Simon R. Green

Books: Fantasy | Mystery

Hawk & Fisher: Blue Moon Rising (1991), Swords of Haven (1999)

Nightside: Something from the Nightside (2003), Agents of Light and Darkness (2003), Nightingale's Lament (2004), Hex and the City (2005), Paths Not Taken (2005), Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth (2006), Hell To Pay (2006), Unnatural Inquirer (2007), Just Another Judgment Day (2009), The Good, the Bad, and the Uncanny (2010), A Hard Day's Knight (2011), The Bride Wore Black Leather (2012), Tales from the Nightside (2015)

Ghost Finders: Ghost of a Chance (2010), Ghost of a Smile (2011)

Eddie Drood: The Man with the Golden Torc (2007), Daemons Are Forever (2008)

Ishmael Jones: The Dark Side of The Road (2015), Dead Man Walking (2016), Very Important Corpses (2017)


Powers of Detection (2004), Unusual Suspects (2008), Wolfsbane and Mistletoe (2008), Mean Streets (2009), The Best Paranormal Crime Stories Ever Told (2010), The Way of the Wizard (2010), Down These Strange Streets (2011), Home Improvement: Undead Edition (2011), Those Who Fight Monsters: Tales of Occult Detectives (2011), Hex Appeal (2012), Weird Detectives: Recent Investigations (2013), Magic City: Recent Spells (2014), Tales from the Nightside (2015), Street Magicks (2016)

Hawk & Fisher

Blue Moon Rising (1991)

I believe it was Tania who was shocked that I had not read Blue Moon Rising. After all, I love the appalling John Taylor of Nightside, so why hadn't I read Blue Moon Rising? Especially since I own a used copy of it?

Two not very good reasons. First, I bought it used, and I got a beat-up copy. I try not to break the spines of my paperback books, so you can see how this might bother me a bit. Second, it's 476 pages. Yeah, it's only a single book, not a series, but that's a lot of book to hold, and I find myself more and more reluctant to read larger books, as they often hurt my hands to hold. (I'm looking at YOU Neal Stephenson.) But I finally broke down and read it.

And it was fun!

Rupert is a second son who has been sent out in a quest, mostly to get him out of the way, since his family doesn't have any money or a kingdom to bestow upon extra. So he sets out with his unicorn to cross the Darkwood to slay a dragon. While there he inadvertently rescues a princess. And discovers that the Darkwood is getting far more dangerous than anyone had realized.

Blue Moon Rising definitely plays with the idea of the fantasy quest adventure. As well as the idea of princesses who need rescued, and who the bad guys in a story really are.

Rupert and Julia are a lot of fun, and the fact the book is set in a magical realm allows him to play around with the idea of what princesses can and cannot do, even if they aren't doing what is expected of them. In other words, he doesn't overplay the fact that the princess stands up for herself, which can be a hard line not to cross. She is the way she is, and people may be horrified by it, but that's just the way it is.

The writing style, although not the Simon Green of the Nightside books (appalling!) is still light and fun. He doesn't take himself or his story too seriously, which makes the read a fun romp. If you like your fantasy to be serious and with Great Meaning, then you probably won't enjoy Blue Moon Rising. Otherwise, you may want to check it out, because it's fun.

Rating: 8/10

Swords of Haven (1999)

Swords of Haven, the omnibus edition containing the three Hawk and Fisher books, Hawk & Fisher, Winner Takes All, The God Killer, is a very odd book.

The stories are set in a world of magic, where swords and magic are the weaponry of choice. Hawk and Fisher are Captains of the Guard in the city of Haven. However, much of the writing reminds me of a hard boiled crime novel, rather than a slash and hack sword & sorcery novel. Not that there's anything wrong with that per se, it was just... off somehow.

Additionally, I kept seeing Nightside in Haven, which was somewhat jarring. He'd describe something and I'd see in my mind how he'd improved on it in the Nightside. And again, it wasn't a bad thing per se, it just kept pulling me out of the story and into thinking about the Nightside

However, I still enjoyed the three stories. Hawk & Fisher was a locked room mystery / police procedural, only with swords and magic instead of guns and technology. Half the mystery I guessed as soon as the first clue was dropped, the second half was a surprised. As was the outcome of the story--didn't expect things to turn out the way they did, which was interesting.

Winner Takes All was my least favorite of the three stories. Political intrigue and campaigning, as Hawk & Fisher are assigned to guard the Reform candidate. Only in Haven the campaign and election are compressed into a single day. Which is a fascinating idea, except that I kept losing track of time, and I'm pretty sure that unless time runs differently in Haven, things had to have lasted longer than a single day. But still, it was interesting and fun. (And I have to say that Roxanne immediately made me thing of Thieves' World. Of course the character was different, although the tone was about right.)

The third book, The God Killer, was another mystery, and the one that reminded me most frequently of Nightside. Someone is killing the Gods on the Street of Gods, and Hawk & Fisher have to help discover why.

All three books had lots of action, although the last two sometimes bordered on ridiculous amounts of action. As in, how on earth are these people stills standing after so many different battles, amounts of action. But still, as long as you are willing to suspend disbelief, then the books were a lot of fun.

I also think that they would have read differently had I not read the Nightside books first--I wouldn't have spent so much time being reminded of the Nightside, and might not have gotten pulled out of the last two stories as frequently.

But I really did like the characters of Hawk & Fisher. They're jaded and far from perfect, but they're honest to a fault. Which is something you don't always find in police mysteries. Typically the cops are willing to deal with the bad guys. But not so much here. I also enjoyed Fisher being the brawn of the two. Nice twist on the expected fantasy setting, without being noticeably so. (As way of explanation, I can only say that there are some fantasy books feature female swordsmen that go out of their way to make a big deal about the female character being a swordsmen. These books don't, and I really liked that.)

If you haven't read anything by Simon R. Green, I'd recommend the Nightside books as a starting place. I find them a little better written, and a little more cohesive--the tone he uses works, for me, a little better in a modern setting than in a fantasy setting. This isn't to say that I don't recommend these books. Just that I recommend starting with Something from the Nightside, and when you've read all those then come back and read these.

