Tales from the Nightside (A Nightside Book)
by Simon R. Green
Review by Drew Bittner
Ace Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425270752
Date: 06 January 2015 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /
Besides being a prolific novelist, Green is a frequent contributor to urban fantasy anthologies and collections. This means that there are a fair number of stories set in his Nightside series that some readers may not have seen. Well, Ace Books has you covered; Tales from the Nightside brings together the short fiction Green has created set in this place where it is always 3 a.m. and sin is never in short supply.
"The Nightside, Needless to Say" leads off, telling how private eye Larry Oblivion ended up undead. It's a noir tale with all the trimmings, except that it doesn't feature the protagonist of the series, John Taylor. Larry Oblivion is a minor character, but Green uses him well here, showing that everyone is the hero of his own story.
Razor Eddie, self-made Punk God of the Straight Razor, gets his own adventure in "Razor Eddie's Big Night Out", when an acquaintance (who narrates) pulls the homeless force of vengeance into trouble on the Street of the Gods. It appears the Street is going corporate, at the expense of traditional gods, and Razor Eddie is not amused by the plans that the Authorities have for this real estate. Very not amused.
Conman Harry Fabulous ruminates on the nature of the confidence game in "Some of These Cons Go Way Back" and Dead Boy discovers (and reacts to) the treachery that led to his undeath in "How Do You Feel?", both of which are fun, tightly plotted stories. Detective Sam Warren, the Nightside's first detective, tells his tale in "Appetite for Murder", a macabre adventure that teams him with superheroic Ms. Fate, while a nameless narrator reflects on a lost love in "Lucy, At Christmas".
John Taylor takes center stage for the balance of the entries, including "The Difference A Day Makes", wherein a woman seeks her missing fiancÚ in the Nightside's most dismal neighborhood and makes a horrific discovery, and "The Spirit of the Thing", in which Taylor's solving a bartender's problems may in fact lead to a greater injustice. "Hungry Heart" gets Taylor in pursuit of a mystic box that may hold something very special...if Taylor can survive the others also seeking the box.
And last but far from least is "The Big Game", an all-new novella that pits Taylor and his handful of friends against a truly epic threat. It seems that nearly twoscore heroes have vanished from the hallowed halls of the Adventurers Club, and Taylor is called in to investigate. Where could the great heroes have gone? Who has the power to remove them? And, come to think of it, why are they even slumming in the Nightside to begin with?
The Doorman of the Club illuminates that last point: the heroes are there for the adventure. The Nightside is full of challenges, after all, and heroes do love a challenge.
Taylor follows the trail of the missing to a new club known only as V. Once inside, Taylor faces a threat to the Nightside by a foe with loads of power and experience. Even with help from Suzie Shooter, Razor Eddie, and Dead Boy, this one might be more than even John Taylor can handle.
The stories are a good assortment, expanding upon the setting Green has established through the novels. As most of them don't focus on John Taylor, Green has the opportunity to shine the spotlight elsewhere and grow supporting characters into more fully realized people. Each of them has a twisted conflict at their core, each tries not to hurt others gratuitously, but each is in his or her own way a survivor: the Nightside is not kind to the meek or weak.
Now that the Nightside saga has largely been told, as of The Bride Wore Black Leather (Nightside). this may represent something of a farewell to the Nightside. Although rumor has it this dark underbelly of London will return in an upcoming Secret Histories novel, in quite an epic way. Can't wait.