Archive for Simon R. Green

Ghost Finders

Posted in Books, Recommendations, Urban Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , on April 19, 2015 by crookedreviews

Courtesy of goodreads.comSo I love Simon R. Green. He’s one of my all time favorite authors. It saddens me that he’s wrapping up his amazing series before he’d planned to because he has diabetes and he’s afraid he’ll leave his fans hanging. I’m not sure if his diabetes is currently manageable or life threatening, but its sad that he feels he has to do that. On the other hand, when it comes to his Ghost Finders series…I’m kinda okay with it. I’d classify this more as an urban horror/fantasy than a straight up urban fantasy novel, if only because Simon R. Green can get amazingly graphic with his descriptions.

The Ghost Finders work for the Carnacki Institute. Their job is to deal with ghosts and all ghostly related situations in Britain. Apparently this is quite the job. Our three main characters are JC Chance, “Happy” Jack Palmer and Melody Chambers. JC is your typical smooth, charming leader type. In the first book, he gets touched by something from the Outside and now hides a strange golden gaze with a pair of sunglasses.

Happy Jack isn’t very happy at all. Its an ironic nickname, like calling a tall man Tiny. Happy is a telepath, a very strong one. He’s also a coward, and the combination leads to him trying everything and anything chemical to be able to live with himself and the voices he hears. He’s currently sleeping with teammate Melody Chambers, who firmly believes that her tech can do and should do everything they could possibly think of on a mission. And she gets mighty pissed when it doesn’t. She’s a kick-ass tech geek who doesn’t take anyone’s shit.

I like those three characters. I like the dialogue he gives them and the way that he writes them as a dysfunctional buy loyal team. Their cases, though, are only mildly interesting. And there’s some sort of overarching conspiracy going on that I just can’t be arsed to care about. He could wrap this series up tomorrow honestly. I’ll still read it, but it’s more of a ‘Oh, I don’t have anything else to read and there’s a new Ghost Finders out’ sort of way than a ‘OMG, new Simon R. Green!’ sort of way.

If you really want good Simon R. Green, go for the Deathstalker series, the Nightside series and the Secret Histories series. Oh, and Hawk & Fisher natch. The nice thing about Simon is that all of his stories are subtly connected. Its amazing. Every time I read one of his books and he’s slipped in something from another novel, I have a fan girl squee moment. So, those are great. The Ghost Finders? I’d say Rating: CNot great but not unreadable.

And we’re back!

Posted in Books, Steampunk, Urban Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , on January 5, 2015 by crookedreviews

I’m sorry for the long delay folks. Its been a rough few months for me. But I’ve decided to actually do a New Years resolution for 2015 (normally I don’t bother). I’m going to try and publish one review a week, likely on the weekends (yay laundry time!). First some news!

courtesy of goodreads.comFor those of you who are fans of Jim Butcher and his Dresden Files (<3), the man himself is doing a steampunk series! Holy crap, I am so excited about this! He’s calling this the Cinder Spires and according to his twitter (@longshotauthor), its off to the editors! Of course, it’ll be a long while going through polishing before it gets released, but its written!

Second, for the Simon R. Green lovers among you (me included), we have found out that there are three more Secret Histories novels on the books, the last of which will be a war between the Droods and the Nightside! Go Nightside. :-D The titles are: Dr. DOA, Moonbreaker and Night Fall, in accordance with his James Bond themed books. Apparently we are getting just three more Secret Histories because Mr. Green has diabetes and is worried that he would leave us all hanging, should complications arise. After that he’ll be writing single novels or trilogies. I hope he continues writing for a very long time.

Gail Carriger has recently released Wasitcoats & Weaponry, the third installment of her Finishing School series. The next generation of the Parasol Protectorate will kick off in March. Featuring Prudence, the daughter of Lord and Lady Maccon. Apparently this series will be christened the Custard Protocol, the name of which made my husband decide it was the best series ever without having read any of Ms. Carriger’s awesome books. :)

Property of a Lady Faire

Posted in Books, Recommendations, Reviews, Urban Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 29, 2014 by crookedreviews

 

Property of a Lady Faire

Property of a Lady Faire

Spoilers be here. Faire (see what I did there?) warning since this is a relatively new book. Property of a Lady Faire is the latest in Simon R. Green’s Secret History novels. We start out with plucky hero Edwin Drood running from the guardians of the Vatican’s secret vaults. The guardians look like nuns and priest to begin with and then, with how he wrote it, turned in to Ringwraiths (or similar). Eddie was charged with replacing a book that the Droods felt the Vatican shouldn’t have access to. It would just upset them.

With his mission on the brink of success, Eddie uses the Merlin Glass to escape to Soho in London where he has another job. Something or someone is selling secrets from the Wulfshead Club. Since the Wulfshead is rather Vegas like in that whatever is done or said there, stays there, the management is understandable upset. And they want to get to the bottom of it. So they call Eddie in under the guise of his alter ego, Shaman Bond.