Rating: 6/10


Something from the Nightside (2003)

After The Great Book of Amber, I decided that the requirement for my next book to read, was going to be small and slight. As a 203 page paperback, this fit the bill perfectly.

Something from the Nightside is fantasy written as hard boiled mystery. John Taylor is from the Nightside, but trying to eek out a living in the Real World. Until a woman (it's always a woman) shows up in his office asking him to find her daughter, who appears to have disappeared into the Nightside.

The book was Spenser meets Thieves' World (although John Taylor speaks fondly of Dashiell Hammet) and I have a fondness for both. The Nightside is nasty and and evil, and John is witty and possibly one of the good guys, although possibly not. Interestingly, Simon R. Green keeps describing him as someone who walks the line between good and evil, but really, he comes down squarely on the side of good, without much waffling. The Nightside, however, really does come across as evil. Which must be why I liked it.

The writing was good, the dialogue was snappy, and the story was very interesting. The cover was also almost perfect. Looking at it after finishing the story, they seemed to have captured the character and the place just as they were described. Kudos to Ace for getting the cover just right.

I also noticed random references to other fantasy and mystery charaters and stories, which greatly amused me. It also makes me wonder how many references I missed, for as much as I read, there is so much more that I have yet to read.

However, I did have one major issue with the story. John Taylor keeps talking about how he's out of practice, and that using magic is putting a huge strain on him, yet except for a quick stop, he doesn't bother to rest.

Maybe I'm missing something, but if you keep talking about how what you are doing is straining your body, and how you need to rest, then maybe you should do just that? Perhaps I missed something about their brief rest stop, but that bugged me.

Aside from that, I thoroughly enjoyed the story and am looking forward to the next book in the series.

Published by Ace

Rating: 7/10

Audio Version (2003/2008) narrated by Marc Vietor

Rating: 8/10

Relisten: August 2018 | Rating: 8.5/10

Agents of Light and Darkness (2003)

In the second Nightside book, John Taylor, back working in the Nightside, but still living in the Real World, is hired to find the Unholy Grail, so that it can be returned to the Vatican.

I really liked this book. We learn a little more about John Taylor and some of the other characters who inhabit the Nightside, and John Taylor learns a few more tidbits about his mother, but the information serves only to increase the mystery.

John Taylor's character was a little stronger in this book, although I am still trying to figure out the limits to his power, and what he can and cannot do. There also did not seem to be any physical repercussions to using his power in this book as there were in the first book, presumably because he is again used to using his powers and working in the Nightside.

Also, he seemed to have come into his own, and has a more distinct voice, instead of sounding like Spenser or some other private detective. Although his own voice is slightly different from the previous book, I like this voice a tad bit better I think.

But the best part thing about this book was the story. I really like the story, where it went, and where it ended up. I also found the idea of an Unholy Grail fascinating.

Shotgun Suzie is the antitheses of very love interest in every action story ever. She's the burly one without any class or couth and she doesn't give a shit what you think. In this story we discover why she's so hard and dark and scarred, but sharing that with John doesn't change her. She remains hard and dark and untouchable.

Suzie Shooter was lying sprawled across a scuffed and faded green leather couch, a bottle of gin in one hand, a cigarette in one corner of her downturned mouth.  … 

As always when she wasn't working, Suzie had let herself go. She was wearing a grubby Cleopatra Jones T-shirt, and a pair of jeans that had been laundered almost to the point of no return. No shoes, no make-up. From the look of her, it had been some time since her last gig. She was overweight, her belly bulging out over her jeans, her long blonde hair was a mess, and she smelled bad. Without taking her eyes off the mayhem on the screen, she took a long pull from her gin bottle, not bothering to take the cigarette out of her mouth first, then offered me the bottle.  … 

When she came back, she looked like Shotgun Suzie again. The grubby T-shirt and faded jeans were gone, replaced by gleaming black leather jacket, trousers and knee-high boots, generously adorned with steel chains and studs. She wore two bandoliers of bullets across her impressive chest, and the hilt of her favourite pump-action shotgun peered over her right shoulder from its holster on her back. A dozen assorted grenades hung from her belt. She'd even brushed her hair and slapped on some make-up.

She looked sharp and deadly and very alive.

"You religious, Taylor?"

I shrugged. "Hard not to be, in the Nightside. If only because there are no atheists in foxholes. I'm pretty sure there is a God, a Creator. I just don't think he cares about us. I don't think we matter to him. You?"

"I used to tell people I was a lapsed agnostic," she said easily. "Now I tell them I'm a born-again heretic.

I still don't understand when anyone sleeps in the Nightside, and I thought that the scene with Cathy Barrett was a bit forced, as if he felt he had to stick her in there, because people were wondering what had happened to her, but didn't really know what to do with her. However, aside from that this was an excellent sequel to Something from the Nightside and I can't wait to read the next book.

Published by Ace

Rating: 8/10

Audio Edition (2003/2008) narrated by Marc Vietor

Rating: 8/10

Nightingale's Lament (2004)

In the third Nightside book, John Taylor is hired by a man to find out what has happened to his daughter. She has become a popular singer in Nightside, and he's worried because he has lost contact with her, so following another job gone bad, John takes the case to find out what is happening to Rossignol.

Again, Walker is on the edges of the story, ending up causing more difficulties for John even if that isn't his main goal. Although we briefly see Cathy Barrett, she plays only a minor role as John's secretary, and instead of Suzie Shooter, on this case John gets help from Dead Boy.

What I like about these stories, is that we can see how John solves his cases, and we can also see how things get blown out of proportion by the time tales of those cases hit the streets. Nothing seems too out of the ordinary, until you put it all together, at which point his deeds do seem pretty amazing.

