- Series: Nightside
- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: Ace Trade (September 5, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0441014488
- ISBN-13: 978-0441014484
- Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #939,287 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Walk on the Nightside Paperback – September 5, 2006
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About the Author
Simon R. Green is a New York Times bestselling author whose works include Drinking Midnight Wine, Beyond the Blue Moon, Blue Moon Rising, The Adventures of Hawk & Fisher, and the Deathstalker series. A resident of Bradford-on-Avon in England, he is currently working on the next Deathstalker novel.
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And "A Walk on the Nightside" introduces us to the first three fantasy-noir adventures of Simon R. Green's strange, creepy other-London. The first book in here starts a little shakily, but once Green finds his footing the story rolls along with a few slow spots, theological fast-and-looses, and the occasional moment that is just too weird for words.
John Taylor fled the Nightside years ago, and set up shop as a PI in London, using his special talent (finding things) to eke out a living. But when wealthy Joanna Barrett hires him to find her teenage daughter, Taylor finds himself leading her into the Nightside, and acquainting her with the terrifying, often gruesome chaos that dwells inside it.
Then they accidentally step into a timeslip, and John finds himself facing a ruined, dead world. Worse, it turns out HE was the one who did it, many years in the past. Tormented by this possible future, John must find the girl who was lured into the Nightside -- and hope that the area doesn't get blown up first.
Amidst strange angel rumors, John Taylor is hired by the Pope's undercover representative, Father Jude. The Vatican wants to hire Taylor to find the Unholy Grail -- the cup that Judas drank from at the Last Supper. Think the One Ring in cup form. So John and Shotgun Suzie prowl through the Nightside, into devil S&M clubs and neo-Nazi halls -- but the angels and demons have landed in the nightside, and will rip it to shreds to find the Grail.
And then a Nightside banker hires Taylor to help his daughter, the popular nightclub singer Rossignol -- and now her songs have gone from happy fluff to the stuff of suicide. The most likely suspects are her creepy agents, the Cavendishes. But only after a trip to their ex-client -- now a monstrous prostitute -- does Taylor begin to realize just how dangerous the Cavendishes are to Rossignol... but the truth of this doomed nightingale's song is far more terrible than he suspects.
The first half of the first book is basically an introduction to the horrors and wonders of the Nightside. And it has plenty of them Merlin's ghost, carnivore houses, UFO paranoiacs in an armed citadel, faceless assassins, fleshy guns, the pantomime of the dead, goblin drag queens, the unliving Dead Boy, Hell's neanderthals, and -- most scary of all -- teenybopper goths.
But after that, Green's mystery stories get solidly entrenched into a nice noir groove, although it usually takes him awhile to get the plots moving. His writing has a dark, wry snappiness, with plenty of solid dialogue ("Condiments. Never leave home without them") and tongue-in-cheek occurrences like the barhopping vampire. But he can imbue some more subtle horror into some scenes, like the ghastly encounter with the deadly Sylvia Sin, and the devastated world of the future.
The generically-named John Taylor is a good noir hero too -- he's got a very mysterious past and a lot of people out for his blood. The first book unfolds a devastating possible future, and the following stories give more hints about who his unknown mother is, and how he could be such a threat to the entire world and everyone in it.
Some of the other characters are not quite what they seem, but Taylor bumps into some endearingly bloodthirsty characters like Razor Eddie and Shotgun Suzie. Guess what they do for fun. And there are a number of others -- undead victims, the eerie Walker, the Collector, blind Pew, ghosts, and occasionally someone halfway normal like Taylor's teenage secretary.
"A Walk on the Nightside" brings together the first three Nightside books, and takes readers into a grotesquely fascinating world full of everything you don't want to dream about. Despite a few bumps in the road, it's a nice, dark read.
The Nightside is an ugly place, not particularly well described, but perceived through the movements of the characters. The best I could conjure up with my imagination was a filthy sewer, lined with businesses and flop houses stained with urine and blood soaked carpets. Within a very short period of time, blood and gore became so much wasted ink, and was hurled around like the residents were throwing animal feces at each other. Everywhere you walk, it squishes with some kind of offal.
The "hard boiled detective", the emotionally crippled 30 something hero of this series, whines about being abandoned by his Mommy at birth and his Daddy dying from an alcoholic binge when he was ten. (I can't imagine any man who would want to be like him, or any healthy woman who would find him attractive). His female sidekick, Suzie Shooter, is turned on by shooting things and farts for social commentary (charming). His secretary is a fourteen year old runaway from the real world who enjoys booze, masochism and dancing on tables (probably to avoid the dung on the floor). There are no sympathetic characters; "good" guys, bad guys, vampires, werewolves, demons, ghosts, angels from above and below, bums, businessmen, they all blend into one another, and telling them apart is unnecessary and impossible. Everyone is a loser and wallows in self-pity and degradation. Empty hearts, empty souls, empty lives. I couldn't find it in myself to care who lived or who died.
For those who suggest that The Nightside novels remind them of Chandler, Creasy, Butcher or Ellery Queen, I suggest that they have never read any of the above authors. Mysteries deserve a well-crafted plot, fantasy deserves a touch of reality and a few rules to make it seem magically possible. You won't find any of that here.
Basically, "A Walk on the Nightside" contained plots that didn't hold my interest, shallow characters I couldn't like and don't particularly want to hang around with (ever), a roach infested location I have no desire to visit (ever) and an apparent saga of further books containing more of the same. If all that floats your boat and gives you entertainment - go in peace (use my ticket to The Nightside, I won't be needing it again).