Shaman schmoozes among the clients, listening to what is and isn’t being said and is right in time for shit to go down (naturally, as he is the star of the book). People start disappearing and Eddie uses a bit of his golden torc to See that there is something wrong with the many, many televisions in the Club. Something is reaching through and snatching people because what is better than listening to secrets? Getting them directly from the source (or sources as they’re snatching damn near all the patrons).

Eddie gets mad and confronts the possessed tellys (that’s British slang for TVs, fellow Yanks). He makes it quite clear that everyone is to be returned to the club unharmed and this insidious surveillance removed or he will get very upset. Suddenly, violently and all over the place. That all said and done, everyone is returned and we find out that the government is behind the whole thing (the representative being old pal Alan Diment who really doesn’t like Eddie or the Droods).

The Club management thanks Eddie, tells him that they owe him a favor and drop him off directly on the grounds of Drood Hall. This is something that shouldn’t be able to happen so Eddie (and the family) are necessarily worried. They’ve had a lot of attacks on the Hall recently after all. So Eddie ambles on up to the Hall, collecting Molly on the way and goes to meet the family council. He doesn’t really want to, he rather hates the bureaucracy, but his grandmother left him something in her will (of course, she did die several books ago but there are traditions to be maintained apparently).

Among other things, the Matriarch appointed her sister (the gardener) as Matriarch because she feels the family needs a Matriarch and she leaves Eddie a box. This box is rather like a mini monolith from 2001/2010 in that they haven’t been able to open or scan it. Its set so only Eddie can open it and he doesn’t really want it, not the least because the Matriarch’s will specifically stated that it is something that will make him undisputed head of the family (I can’t wait to see what this turns out to be). Eddie basically tells the lot of them to shove off (again) and leaves with the box in tow (he may not want it but he doesn’t want any of them to have it either).

Business done, he and Molly go to visit his grandfather, the Regent of Shadows. They want to know why he killed Molly’s parents (who, from what I understand, were not good people at all). Unfortunately, they’re too late. Someone has taken down his organization, every last one of them, including the Regent himself. Which really should have been impossible since he had Kayleigh’s Eye physically implanted in his chest.

The thing that did that (referred to as the Voice by Eddie because they have no way of telling what it is beyond the voice they’re hearing) wants Eddie to retrieve the Lazarus Stone or else Eddie’s parents are dead. Again. Well, for realsies this time. Neither Eddie nor Molly know what the hell a Lazarus Stone is so Eddie goes the only place he can…back to Drood Hall to talk to the Drood in Cell13.

This Drood (Laurence) used to be the family Armourer before Jack. He did something to himself that affected his brain. He now knows everything in the old and new Drood libraries, not to mention every new thing that happens within Drood Hall. He doesn’t appear to age any longer and the family all agreed (including poor Laurence) that he was too much of a danger to the family to be allowed to roam free so they built him a very specialized prison cell.

Laurence is definitely more than a little batshit and he tugs Molly and Eddie around by the nose a bit but eventually tells them that the Lazarus Stone is a bit of the stone that was rolled away from Lazarus’ tomb so Jesus could raise him from the dead. Supposedly. In the end, the best explanation we have as to what this thing can do is that its some sort of mechanism (possibly alien in origin) that has to do with time travel. He also hints that Eddie’s late grandfather, the Regent, last had the stone. This they already know so with Droods bearing down on them thanks to all sorts of alarms, they run off to the Armoury to talk to Jack (one of my personal favorite characters in this series).

Jack eventually tells Eddie that his brother James had the stone and gave it to a woman he actually loved, a courtesan of Frankensteinian make called the Lady Faire. She was apparently made to be everyone’s perfect sexual object (men, women, other). She had many lovers and more ex-lovers and James knew that she’d never be his and yet love makes you do silly things.

The rest of the book is Eddie and Molly facing increasing odds as they try to figure out a way to 1) find the Lady Faire and 2) get close enough to her to take this. Of course, things aren’t that straight forward and there is a bit of a twist toward the end that is quite good (made me grin really). I loved this book and I was really temped to immediately start reading it again. In fact, I may just have to go back and reread it right now. Highly recommended, rating: A+.

A Hard Day’s Knight

Posted in Books, Recommendations, Reviews, Urban Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2013 by crookedreviews

Simon R. Green does love his punny titles. A Hard Day’s Knight picks up immediately after The Good, the Bad and the Uncanny left off. John just gets home from rescuing Tommy Oblivion and killing Walker and is looking forward to some down time with Suzie when she give him some unpleasant news. Something came in the post for him. And when he spots it, that something looks suspiciously sword shaped.

And it is Excalibur. Someone has sent it through ordinary post to John. But why him? If there was every anyone not worthy to hold such an item, its John. And yet clearly he’s meant to be carrying it for some reason. It feels right to pick it up and wield it. When Suzie reaches for it, she just knows that she’s not worthy enough to touch it.