For once John actually has to recuperate from the amount of abuse he takes, although regarding the Somnambulists, one wonders at his performance the second time he deals with them, in comparison with the first. So I am still unsure as to the limit's of what John can do, although I suppose that John is not supposed to know the full limits of his powers, so perhaps it's not too unreasonable.

This story was good, but I didn't like it quite as well as I liked Agents of Light and Darkness. John Taylor is still a much better character than he claims to be, which may be a better explanation as to why some people dislike him, rather than the fact that he is sometimes a jerk. No offense, but he just doesn't strike me as a jerk. At least he hasn't yet. He's willing to make hard choices, yes, but that doesn't make you a bad person, and it doesn't make you a jerk.

So another good book, and again, I can't wait to read the next one.

Published by Ace

Rating: 7/10

Audio Edition (2004/2008) narrated by Marc Vietor

Rating: 8/10

Hex and the City (2005)

BAH! That was just completely uncalled for! Here I am, enjoying this series, which in many ways reads more like a mystery series than a fantasy series, when WHAM! No longer will the story be wrapped up in a single book. Oh no, now we must have a story that does not conclude in a single book, but carries over into the next book.

And to add insult to injury, book six doesn't come out until February, and the copy available doesn't say "The Conclusion to the Nightside Story" so I don't think that book six is going to finish things either.

The only good thing in all of this is that Simon Green seems to write these books quickly, at the rate of around two a year.

But still. I hate waiting.

However, aside from the non-ending story, like the rest of the series I enjoyed Hex and the City. Good characters, good plot, good storytelling. Oh, and a great cover. Again they got it about perfect, which is always a pleasant surprise.

Like the previous book, Nightingale's Lament, the story starts with a small case that John Taylor is dealing with, and like the previous book, things do not go as he expects. He is then hired by Lady Luck to investigate the origins of Nightside, and case that has interested John Taylor for quite awhile.

Again, John Taylor gets assistance from characters we have not met before. Although he talks about Suzie Shooter, and we again see Alex and Strangefellows, and of course Walker is important in this book, but working with John Taylor we have three new people, all of whom are very interesting. I liked Dead Boy, but I like Sinner, Pretty Poison, and Madman just as well (Though perhaps not Pretty Poison's name so much).

The story was good, even if I did figure things out on my second guess but that wasn't frustrating--it was good to be able to go "I KNEW IT!" (And I won't tell you my first guess, since that will make my second--and correct--guess pretty obvious.)

I have to admit that I also realized something partway through this book. If the Nightside books were a movie, I would REALLY not want to watch them. But for some reason the way Simon Green describes the horrors of Nightside doesn't bother me, and I don't know why. It should. And if someone put these things in a movie, they'd give me screaming nightmares, but here, I'm fine with it.

Well, almost okay. One scene of destruction took place in a library, and I kept thinking, "all that blood is going to be really bad for the books. Hopefully they'll have some magic way to keep it from ruining them."

So, despite the unexpected cliffhanger ending, I enjoyed and liked Hex and the City. I am still enjoying reading about John Taylor's exploits, although I am unsure about the next book and whether the change from collections of exploits to unresolved continuing mystery will change the tone of the books. I may wait a bit before reading the next book. Especially knowing that I'll have to wait until February to read the next installment.

Hex and City is a good book, and I recommend it, unless you don't like unresolved stories, in which case you should stop at Nightingale's Lament. At least until a few more books are published.

Published by Ace

Rating: 8/10

Audio Edition (2005/2008) narrated by Marc Vietor

Rating: 8/10

Paths Not Taken (2005)

Okay. Wow. This book certainly took a different turn. And I'm not sure how much I care for the change. In this book John Taylor is, for lack of a better word, a complete asshole. I was going to say jerk, but that's just not a strong enough word. He is simply not a nice person, no matter how much he tries to justify his actions.

And I'm not sure how I feel about that.

John has decided that he must go back in time to discover how his mother founded the Nightside, to search for a way to stop her, because if he does not, all of the Nightside--and perhaps the world--will be destroyed. With him, he takes Suzie Shooter, who helped John Taylor on previous books, and Tommy Oblivion, Nightside's other Private Investigator.

Unlike the other books in the series, this one is almost straight fantasy. Although he spends a couple of chapters in a small mystery, it's hardly up to the standards of the first few books, which I found a disappointment, as I really liked the mysteries.

Additionally, as I said at the start, John Taylor is not a nice person. We learn that he is actually the one behind some of the tragedies of Nightside, and there is a good reason that many people in Nightside dislike him so much. To be honest, I am not sure if I like him anymore. I suppose only the second book will tell.

The arc of the story also struck me as rather strange. The start of the story seemed unusually light, with a good deal of light hearted humor, while the second half of the story is extremely grim. It's as if the first half was an attempt to make up for how harsh the remainder of the book was going to be. But the lighthearted bits were very good, and very well done. For instance:

Next door to the brothel was a dark and spooky little shop selling reliquaries--the bones of saints, fragments of the True Cross, and the like. Special offer that week was apparently the skull of John the Baptist. Next to it was a smaller skull, labelled JOHN THE BAPTIST AS A CHILD.

If you've been reading along, then this story is a must read. If you're interested in starting the series, this is not the place to start.

Published by Ace

Rating: 6/10

Audio Edition (2005/2008) narrated by Marc Vietor

Rating: 7/10

Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth (2006)

To be honest, I was less than pleased with the last Nightside book, Paths Not Taken. The story was good, but I had a hard time accepting that John Taylor was really as cold-blooded as he came off. Luckily, Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth returns to the John Taylor of the earlier Nightside books. Still no one you want to mess with, but not a totally cold-blooded bastard.

At the end of the last book, things had pretty much come to a head. John Taylor's mother, Lilith, was back to remake Nightside in her image, and didn't care who she had to destroy in the process. Now John has to over come the converging futures that say that he will destroy Nightside--and possible the world in the process.

With the exception of the 5th book, which just rubbed me the wrong way, the Nightside books keep getting better and better. John's voice is now entirely his own (in the first book he sounded to me very much like Robert B. Parker's Spenser) and the other characters have also developed their own, strong personalities.

