the Magician, for instance. One who is as at ease jousting with knights as with biker chicks hopped up on demonic steroids.

The books are quick reads, mixing pulp detective yarns with Lovecraft all wrapped in wicked British humor. They also tend to follow a pattern that sets their protagonist and his few surviving friends against overwhelming odds — to which they respond with a shrug, a pull on a cigarette, and begin rolling up their sleeves.

You know this is liable to hurt later, but it's better to just get to it.

Now, that's the guy I want at my back when the traffic gets hungry and the spiders come out of the rotted woodwork and the angels turn people to salt at the fast-food joint and the nightingale's song makes death seem like a good idea. Someone to watch over you — to whack you upside the head and kick you in the behind and cast a protective spell and find the hidden path out of this mess.

Someone from the Nightside.
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