In order to find out the answer to his question, he has to go out to London Proper, to find the London Knights. The London Knights are the descendants of King Arthur’s original round table knights. They have been training down the centuries for the time that Excalibur would come back into the world and Arthur would wake from his long sleep. They know more about the myth and legend (and facts) that is King Arthur than any group or person.

Of course, since they are descended from Arthur’s knights, they very much disapprove of the Nightside and all its denizens (this includes the practically saintly Julien Advent). They are not happy that John has Excalibur rather than one of them, but the Lady of the Lake pops in and tells them all to grow up. Some of you Green fans might recognize the Lady of the Lake, Gayle (Gaea-Mother Earth) from Drinking Midnight Wine. Green so does love to intertwine his story lines, which I love.

John has a destiny (which he really isn’t a happy about). He is to wake Arthur and prevent the Elves from going to civil war with each other. Of course, no one knows exactly where Arthur is sleeping, but that’s minor details! Especially when the aforementioned Elves break into the London Knights’ demesne of Castle Inconnu.  There is a great battle where much ass is kicked and John…manages to lose Excalibur to a man (and former Knight) named Jerusalem Stark (great name).

So of course, he has to get it back. Stark runs to the Nightside to sell Excalibur to King Artur of Sinister Albion. Sinister Albion is an alternate history of Camelot where Merlin Satanspawn accepts the title of Antichrist and everything goes to shit. Quite literally. John and Suzie are so close to getting Excalibur back when she kills Artur and Stark escapes to Sinister Albion. This swordbearer thing is a lot harder than it sounds.

So they go to the Doormouse (and I’d love to see an artist’s rendering of this character because he sounds just so delightfully fuzzy) and get a door to this alternate earth. We see yet more mayhem and ass kicking and John finally gets Excalibur back. The Gaea from this time track sends them back to the Nightside but they’re a bit worse for wear. They’re filthy from the fighting and since they ended up in the wishing well of the Mammon Emporium (poor thing), they decide that cleaning up is the first order of business. Luckily you can find pretty much anything in the Mammon Emporium and that includes heavy duty cleaners. Half an hour and they’re good as new but the night is long and so very far from over.

John heads back to London Proper (with Suzie this time because he gets in trouble otherwise) and they bang on the door of the Castle Inconnu until they’re allowed in. John refuses to let the Knights beat around the bush any longer and insists on talking to their so called Grand Master. Imagine their surprise at coming face to face with Sir Kae, who they ran into in Paths Not Taken. And of course he still remembers them (how many people do you think have brained him with his own mace?) though he holds not grudges.

Turns out that Merlin, in all his nasty sense of humor, made Kae immortal so that something of the old, glorious Camelot would be around when Arthur woke up. And he is the only one who knows where Arthur is buried. And it isn’t Avalon (a rumor Kae started) and it isn’t Glastonbury (a modern myth I believe). It’s the basement of Strangefellows because honestly, who would think to look there. Especially with Merlin being buried right next to him.

Kae leads John, Suzie and Alex (because its his bar god damn it) into the cellars and John lays Excalibur at Arthur’s feet. Arthur pops awake as if its been mere hours, though he has been listening in his sleep this whole time (an easy way to get Arthur to speak modern English, natch). There is much rejoicing between brothers and much drinking by Arthur, whose quite thirsty after almost fifteen hundred years.

Still, they’re not quite sure what exactly they need to do. John doesn’t get much time to enjoy being in the presence of a legend. He gets a call from Julien Advent, who insists on meeting right. Now.  So John fires up the portable timeslip from Walker’s watch (which he stole before Walker took a swan dive) and meets Julien…at the place where Griffin Hall used to stand. Where Walker was killed by John’s own hand.

Julien shows John that Elves have come to the Nightside and are slaughtering people. He doesn’t know which faction they come from but it hardly matters. He demands John do something. John says he has an idea that Julien will almost certainly not like and then whisks himself off to Strangefellows before Julien can object. He tells the others what is happening and asks Kae to get his Knights. It order to do this in a timely fashion however, they have to go back to the Doormouse, who throws himself at Arthur and snuggles. Its rather cute.

The Doormouse is how the Elves got into Castle Inconnu earlier and though he isn’t entirely unrepentant, he does agree to send them back. There’s much rejoicing (yay) by the Knights at seeing their king alive and well. Arthur rouses them to battle and the whole lot of them (around a thousand in all) head into the Nightside via the Knights’ own dimensional doors (which I can only imagine must be operated from within the hall because otherwise why wouldn’t Kae use that instead of the Doormouse?).

Elves and Knights clash until the Elves are beaten down. John is pissed at this whole thing because there are people, his people, dead and dying in the streets and buildings mere ruins now. He’s damn well tired of the carnage and demands that Mab, Oberon and Titania parley with Arthur. And it is Arthur’s presence that ensures they actually do, because the Elves still have honor and they have old agreements with Camelot and her king.

In order to press upon every one that a civil war is most definitely a bad idea, John brings them all to a place he’s been working to erase since Something from the Nightside. The dead future timeline where he killed Razor Eddie is still a possibility (and he wishes he knew why, because he really wants to avoid it). Arthur and Kae are shocked and horrified. Oberon and Titania agree that perhaps a civil war is a bad thing but what can they do?