And they're still funny.

"You here to cause trouble?" (the enforcer) said, in a voice so deep he must have had a third testicle tucked away in there somewhere.

"Almost certainly," I said.

"Right, lads! said the enforcer, glancing back over his shoulder to address the rest of the street. "Pick up your feet, we are out of here. This is Dead Boy and John bloody Taylor, and we are not being paid nearly enough to take on the likes of them. Everybody round to Greasy Joan's cafe, where we will wait out whatever appalling things are about to happen."

There are so many things I like about these books: the stories, the characters, the fast pace, and the fact that they seem to come out every three months. (Which made up for the fact that the last major story arc took three books to complete.) And the story arc does finish with this book. So one way or the other, things are settled between John Taylor and Lilith.

Although there are lots of gruesome details in this book, I have to say that they were written in a way that doesn't bother me, the person who constantly hides her face at movies. I'm not sure whether it's Simon Green's writing in particular, or the difference between seeing versus reading something horrific. I can tell you, though, that if they made any Nightside movies, I'd definitely NOT watch them.

If you've been reading the Nightside books, this is one you definitely don't want to miss. If you have not yet read a Nightside book, I highly recommend starting with Something from the Nightside and reading through. These are short books, and they're a lot of fun to read. Despite all the awful things that happen.

For what it's worth, I also love the covers of these books. They're general enough that they don't give anything away, yet they still manage to portray the general feeling of the book.

And once you're finished Sharper than a Serpent's Tooth, then you can go here, and read the news from August 2005. (This link does not contain spoilers, per se, but information within will give you a good idea of how this story will resolve.)

Published by Ace

Rating: 9/10

Audio Edition (2006/2008) narrated by Marc Vietor

Rating: 9/10

Hell To Pay (2006)

I am quite fond of Simon R. Green's Nightside books, although the Nightside itself would probably be offended by the use of the word fond. John Taylor is a private investigator in the Nightside, an alternate city within London where it is always night, and anything you can imagine–and many things you don't want to imagine–exist.

Nightside is rebuilding after the events of the previous book, Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth. However, not only does the physical place need rebuilt, the entire power structure of the Nightside was destroyed, and although Walker is still in charge, no one is suer how.

The power struggles within the Nightside, however, are only the backdrop for the story. John Taylor has been hired to find the granddaughter of the Griffin, an immortal who would like control of Nightside to eventually come to him. Griffin's granddaughter has disappeared, and he wants John Taylor to find her--no matter the cost.

The first thing I have to recommend about Hell to Pay is that Simon R. Green has returned to completing a story arc within a book. There are still loose ends and threads--such as the power structure of the Nightside--but the main story arc--the disappearance of Melissa Griffin--is completed. This is one of the reasons I liked the Nightside books in the first place. It's nice to read a fantasy story that is contained within a single book.

I am also continuing to enjoy both the stories. They're not necessarily complicated mysteries (if you ignore the fact that they often occur in multiple dimensions) but they're a lot of fun to read. Although really awful things happen and are described (or even more often left to the imagination) the Nightside is a fascinating place to visit--from a distance.

I used my special gift to find the channel control signal and used it to tune every single television screen to the same appalling show. I'd found it accidentally one night while channel hopping (never a good idea in the Nightside, where we get not only the whole world's output, but also transmissions from other worlds and other dimensions), and I actually had to go and hide behind the sofa till it was over. The John Waters Celebrity Perversion Hour is the single most upsetting pornography ever produced, and now it was blasting out of dozens of screens simultaneously.

There was one thing that particularly bothered me. In chapter three, one character is described in a manner that gave me a distinct and specific impression. However, when we come to that character again several chapters later, she seemed a completely different person that was described earlier. In fact, I had to go back and check to make sure it was the same person.

Aside from that one slip, I thoroughly enjoyed Hell to Pay. Sure, I had a good idea as to the culprit. And sure, sometimes it seems like John Taylor is trying just a little to hard. But the series is fun, and that's why I like it. I like reading about all the horrible things in Nightside. I liked seeing John Taylor get himself into and out of situations. And I like the horrible people in Nightside.

I'm also fond of the covers of the Nightside books. They're simple and appealing, and they all look like Nightside books.

If you have not read any Nightside books, and you like supernatural fantasy, then I highly recommend the Nightside series. Although you could start with Hell to Pay, you'll be better off if you start at the beginning of the series, Something from the Nightside and work your way through. It's interesting to watch John evolve, and starting here would give away some of the secrets of earlier books. If you're already a fan of the Nightside, then this is another solid addition to the series.

Published by Ace

Rating: 7/10

Unnatural Inquirer (2007)

We return once again to Nightside, where John Taylor is once again on the case. On several cases actually.

As he finishes a case at the HP Lovecraft Memorial Library, he's asked by Walker, who has the Voice of Authority in Nightside, to retrieve the Aquarius key before Max Maxwell gains more complete control over the Loa.

From there, he's asked to find Pen Donovan, and a DVD he claims shows a broadcast from the afterlife. Only things get far more complicated than expected, as a half demon succubus joins him in his search for Pen Donovan, and keeps asking him what he sees in Suzie Shotgun.

First, like most other Nightside books, we get to see Taylor work more than one case. I like that we see how some things are easy for him, while others… less so. Second, we get to revisit some of the denizens of Nightside, although others remain absent. After all, what would be a Nightside book without a visit to Strangefellows and Alex Morrisey?

Although this is by no means my favorite book in the series, The Unnatural Inquirer is a solid addition. I still like spending time in the Nightside, and eagerly await then next book in paperback.

Published by Ace

Rating: 7/10

Just Another Judgment Day (2009)

It's been awhile since I read a Nightside book, since they switched to publishing in hardback first. But after lots of anticipation, Just Another Judgment Day arrived.

John Taylor is still a bit at loose ends after the Lilith War. He is no longer being hunted by his enemies, and although he doesn't want to be, he remains a power in Nightside–a power to be respected as well as feared is something he still has not come to terms with. He and Suzie Shooter are living together, but her past is still haunting her, and their relationship remains in limbo.

