Hell to Pay: A Novel of The Nightside
by Simon R. Green
Cover Artist: Jonathan Barkat
Review by Drew Bittner
Ace Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 0441014607
Date: 26 December, 2006 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
What could drive an immortal to seek out John Taylor? Griffin's grand-daughter Melissa has gone missing -— just after he amended his will, leaving his vast business holdings to her. Naturally, Taylor assumes this will be an open-and-shut case; he merely has to use his magical "third eye", capable of finding anything, and Melissa will be discovered in no time.
Except that it doesn't work. Taylor's power is shut down hard, something that's never happened before, leaving him only the tools of ordinary gumshoes: legwork, dogged persistence and a willingness to cause trouble. With the dubious assistance of a sarcastic butler named Hobbes, Taylor sets out to interview the rest of this singular family, but finds himself pulled into their diverse dramas against his will. Socialite mother Mariah, bored Eleanor, blustering William and Melissa's secretive brother Paul all have their schemes and nurse their grudges, but none of it seems to add up.
Unfortunately, there's another player in this game...one coming to collect on an ancient debt. Unless Taylor can figure things out and fast, with the help of Dead Boy and fighting nun Sister Josephine, there will literally be hell to pay for this family. And it's just possible that the undertow will drag down John Taylor as well.
Simon R. Green takes his Nightside series to the next level. With all the mysteries solved in the previous Sharper Than A Serpent's Tooth, it was anyone's guess where the story might go from here. Well, now we know—and it's dynamite. The Nightside is changing, and not for the better, as new forces move to stake a claim on that piece of surreal estate.
The new crop of characters mingles well with the familiar few who survived. Paul Griffin stands out as a character whose tribulations are not rooted in the fantastic, but rather in issues of identity, while Hobbes represents every snooty butler (or marginal authority figure) who has ever inconvenienced the hero. Even Dead Boy's car, an ultra-tech contraption like hell on wheels (no pun intended), has personality to spare. This is not to slight major supporting characters like The Griffin or Marcel, the hopeless gambler in need of rescue by his devoted wife Eleanor; rather, it should suggest that there are lots of great characters packed into one novel.
And, as often happens, Bruin the Bear and the Sea Goat are on hand to comment on the goings-on. (When are they getting their own series?)
Hell to Pay ups the stakes from the previous books, which is a major feat indeed. Taylor has rarely been pushed so hard or handled so many simultaneous crises; he's risen to the challenge of being a hero and now he's discovering that what comes next can be murder. Literally.
If you're looking for fast-paced, no-holds-barred dark urban fantasy, you need look no further: the Nightside is the place for you. With John Taylor as your guide, you know things will never be dull...