Its then that Arthur tells them of the Doormouse and his doors to alternate earths. There is a pristine earth behind one of those doors. An earth that has never known a sentient being, let alone something like and elf or a human. The Elves can thrive there, can be themselves there. Oberon and Titania agree but Mab, crazy Mab, does not. She’s all set to kick off some major carnage when she’s taken out (very trickily) by her own son, Puck.

And so war is averted for now. The Elves go to their paradise, where they can thrive. Oberon locks the door to that plane and disappears into Shadows Fall. He and Titania don’t belong in the new world. They are far too old fashioned for it. Arthur goes off with the Lady of the Lake, to await the Final Battle (whenever and wherever that may be). Kae gets to stay through the coming years the hard way. Again.

And John gets a bit of surprising news from Suzie. But we’ll wait until the next book to spill that little tidbit. :-) This was great. I loved the whole thing, beginning to end. If you could read just one of the Nightside books, I’d have to say that this should be it. Rating: A+.

The Good, the Bad and the Uncanny

Posted in Books, Recommendations, Reviews, Urban Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 18, 2013 by crookedreviews

Such a good book. Simon R. Green starts us right off with John Taylor wandering about the Nightside in a bit of a mood. Things are going well for him. Too well (bum-bum-buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuum. You can really hear the ‘you just jinxed yourself music). He and Suzie can actually be physical with each other since her experience with the Walking Man. He’s got enough money (likely from the Griffin case) that he can only take cases he finds interesting and nothing major has happened to the Nightside recently.

So of course he runs into a flux fog. This interesting little idea is a play on how shadowy and uncertain fog can be. Have you ever driven in really thick fog and been hyper alert because you just don’t know what’s going to happen? If you’re going to hit something? Well, multiply that by a lot and you get a flux fog. Only instead of just people wandering about their business, people and things can come out from other dimensions. As Green says, a flux fog is when the edges of the world just don’t meet right. Anything can happen.

John, feeling at loose ends and looking for a change, calmly steps into the fog. Of course, nothing happens to him which is just his luck. Thankfully, his secretary Cathy has a job for him, one that he has to take because wouldn’t you know it? An elf is involved. Now elves are not cute, playful little things like they are in a lot of modern fairy tales. Elves are impossibly gorgeous, yes, but they are vicious, bloodthirsty, technologically advanced and absolutely hate humans. The only reason they don’t fight humans anymore is because humans out breed them. There is only one rule with elves: Don’t trust them. They always lie except for when the truth can hurt you more.

This elf wants John to escort him across the Nightside to a place called the Osterman Gate. It is a dimension door that leads directly to Shadows Fall, where the court of Oberon and Titania is located. This elf, called Lord Screech (and yes, when I first read the book, I pictured Dustin Diamond from Saved by the Bell), is a messenger between Oberon and Titania’s court and the court of Queen Mab. They’re at war but Screech is transporting a peace treaty. And not everyone wants that treaty signed.

John basically says what the hell, calls up Ms. Fate (the Nightside’s own transvestite super heroine) and takes the job. He calls Ms Fate because he needs wheels and Dead Boy is not available. John should really think about investing in a car. At any rate, the threesome fight off attacks left, right and center (some of them quite imaginative on Green’s part but that isn’t very unusual) and the juuuuust fail to make the Osterman Gate.

At that point, Lord Screech reveals himself to be not the Lord Screech (surely you jest!) but the very Loki-like (both the Norse god and the bad guy from the Avengers, sort of a mix) Puck. He was just a diversion, a way to keep everyone’s attention on him. The real messenger is already in Shadows Fall. Ha ha, joke’s on you silly humans! But just before Puck leaves, he gives John his payment for the help received. It seems something very old and very powerful is coming to the Nightside, but it isn’t what everyone thinks it is. What could this possibly be? Why, Excalibur of course! This comes of a few more times during the book but Excalibur itself doesn’t really make an appearance until the following book.

After that, John heads to Strangefellows because you’d need a big drink with a really big chaser too. Trying to relax, John gets interrupted by Larry Oblivion, the dead detective. Larry is insistent that John help him find his brother Tommy, who was lost (quite literally) during the Lilith War. No one, not even John (who has looked many times) has been able to find him or the body. Larry  wants him found and wants him found now.

John wants to know why Larry is so very keen all of a sudden and it seems that Larry’s (much) older brother, Hadleigh Oblivion, is now interested. At which point the bar goes quiet and John curses. Everyone is scared of Hadleigh, who has kind of become something like a boogie man. He went into the Deep School where they tell you horrible secrets and show you the real nature of the world. And he came through it. Those who survive the Deep School come out unimaginably powerful. And freakin’ scary.