To add to the mix, a new group of Authorities are attempting to fill the power vacuum, and Walker wants John to support them.

As with most of the books, the story opens with John taking on a case–a member of Nightside's high society wants to know why his friends and acquaintances are looking younger, but the clinic that serves them won't even give him the time of day.

This book does what I like best about the Nightside series: John Taylor is hired to solve mysteries and solve problems, and he does it with attitude.

Walker led us right up to the Adventurerers Club Doorman, who stood tall and broad and very large before the closed club doors. He was supposed to be a were saber-tooth tiger and given the sheer size of him, I was perfectly prepared to believe it. He stood aside for Walker, because everyone does, but gave first Suzie and then me his best cold, assessing look as we passed. Suzie glared right back at him, and he actually blushed a little and looked away.

"He likes you," I solemnly told Suzie.

"Shut up," said Suzie.

"He likes you. He's your special Doorman friend."

"I have a gun."

"Never knew you when you didn't."

If you have not read a Nightside book, you should be able to start here and pick up what is going on. Of course, I always believe you should go back to the beginning and read forward, but you could read Just Another Judgment Day without having read any previous books.

Published by Ace

Rating: 8/10

The Good, the Bad, and the Uncanny (2010)

John bloody Taylor is still in Nightside, just as appalling as ever.

The Authorities are gone, replaced by the new Authorities; not necessarily kinder and gentler, but almost certainly less evil than the group they replaced.

And Walker is dying. The man who was an uncle to John Taylor, as well as his nemesis many times, wants John Taylor to take over his position. John has no interest in replacing Walker, but Walker isn't one to take no for an answer.

Additionally, John has cases of his own. The first involves an elf ("never trust an elf") and the second involves a promise John made during the Lilith War–a promise he didn't keep.

But as always, it's the writing and the dialog that I love best.

"But…he's an elf! When did you last hear of one of them lower himself to ask a mere human for help?"

"Never," I said. "Which would suggest that not only is this case going to be impossible, unethical, and quite mind-bogglingly dangerous, but I'll probably end up stabbed in the back by my own client."

"Well, of course," said Cathy. "I thought that was all understood when I said, Your client is an elf."

The other thing I like is that although this is a continuation of events from earlier books, and despite the ending that was so obviously an opening for the next book, the story arc is complete within the book.

I would not, however, recommend starting here if you are not already familiar with the Nightside series. There are several incidents that really only have their full impact if you've been following along from the beginning, and know the relationships between John Taylor and the other inhabitants of the Nightside.

Published by Ace

Rating: 8/10

A Hard Day's Knight (2011)

Walker is dead. Long live Walker.

Because now John Taylor is Walker, and now it is his job to keep order (of a sorts) in Nightside.

Unfortunately for him, someone has decided it's time for Excalibur to make a reappearance in the world–and he needs to be the one to wield it.

Interestingly enough, they're right. John Taylor already turned down power when it was offered, doesn't want the power of being Walker, but like the power of being Walker, he can't think of anyone else who would be up to the responsibility.

This was a good story, but I can't say it was as good as previous stories. The dialog was perfect as always:

Julien suddenly recognized the gold pocket-watch I was still holding in my hand. "How did you get that?"

"Walker left it to me in his will."

"We haven't even found his will yet!"

I shrugged. "Details, details…"

Julien sighed. "And you wonder why nobody trusts you…"

"No, I don't. I don't give a damn."

But I really have to wonder where else Simon Green can take John Taylor. After all, he's now Walker.

Published by Ace

Rating: 7/10

The Bride Wore Black Leather (2012)


Tales from the Nightside (2015)

Tales-from-the-NightsideThe Nightside. "Where all your dreams can come true, especially the really bad ones."

This is a collection of Nightside stories, many of which I have read before, and a previously unpublished novella.

If you're a Nightside fan, then you'll want this. If you're not sure if the Nightside is for you, read the first few stories and you'll probably know if you'll like it or not.

Here's what you get, with original publication year.

"The Nightside, Needless to Say" is the first Nightside story, and it introduces us to the Nightside through Larry Oblivion. This was my introduction to the Nightside, and why I started reading the series.

We found the big man sitting behind a desk in a surprisingly modest inner office. He was playing solitaire with tarot cards, and cheating.

Yes, Larry Oblivion is dead, but he's not quite a zombie. And being a good detective, he is going to find out who killed him, and why.

"Razor Eddie's Big Night Out" is one I hadn't actually read before. Razor Eddie may actually be my least favorite Nightside character, so I was kinda glad this was a shorter story.

Didn't mean I didn't enjoy parts.

We passed by the Egyptian cat goddess Bast, now reduced to singing "Memory" out on the Street, for the tourists.

"Lucy, at Christmastime" is another story I hadn't previously read, and is actually somewhat different from the usual Nightside stories.

"Appetite for Murder" is another story I'd previously read, but still very much enjoyed re-reading. Sam Warren was the first Detective in Nightside, working for the Authorities, and getting called into cases that are more than the obvious. We also spend time with Ms Fate, who gets name-checked in other stories, but this is her only really big appearance.

"The Difference a Day Makes" is the first John Taylor story, and we also get to spend time with Dead Boy, who I quite like.

"Right!" said Dead Boy, brightening immediately. He kicked the door wide open and stalked forward into the impenetrable darkness beyond. His voice drifted back to us: "Come on! Give me your best shot, you bastards! I can take it!"

Liza looked at me. "Is he always like this?"

"Pretty much," I said. "This is why most people won't work with him. Personally, I've always found him very useful for hiding behind when the bullets start flying."

"Some of These Cons Go Way Back" is a story about Harry Fabulous, and this story is almost a little too dark for me. But it's still good.

"The Spirit of the Thing" is another John Taylor story, where he helps a ghost.

"Hungry Heart" is another John Taylor story where we learn that clients always get what they ask for–and often that's precisely what they deserve.

