A Return to the Nightside

January 20, 2008

The Unnatural Inquirer, by Simon R Green 

 

The Unnatural Inquirer, by Simon R Green.

 

The eighth novel in Green’s Nightside series, about the continuing adventures of an ‘occult’ — for lack of a better word — detective who finds things in a hidden suburb of London called the Nightside, where it’s perpetually three o’clock in the morning and every fantastical or nightmare creature you can imagine haunts the streets desperately searching for pleasure or profit.

I’ve always enjoyed the series, and I like this installment; a welcome return to form after the slightly sub-par Book 7, Hell To Pay, which suffered somewhat from being the first book after a multipart arc and thus couldn’t really settle on anything. The Nightside books aren’t brain surgery: they’re easy to read and sometimes the dialogue creaks a little but they’re crammed with ideas and homages to fiction, myths, legends and horrors worldwide. Where else would you find the Punk God of the Straight Razor sharing a drink with the Travelling Doctor (no prizes for guessing who he is) in a bar haunted by Merlin Satanspawn? Where future sci-fi warlords engage in street brawls with aspects of Cthulhu and insane creations like Jessica Sorrow and the Removal Man can delete anything from reality just by disbelieving in it enough? Where the tube trains have no windows and pass through different, hideous dimensions on their way to the various stations, and things try to force themselves through the walls in transit? The Little Sisters of the Autopsy and the Cowboy Sorceror’s Guild? And John Taylor, private investigator and one of the most feared residents of the Nightside, with a special gift that’s, frankly, one of the best literary creations I’ve ever seen, endlessly and somewhat reluctantly building on his reputation…

The story for this one? The Unnatural Inquirer is somewhat akin to Britain’s The Sun and The News Of The World newspapers: all the news that isn’t fit to print, and if it isn’t true they make it up. Someone’s managed to capture images of the Afterlife on a DVD, and now a bidding war is on and the DVD has disappeared. Can John find it? Oh, and there are some fairly heavy hitters about who don’t want absolute proof of the Afterlife in public rotation…

The Nightside is always huge amounts of fun, mainly for the sheer, exuberant scope of mad ideas constantly being thrown at you. Recommended indeed, but start at the beginning with Something From The Nightside. It only gets madder from there…

 

 

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