We also find out that Larry has an elf wand (something that was hinted at in Hell to Pay) and how he came to get it. Turns out he was duped by an elf (what’s the first rule of dealing with elves? Yup, you got it) and accidentally let Queen Mab free from Hell. That Hell. So Larry feels he has to majorly make up for that before he actually gets one of the Nightside’s many denizens to release him from his zombism (zombieism?), John finally agrees to assist hiim but just as he does, Walker shows up.

Telling Larry that he’ll meet him at Cheyne Walk near the Tube station, John listens to Walker. He’s dying (we know) and he wants John to take over his position. John refuses point blank and Walker goes off to wherever he is when he isn’t harassing people. John knows this isn’t the end of this thing with Walker but he has a job to do.

John and Larry meet up again at Cheyne Walk and discuss what they both know about Tommy’s disappearance. Of course, Walker shows up again but this time with a bargain. John needs to walk with him, see what it is he does with his time, and he’ll tell John where to find Tommy. John reluctantly agrees and he walks the Nightside with Walker, not at all certain that he likes or approves of what he sees. It certainly doesn’t convince him to take up the job.

Eventually, Walker gives in for now and tells John that the Collector has started collecting people, not just objects. John locates the man at the far end of the Tube system, where no one ever goes any more. It isn’t even on the map of the system, a hellish place called Lud’s Gate. And certainly the Collector’s gone round the twist but no, he hasn’t gone snatching people. He doesn’t particularly even like people, why would he want to collect him.

Turns out, it was just a ruse to get Walker to find the Collector. See the Collector warded himself against Walker, but he didn’t think to ward John as well. Walker told John and Larry what they wanted to hear (Tommy’s location, only not really) and simply followed them. So he could kill the Collector, much to John and Larry’s dismay. The two of them hurry back to the Nightside, appalled and a bit dispirited because they’re no close to finding Tommy.

When they reach Cheyne Walk again, Walker calls John and simply tells him where to find Hadleigh Oblivion, who is out causing a bit of trouble at St. Jude’s. Not trusting Walker in the slightest any more, John confirms with Cathy and he and Larry head off. Once they arrive, they find the Lord of Thorns in high dudgeon. It turns out his powers hadn’t been broken really, they’d been suppressed by Walker and the denizens of the Street of the Gods. And Thorns is pissed.

At this point we get our first introduction to Hadleigh Oblivion. Tall with a total monochromatic motif going on, Hadleigh is intimidating and off putting. He doesn’t really do the who exposition-y explanation either. Just that he knows where Tommy is but they can’t quite do anything yet. They need to wait for something. And that something is Walker, who shows up yet again.

John turns him down flat when Walker asks John if he wants the job again. Disappointed, Walker whisks them out of St. Jude’s and to the former site of Griffin Hall. The garden has been transmogrified into a full blown jungle and is nasty with it. Walker has a plan, you see, to use a piece of tech that the Collector found. It can transfer Walker’s mind into John’s. He’s going to use John’s body to continue his (Walker’s) work and kill anyone who might have known that he wasn’t the real John (That is to say, Cathy, Suzie and Alex to start).

Well John just does not take that shit. He fights Walker and fights a bit dirty to be honest. Eventually Walker loses and while John is feeling bad about this (Walker was the closest thing he had to a father after all), Hadleigh shows up. It is now time to find Tommy. Hadleigh takes him back to Cheyne Walk where Larry is waiting for them.

The tech that Walker was going to use is the key. You see Tommy the Existential Detective uncertained himself out existence. He’s become a soft ghost and there are specific things needed to bring him (and the other soft ghosts) back to the world: John’s gift, the mind tech, Larry’s unique nature and Hadleigh’s knowledge to facilitate it all. Happy endings all around until John realizes that he can’t call Walker to deal with the soft ghosts no longer. Determined not to fall into Walker’s job by accident, John calls the New Authorities and finally gets home.

This book made me a little sad, even though it introduced a character that I like a lot (Hadleigh Oblivion). Sad because Walker is dead and he was the kind of character that you loved to hate. And you even felt a little sorry for the man at times. I will actually miss Walker. He’s a good foil for John. So Rest in Peace Walker, you will be missed. And stay tuned for the next thrilling adventure! Rating: B. I kind of felt that the bit where Larry was explaining about how he freed Mab could have been cut out entirely or at least shortened.

Just Another Judgement Day

Posted in Books, Recommendations, Reviews, Urban Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2013 by crookedreviews

So last book we had a bit of a lighthearted romp (can’t believe I just typed that) in The Unnatural Inquirer. So of course Simon R. Green has to go darker in Just Another Judgement Day. This book starts out with John and Suzie drinking away a bad case in Strangefellows. A Spring heeled Jack meme invaded the Nightside from a timeslip and started completely overwrite the people it took over. It turned into a huge bloody mess that killed a lot of people. No one was happy, not even when John figured out where it was coming from and had it shut down.