I sighed. It was hard to stay mad at her. Though probably worth the effort.

"How Do You Feel?" is a pure Dead Boy story, and one of my favorites. Dead Boy gets to discover who ordered him killed, and perhaps even why.

"I helped make you who you are!" he said desperately. "I helped make you Dead Boy!"

"Let me see," I said. "How do I feel about that?" I closed my hand abruptly, and all the bones in his shoulder shattered.

We also finally learn about Dead Boy's car.

Who is awesome.

"The Big Game" is the new novella. It pretty much brings all John Taylor's friends together for a finally smash-bang story.

There are lots of hints dropped about events in previous books…"human. My mother turned out to be a Biblical Myth; from that part of the Old Testament where God gets really angry," so you probably don't want to read this unless you've enjoyed the earlier books.

This story seems to pull in all the bits that it seems like Simon Green wanted to use previously but never got around to. So there is plenty to giggle at here.

The End of the World Club, for those convinced the world really is coming to an end, anytime now, and are determined to do something practical about it. I subscribe to their monthly newsletter. Just in case.

Though nothing beats my favorite line from Paths Not Taken:

Next door to the brothel was a dark and spooky little shop selling reliquaries–the bones of saints, fragments of the True Cross, and the like. Special offer that week was apparently the skull of John the Baptist. Next to it was a smaller skull, labelled JOHN THE BAPTIST AS A CHILD.

If you're already a fan of the Nightside, then you've probably already read this, unless you didn't know about it, in which case, you should run RIGHT NOW and get it. If you haven't read the Nightside, the first half should be a good introduction to whether you'll like it or not, but save the second half until you've read at least most of the John Taylor books.

Published by Ace

Rating: 9.5/10

Ghost Finders

Ghost of a Chance (2010)

Ghost of a ChanceI can't help myself. I know it isn't good for me, but I have this addiction to Simon R. Green's Nightside.

I've read the Eddie Drood novels, and they're OK, but they just aren't the same. But I keep ordering them, and when I saw he had a new series, I preordered it without blinking.

The Carnacki Institute is a super secret organization housed in Buckingham Palace that takes care of ghosts and other hauntings. JC, Melody, and Happy aren't the best operatives the Institute has, but they're good, and they're willing to take on the things that go bump in the night. Of course, working for a secret agency, doing work that is a threat to body and mind isn't necessarily a career from which you retire, and when you save the world, you don't get to tell anyone. (Conversely, if you die in the line of fire, no one knows about that either.)

JC, Happy, and Melody aren't John Bloody Taylor, and the London in which they work isn't Nightside, but there are plenty of scary creatures out there, and each member of the trio has different skills they can bring to bear against the monsters.

There are monsters. The monsters do horrific things. And there is snark. Lots of snark. All three of which combine to make the perfect Simon Green novel.

No, it's not Nightside, but it's fun and enjoyable, and an enjoyable read while waiting for the next Nightside book.

Published by Ace

Rating: 8/10

Ghost of a Smile (2011)

Ghost of a SmileAs much as I enjoy Simon R. Green's writing, and as much is it frequently makes me laugh, I found Ghost of a Smile to be disappointing.

There is still plenty of dialogue to make me happy:

"That's it?" said JC, after Happy had been quite for awhile. "I don't know why I keep you around. Could you be any more vague? There are psychic pets on television on are more specific than you!"


"You have no idea how close to the wire that came," said Happy. "It feels like my brains are leaking out my ears."

"What makes you think you have any?" said Melody.

Happy glared at her. "Everyone's got ears! I think I'd like to go home and lie down now, please!"

Yet despite the exchanges I love, the story mostly went on too long, with long sections that felt like filler rather than anything at all integral to the story. In fact, several chapters felt like they could have been summarized by, "they climb to another floor, where they discover more horrible and disgusting things, which they manage to overcome, and then they climb to the next floor."

And then there was the end, which managed to have multiple cliff-hangers and newly introduced plot points.


So, sadly, I think I may stick to the Nightside books, and leave the Ghost Finders and Secret Histories alone.

Published by Ace

Rating: 5/10

Eddie Drood

The Man with the Golden Torc (2007)

 Eddie Drood is a field agent for a family that knows more secrets than anyone else, and has magical and mechanical powers that would make mages and mad scientists drool in envy. Unfortunately for Eddie (known on te streets as Shamus Bond) there's trouble in the family, and that means trouble for Eddie.

Although this is not a Nightside book, I could tell quickly it was a Simon Green book. It had his quirky combination of blood, mayhem, and humor, and his telltale use of the word appalling with appalling frequency. From the title to Eddie's use name, you could tell it was supposed to be a takeoff on James Bond. Except that the only exposure I have to James Bond is Ian Flemming's books, and I'm not sure that Eddie Drood reminded me of Flemming's Bond.

Neither of things are bad, they just are the way they are. I enjoy Simon Green's writing, and although I do think he tends to overuse the word appalling, it mostly just serves to let me know I'm reading a Simon Green book.

As far as the James Bond comparison… In some ways Eddie does resemble Flemming's Bond, in that he relies upon his had earned skills, though I didn't find him quite as cunning as James Bond. But Eddie also has amazing magic and science, which he needs because his enemies can be just as strong as he is.

The story and characters are very much Simon Green. They're sarcastic and pessimistic, except under the pessimism you're sure there's a shiny optimist just waiting to get out. Although the book is not set in Nightside, the world beneath the world we inhabit contains monsters aplenty.

If you like Simon Green's Nightside books, they you'll probably want to check out The Man with the Golden Torc if you haven't already (I waited the year for the book to come out in paperback.)

Rating: 7/10

Daemons Are Forever (2008)

Daemons Are ForeverThat was thoroughly disappointing.

I really like Simon R. Green's writing style–I love the Nightside books and liked the first Eddie Drood book, The Man with the Golden Torc. The second Eddie Drood book, however, not so much.

