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A Walk on the Nightside by Simon R. Green
Review by Drew Bittner
Ace Trade Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 0441014488
Date: 05 September 2006 List Price $15.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

This trade paperback collects the first three Nightside novels into one attractive package:

  • Something from the Nightside introduces readers to the world of John Taylor, private eye, who is lured back into the shadowy Nightside much against his will. This story sets up Taylor, a film noir detective transplanted into the Twilight Zone, as well as establishing an intriguing collection of friends and allies. It's also revealed that Taylor's mother is a long-missing Power in the Nightside--everyone is terrified of Taylor mostly for her sake--and that relentless enemies have sought to destroy Taylor for years. Even so, Taylor is plenty tough on his own, and his magical ability to find anything (by opening his mystic third eye) gives him an unpredictable edge. Oh, and he works a missing-persons case while all this is going on.
  • In Agents of Light and Darkness, the action revs up as Taylor must find the Unholy Grail and try to return it to the Vatican. Unfortunately, legions of warrior angels have other plans... and an unknown enemy makes Taylor's mission that much harder. As the Nightside's major players make their bid for the hellish drinking vessel, Taylor has to figure out who's really calling the shots and how he can shut them down-- hard-- before angels destroy the Nightside.
  • And finally, in Nightingale's Lament, Taylor encounters Nightingale, a nightclub singer whose voice controls emotions-- and is now driving club goers to suicidal melancholy. The girl's father hires Taylor to find out what's going on. What's making her so unhappy... and why are some of the Nightside's nastier elements trying to stop Taylor's investigation in its tracks? Allied with Dead Boy, an undead mugging victim who's now a crime fighter, Taylor goes up against the wealthy and vicious Cavendishes-- and finds that even his rep can't save him from all sorts of lethal dangers.

Simon R. Green has a track record of creating fascinating worlds in diverse genres, but the Nightside may be his greatest creation yet. He manages the task of weaving together the tropes of hardboiled noir fiction with dark urban fantasy with apparent ease and a light touch. It takes a little bit to figure out the right mix, but Taylor quickly evolves from the bastard offspring of Raymond Chandler and John Constantine (aka DC Comics' Hellblazer), becoming a strong, smart-alecky knight in a trench coat through the course of his adventures. Likewise, his supporting cast (including bounty hunter Shotgun Suzie, bar owner Alex Morrissey [last descendant of Merlin Satanspawn], and a host of others) grow from story to story. The interplay between them feels like that of old friends (and sometimes rivals), right from the start.

Readers who venture into this strange territory will find it challenging to leave. But be warned: in the Nightside, absolutely nothing is what it seems.

Strongly recommended.

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