So here they are, drinking and clearly wanting to be left alone when a clownishly dressed man famous for just being famous (i.e.-the Kardashians and Paris Hilton. Ugh) demands that John help him figure out what’s going on with his former party pals. These people are pretty much professional partiers. They go to all the in clubs and parties, do all the drugs, drink all the drinks and live a hard life. But his friends aren’t looking like they’re having any ill effects. They look young and healthy and vital and this poor man (with the unfortunate name of Percy d’Arcy) is aging. And he can’t get in to the health club they’re going to. An obscenely large sum of money is offered, so John and Suzie accept the case.

They head to the health spa and are almost immediately given the boot. That doesn’t stop them though. They hang around for a while, lulling the spa people into a false sense of security (good lord, I’m going for all the cliches tonight), before breaking in and finding out the secret. Someone has stabilized a timeslip and are kidnapping alternate version of the well-to-do partiers and doing a bit of reverse voodoo on them. That is to say the kidnapped people are strapped to tables and feel all the effects of anything the partiers do (drugs, alcohol, plastic surgery etc). Percy didn’t get in because his alternate was already dead in the other world.

Turns out that the (supposed) original Dr. Frankenstein was just using this place as a way to fund his ongoing and really quite horrible research. John and Suzie shut him and his creations down with prejudice and let Walker take care of the victims. Much later, having gone home after this, Walker comes around with some really bad news. One, he thinks of John as a son. Two, the Walking Man is in town and are threatening the New Authorities. Which may really be three bad things depending on who the New Authorities turn out to be.

They need John’s help and want to meet with him. Who are the New Authorities? Julien Advent (natch), Jessica Sorrow, the King of Skin, Count Video and Anne Abattoir. Sound familiar? John has a panic attack wondering what it all means before they confirm what Walker said. The Walking Man is in town, the wrath of god (literally) in the world of men. He goes anywhere and kills anything that he perceives as being evil or against god. Which in the Nightside is damn near everything. No one has ever stopped a Walking Man (its a title or position. There have been many in the past).  So no pressure.

John accepts the charge by the New Authorities and heads out (with a bit of assistance from Walker) with Suzie Shooter and new character Chandra Singh (holy warrior and monster hunter extraordinaire from India) to a place called Precious Memories. This is the place where John found the Walking Man with his gift. And they are utterly appalled by the complete carnage they find. No one survived. And they don’t know why. All John and Suzie know about this place is that they’re supposed to give you memories from another person but in a way where you feel they’re yours.

Turns out, the Walking Man leaves them a recording. It contains him killing every man, woman, security guard and dog (which I am completely against. I don’t believe in bad dogs, just bad owners) in the building until he gets down to the heart of the place. There he finds possibly the most horrifying thing Green has written about because it’s something that could actually exist in this world. Children of mixed sexes and varying ages, kept in cages. I can’t really say what they did but you can guess and you can guess what the people buying the “precious memories” were really buying (ick, ick, ick). John and the others don’t feel very bad about the deaths any more.

They wait until Walker and his people can show up, trying to get the kids to respond but Suzie (with her own horrible background) is the one who connects with them. And she finds that she can touch them like she can’t bear with anyone else, because its a lot like hugging herself (*tear*). John and Chandra leave Suzie with the kids (she insists) and go after the Walking Man, heading to Clubland and the Boys Club.

This is the club for the big movers and shakers in the Nightside. They can do pretty much anything here in the safety of their club. John and Chandra meet up with the Walking Man outside. He wants to show off apparently because he invites them in with him, ignoring their attempts to sway him. He points out all the evil that the big names have done and proceeds to clean house. Chandra joins in. These people are monsters and he’s a monster hunter. John just tries to stay out of the way. In the end, he decides that the Walking Man can’t go on but that they need more information.

He and Chandra head for the Badlands (the really bad part of the Nightside, and that’s saying something). They talk to Tamsin Macready, the new rogue vicar (a post she took over from old blind Pew after the Lilith War). She doesn’t have much to stay that they don’t already know. She only suggests trying to shake his faith. With nothing else to go on, John takes them to St. Jude’s church to speak with the Lord of Thorns. He isn’t helpful either except to suggest the Speaking Gun (which John thought he destroyed but apparently it is very hard to kill).

In order to do that, he needs to go to the Street of the Gods where coincidence has it the Walking Man is. There is much carnage and a showdown with Razor Eddie before the Walking Man does what he does best and walks off in search of a new target. John gets the gun from the Gun Shop, which is on the Street of the Gods due to the fact that some people do in fact worship their weaponry. And there it is, sitting on a shelf in one of the Collector’s boxes. John takes it and gets a call from Walker as soon as he steps out of the shop. The Walking Man is nearing the Authorities, get your ass over here now John (essentially).

Walker transports John and Chandra to the Adventurers Club (the new home of the New Authorities). Many people are there, not just members of the club, to defend the New Authorities (and to see some violence, lets be honest here people). John and Chandra meet with the New Authorities and tell them the big, awful plan: use the Speaking Gun and pray it works. No one is happy, especially when the Walking Man actually shows up.