This book was all over the place, and it wasn't particularly clear why it jumped from one place to another the way it did. Additionally, he brought it characters and concepts from other series, that I suppose were supposed to be enjoyable if you'd read the Deathstalker series, but I hadn't, and the whole thing just felt forced.

Even more frustrating, for probably the first half of the book Eddie was being an annoying ass. I just wanted to smack him for being so stupid. And when he ended up proven right (of a sorts) it was almost unbearable, because he didn't really deserve the happy ending, or for things to work out as well as they did.

You saw the fall coming from a mile away, saw his hubris yet he walked right into and acted all shocked and surprised when it happened.

Yes, there was sharp snappy dialog. Yes, there were lots of amusing references to other science fiction and fantasy characters and series. But the whole thing just felt forced. It was like he'd gotten an idea for a story, wandered off in the middle, and then took a giant leap when he realized how far off course he'd wandered.

Essentially, the characters felt off, the story meandered back and forth for seemingly no reason, and some of the plot just felt ridiculous. I ended up skimming the second half of the book, just so I could find out what happened and then move onto another book.

This book won't put me off Simon Green's writing, but I also don't think I'll be in any hurry to read the third book in the Eddie Drood series, which is already out in hard back. I also really hope this was an aberration, and not a sign of how his books to come are going to go.

Rating: 4/10

Ishmael Jones

The Dark Side of The Road (2015)

The Dark Side of The RoadI have an off-and-on relationship with Simon Green's stories. Some I love very much (Nightside) while others, I just can't get into (The Secret Histories). But finding it on sale, I decided to give this new book a try.

Ishmael Jones lives under the radar, working for secret agencies, doing things that others can't.

My reflection met my gaze with a cold, mistrustful stare. A very familiar face because it hadn't changed in so very long. Not the one I would have chosen; but good enough. I was tall, slim, dark-haired and handsome enough if you weren't too choosy. A long rangy figure who appeared to be in his mid twenties. Dressed well, but anonymously. The kind of stuff you can buy anywhere, so you can fit in anywhere. An easy smile, a casual look, and dark eyes that gave away absolutely nothing.

Right before Christmas, in the midst of a terrible storm, he receives a call from his boss and mentor to come to Belcourt Manor, the Colonel's family home.

This book is classic snarky Simon Green.

Don't worry if you can't tell me any of your secrets; just make up some fascinating lies. That's what I always do.'

'It's amazing,' said Jeeves. 'You keep talking and you keep coming up with things, and yet not one of them is ever remotely comforting.'

'It's a gift,' I said.

And as with the Nightside books (and in the classic style of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) the cases and histories that are hinted at are delightful and horrifying.

(T)he Murder Generals; the Dark Lady from Under the Hill; the Queen in Waiting and the Cathedral in Flames; and the High Orbit Ghosts. They all threatened the world, in their time, until the Colonel and I put them down.

I do love how what he hints at is far more horrifying that what he could describe.

Is this book for everyone? Probably not, as I think that Simon Green may be a specific taste, but if you enjoyed Nightside, or like The Rivers of London, then you should enjoy this latest Simon Green offering.

Published by Severn House Digital

Rating: 8/10

Dead Man Walking (2016)

I tend to either love Simon R Green's series, or … not.

This is a series I like I think.

Ishmael Jones works for a super secret agency that takes care of beings and events that would disturb the unknowing public.

A suitably anonymous vehicle slammed to a halt before us. Not new enough to hold the eye or old enough to attract attention, it had probably started out a fierce crimson. But age and a complete lack of attention had reduced it to a two-tone mix of red and rust. I couldn't even guess at the make; which was probably just as well, as the maker would only have been embarrassed to acknowledge it.

When one of the agents who left and went to work for the other side wants to come back, they need to verify that he is who he is. So in addition to the interrogators, they send Ishmael who brings along Penny, who he has taken up with after the events of the previous book.

There were half a dozen photographs, of six entirely different faces. I felt like wincing. After so many plastic surgeries, it would be a wonder if Parker had any working facial nerves left. If he wanted to raise an eyebrow, he probably had to give himself plenty of warning or use a wire.  …  Looking closely, I could see scars concealed in his face and neck, along with surgical implants designed to change the shape and structure of his skull. Whoever he was, he really didn't want to be recognized.

Penny is aware of his origins, even if no one else is.

Penny … If at any time I turn to you and say "Run!", don't stop to ask why. Just try to keep up with me.'

Mystery-wise, I had figured this one out pretty quickly, but that didn't spoil the book for me. Mostly because I really like Ishmael.

'What did I just say about sticking together?' I said loudly. 'Splitting up is always going to be a bad idea.'

This won't be everyone's cup of tea, but I'm enjoying this series.

Publisher: Severn House Digital

Rating: 7.5/10

Very Important Corpses (2017)

This is the third Ishmael Jones mystery.

The Organization is sending Ishmael and Penny to Scotland (to that very famous Loch in fact) to provide security for a gathering where one agent has already been murdered, and it's probable the House has been infiltrated by one or more spies.

(T)hey were all ages and races; and they had the air of aristocrats at Court, or even Knights of the Round Table. But that was only in their minds. My first thought was that they all looked like accountants.

If there is a theme to this series so far, it's summed up in this passage:

'You really believe in this creature?' I said.

'Monsters are real,' said the Major Domo.

'Yes,' I said. 'They are. But people kill a lot more people than monsters ever do.'

Like other Simon R. Green books, everything is over the top. Which is fine, because that's precisely what I expect.

Where I was a little disappointed was that Ishmael felt far more John Taylor here than I thought he did in the previous books. That's nothing wrong with John Taylor, but I really like the idea of an alien pretending to be a human, so it was a little disappointing to feel Ishmael channeling John Taylor.

The mystery also felt a little weaker here–I was pretty sure of at least one of the characters who was involved, and it felt like there were more questions raised than resolved. Not cliff-hangers mind you, just things left hanging.