He marches through all the security protections, magical and scientific, and takes out a few club members before coming face to face with John and the Speaking Gun. John just can’t use it though. It is too awful and it would cost him too much, damn what is left of his soul. Chandra grabs the gun, thinking he can use it but he experiences the same thing. He just can’t. So the Walking Man destroys the gun. Again.

In the end, John puts himself between the Walking Man and the Authorities. He’s unarmed and unwilling to fight back. He doesn’t want to die but he believes in the New Authorities. He won’t make it easy on the Walking Man, who just shrugs in acceptance and tries to shoot John. And tries to shoot him. And tries to shoot him. Despite his guns being fully loaded (they’re revolvers and John can see the bullets), the guns don’t fire.

It turns out that as tarnished as John us, he was ‘innocent’ in the eyes of god as he was unarmed and stood up for what he believed in. Why has no one else caught onto this catch in the impenetrable armor that is the Walking Man. With his power broken, the Walking Man is just a man again. And there was much rejoicing. Yay. Until, of course, John finds out that Walker (both a father figure and an enemy) is dying. And cut! That’s where Green leaves off. What will happen next? We find out in The Good, The Bad, and the Uncanny, which I am off to read.

This book gives us a look at a character that Simon R. Green has mention in a few other series. He really likes to interweave his stories, which I love. It’s an okay book but it was really a way to set up the next book. Still, it had some good bits in it and is worth the read. Rating: B-.

The Unnatural Inquirer

Posted in Books, Recommendations, Reviews, Urban Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 16, 2013 by crookedreviews

So I think I’ve gone and kick started myself back to reading. I started and finished Simon R. Green’s The Unnatural Inquirer yesterday afternoon. :-)

So The Unnatural Inquirer starts off with John wrapping up a case at the HP Lovecraft Memorial Library (hee) and running into two very dangerous people outside, Walker and Suzie Shooter. Now John doesn’t mind seeing Suzie since they’re an item and are, in fact, living together. But it is never a good thing when Walker shows up and now is no exception.

Walker has hired Suzie to track down one of the Nightside’s Major Players, Max Maxwell the Voodoo Apostate. “The man so big they named him twice”.  Suzie, being a bounty hunter, is quite good at finding people. But Max has dug a hole and pulled it in after him. So Walker needs John to find him because Max was dumb and unleashed a bunch of loa (voodoo gods/beings) using something called the Aquarius Key (as in the song. It was the 60s).

They start at Max’s office and John uses his gift to show what Max was doing last, then following the ‘ghost’ Max out into the Nightside and all the way to one of the Nightside’s Bad Places. Even in a place like the Nightside, there are Bad Places. The Fun Faire is one of them. Someone had decided that an amusement park was just the thing that the people needed and of course it went horribly, horribly wrong. They’ve tried to exorcise the place fourteen times to no avail but that means that only the stupid or desperate would willingly go there. Like Max.

John and Suzie corner Max only he wasn’t as stupid as they thought. Okay, he was but he had a plan that required him entering the Fun Faire. You see, all the really bad juju that was in the Faire soaked into the Aquarius Key, supercharging it. Max wants to transport himself to the land of the loa, use the key to take over and transform himself into a god. Except the loa are pissed with a capital P and are hunting him down, first in the bodies of some of the Nightside’s best bounty hunters (not Suzie though. They wouldn’t dare) and then by the decaying bits of Fun Faire like the dodge ’em cars and carousel ponies.

And through this, Max still tries to get away from John and Suzie. First Suzie blows his hand off so they can get the Key and shut everything down and then she blows his kneecap off because he threatened her and John. Finally John, with a bit of surprise help from Walker, get the loa back where they belong with the promise of severe punishment for Max. He’s being sent to Shadow Deep, the Nightside’s own and terrible prison (cross Azkaban with no dementors with the Cask of Amantillado).

After that, Suzie goes to collect her bounty and John gets a new job with the Nightside’s very own gossip rag The Unnatural Inquirer. They print everything whether its true or not and the nastier the better. They keep the whole company in a pocket dimension so their many and varied enemies can’t destroy them (because that has been tried). John gets picked up by some time reporter Harry Fabulous (remember him?) and transported right into the lobby, where he’s forced to wait for the assistant editor Scoop Malloy (its not what you think. He used to work with animals).

And what problem could the foremost gossip paper possibly need John Taylor for? Well, they have purchased what might possibly be a recording of the Afterlife, made by a mousy little man named Pen Donovan. Only before they could get their hands on it, Donovan and his recording went missing. So John is to find him. The catch is that he must bring along demon (literally) girl reporter Bettie Divine. Bettie is half-succubus and half Rolling Stone (which one is never specified). John balks at this but they offer him a staggeringly good fee.

They stop by the Hawk’s Wind Bar & Grill (and can I just say how cool it would be to go there?) and talk about what Bettie knows about Donovan and who might be behind the disappearance. In the end, its much speculation and little facts so they go to Pen Donovan’s flat which is fairly nondescript. He was one of many timeslip junk dealers and he wasn’t doing well by the looks of things. His television was done up with unusual tech, which makes both John and Bettie think that maybe, just maybe, he did record something after all.

With no signs of Donovan and no real clues, they head to the Street of the Gods to see if anyone there knows what’s going on. No one does though they do start thinking that marketing CDs is a damn fine idea for raising money. John starts a minor god war and they leave posthaste, discussing how real they think this recording is. John decides that he’s going to need a word with Walker and heads them both to the Londinium Club.

The last Doorman died in the the Lilith War but they have a new one, decked out in full Victorian chic. John tries getting around him the easy way but its no go and so he has to stare the poor man down. Finally they get a word with Walker and John asks where he can find the Collector. Surely the Collector will either have the the recording or know where it is. Walker tells them that the last he knew, the Collector was in the Museum of Unnatural History. In the Tyrannosaur exhibit. The living Tyrannosaur exhibit. :-D

Well, the Collector turns out to be a bust though John and Bettie to get to outfox a Tyrannosaur. The next stop is the Cardinal, a defrocked priest who is like the Collector for religious/historic items. He doesn’t have it and he’s not sure if he wants it. Being a former priest, he doesn’t want to know for certain if heaven exists. John mentions that the thought he had of the Removal Man being out for it and the Cardinal freaks.

The Removal Man is a Nightside boogie man of sorts. No one’s ever seen him but the story is, if someone offends his sense of morality (which isn’t hard in the Nightside), he disappears them. They cease to exist. John and Bettie find themselves unceremoniously kicked out of the Cardinal’s place…and the man is immediately attacked. They break back in but he is gone and there is no sign of anyone else there.

In the middle of all this (like my segue?), there are three people who are vying for the spot of the recently deceased Authorities: General Condor (from a future timeline), Uptown Taffy Lewis (major real estate man, very obese and so far from nice he can’t even spell it), and Queen Helena (another future timeline person who claimed to be Queen of the earth after the sun starts dying). They all want John to back them, which he doesn’t do and doesn’t want to do. Eventually, he starts a major street fight between the lot and lets Walker sort it out.

At a dead end, John is warning Bettie this could be quite a long case when old friend Alex Morrisey calls up in a state. Well…when is Alex not in a state? Anyway, it seems like Mr. Pen Donovan has showed up in Strangefellows and driven off the usual clients. John uses his membership card to transport them right there (because Alex is really cranky).  Donovan looks quite the worse for wear and is being a bit paranoid (which is healthy in the Nightside really), for good reason. Kid Cthulu sends a bunch of thugs in the bar after him. John, Alex and the bouncer sisters the Coltranes kick the crap out of them and then John calms Donovan down and takes the DVD of the Afterlife Recording from him.

Alex hesitantly agrees to let John view the recording and leads him upstairs to his flat above the bar. And John is stunned at the state of it. It’s clean! Alex’s pornographic porcelain figurines are gone. He has matching furniture! Turns out, Alex is dating someone. Well, living with someone really. And who is that? To John’s enormous shock, its his secretary (and daughter in every way that matters), Cathy Barrett. He disapproves at first (Cathy is nineteen and Alex is about John’s age) but then admits that Cathy is an adult and can take care of herself.

Determined to talk about that later with Alex, John and Bettie finally get down to watching the Afterlife Recording when John notices something. Every face on the recording is that of Pen Donovan. Every tortured soul, every demon, is Donovan. So clearly this is not the real deal but a case of psychic imprinting (discussed earlier in the book). But why would a mild little man like Pen Donovan believe himself to be hellbound?

John heads back downstairs and asks Donovan just that. Turns out that he put down his dog for a woman, who left him eventually anyway. The dog was perfectly healthy and his only real friend. He feels guilty about that, terribly guilty. Wondering why all this was coming up now since it apparently happened some time ago, John discovers that Pen Donovan is inhabited by some sort of parasite that feeds off his guilt and fear. And he’s pretty much dead. So John finds the one thing that will ease Donovan’s guilt and pain. His dog, Prince. He opens a door to the afterlife (or makes it appear he does) and the dog comes back, assures Donovan that he doesn’t hold him responsible (yes, a talking dog. Live with it) and takes him back to heaven with him. John then squishes the ever living fuck out of the parasite because there are some things he just does not put up with.

Thinking that he’s all set and can finally get the damn DVD to the Unnnatural Inquirer, John finds himself sidetracked by Kid Cthulu. He and Bettie end up in Uptown with Kid Cthulu, surprise-surprise, tries to kill them. John gets there first only to find himself face to face with the Removal Man. Sometimes it just does not pay to get out of bed. After dealing with him and the man behind his power (the editor of the Unnatural Inquirer), John finally gets around to returning the Aquarius Key to Walker outside the Londinium Club (it has new decorations, the heads of Helena, Condor and Uptown Taffy Lewis). He turns the DVD over to Bettie and the Unnatural Inquirer and all is good. For now.

This book was great because it was a fairly lighthearted book for the Nightside arc. It was more comedic than the last few and gave us a good break from the doom and gloom of the Lilith war. I highly recommend this book. Rating: A+.

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