I have the next book, so I'll read it eventually, but I'll take a pause for now, because as much as I enjoy Simon R Green's stories, they do sometimes get a little repetitive when read one after another. (Not that stories, but the dialog.)

Publisher: Severn House Digital

Rating: 7/10


Powers of Detection (2004) edited by Dana Stabenow 

I like fantasies. I like mysteries. So… "Stories of Mystery and Fantasy" sounds like a good thing. Plus Charlaine Harris has a Sookie Stackhouse short story, and that had to be a good thing.

Well, it was an okay thing.

I also liked Simon R. Green's "The Nightside Needless to Say," which was a quick read, and in the hard-boiled vein, which I enjoy when done well. John Straley's "Lovely" was interesting as well, seeing as how it was written from the point of view of a crow.

The other stories were for the most part okay. I didn't like "The Death of Clickclickwhistle" too much, but it was science fiction rather than fantasy, and that was the part I didn't care for, rather than the mystery.

Publisher: Ace

Rating: 5/10

Unusual Suspects (2008) edited by Dana Stabenow

I own and read Dana Stabenow's first fantasy/mystery anthology, Powers of Detection and found it a mixed bag. But when I saw Unusual Suspects and saw it had stories from Sharon Shinn & Simon R. Green, I knew I would have to have this anthology.

In general, I enjoyed it more than the first anthology.

Another favorite story was Simon R. Green's "Appetite for Murder." Even though I saw some of the clues, I ended up wasting brain power trying to remember bits and pieces about Ms. Fate and Tommy and Larry Oblivion, and so was surprised at the end, even thought the pieces were there all along. And shockingly for a Simin R Green story–no one seemed to describe anything as appalling.

If you're a fan of fantasy mysteries, this anthology is a good introduction to some authors I particularly like, and although it had some weak spots, was better than its predecessor.

Publisher: Ace

Rating: 7/10

Wolfsbane and Mistletoe (2008) edited by Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner

Publisher: Ace

Mean Streets (2009)

The second story was Simon R. Green's "The Difference a Day Makes," which starred the ever appalling John Taylor.

A woman wanders into Strangefellows looking for John Taylor. She's lost in Nightside, with no memory of how she got there, what she's doing there, and what she had done for the past 24 hours.

As this is Nightside, the answer is of course "nothing good."

This time John is assisted by Dead Boy, and Dead Boy's wonderful car of the future. After all this time, it's hard to believe that Dead Boy is still held together. It's got to be more than staples, tape, and wood putty holding him together at this point.

What continues to astound me about Nightside is that after all this time and all these books, he can still come up with things that make me squirm. John keeps telling Liza how terrible things are going to get, and as a reader I'm all, "Yeah, we've heard that before. What could be worse than the Lamentations?" Well, worse not necessarily. But he still comes up with some really horrific things.

I'm very glad I don't live in his imagination.

Rating: 9/10

The Best Paranormal Crime Stories Ever Told (2010) edited by Martin H. Greenberg & John Helfers

I wouldn't say the best necessarily, but it's not a bad selection of stories. And the fact that I got to read it for free probably helped.

"Appetite for Murder" is Simon R. Green story that does not feature John Taylor or Eddie Drood, but is set in Nightside. If you have never read a Nightside story, this would actually be a decent introduction to the place. If you enjoyed this story, I'd recommended the Nightside books. If you have read the Nightside series, one twist won't be much of a surprise, but the other… Sam Warren has been a Detective in the Nightside for a long long time. He's worked for the Authorities, and finds killers who manage to step out of line even in a place where murder is cheap and easy and all but expected on every corner.

Published by Skyhorse Publishing

Rating: 8/10

The Way of the Wizard (2010) edited by John Joseph Adams


I love anthologies. They give me an escape in bite size pieces that won't keep me up past my bed time on a work night, and they also often a wonderful introduction to authors I have not read previously.

This anthology focuses upon wizards of all sorts, doing wizardly things, though not very many evil wizards.

"Street Wizard" by Simon R. Green didn't disappoint, even though it's not a John Taylor story. He rarely fails to make me laugh, such as with a passage like this.

I make a stop at the biggest Chinese Christian Church in London, and chat with the invisible Chinese demon that guards the place from trouble-makers and unbelievers. It enjoys the irony of protecting a Church that officially doesn't believe in it. And since it gets to eat anyone who tries to break in, it's quite happy. The Chinese have always been a very practical people.

Published by Prime Books

Rating: 7/10

Down These Strange Streets (2011) edited by Gardner Dozois & George R. R. Martin

If you look at the list of authors , you'll immediately see why I read this series. There are some of my favorite authors here–many of whom write short stories I tend to love. And surprisingly, I loved most of these stories, especially a few by authors I haven't particularly read before.

Simon R Green's story, "Hungry Heart" is–unusually–a John Taylor story. Most of his recent short stories have been set in Nightside but featured other characters. Here, John Taylor is back, on his own. This story isn't concretely set in the Nightside timeline, but John is using his powers openly, so one assumes it's later in the timeline. A woman comes to John asking him to help her find her heart, stolen by her mentor. As with everything in the Nightside, nothing is as it seems.

All in all, I found this to be a fabulous anthology, and I highly recommend almost all the stories I read–even the ones I didn't love were, for the most part, interesting.

Published by Penguin

Rating: 9/10

Home Improvement: Undead Edition (2011) edited by Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner

As with most anthologies, there are stories here I really liked, and some that I found to be just okay. What was unusual was that there were some stories that I actually strongly disliked.

"It's All in the Rendering" by Simon Green isn't set in Nightside, or any of his existing worlds, that I can tell. It's just about a house between the worlds, the couple who manage it, and the horrors of… bureaucracy.

All in all, an okay collection, but I'm not sure why it's been so expensive for so long, and if I could have gotten the Patricia Briggs story solo (I really do enjoy her short stories), I'm not sure I'd necessarily haven bothered with it.

Published by Ace

Rating: 6/10

Those Who Fight Monsters: Tales of Occult Detectives (2011) edited by Justin Gustainis


As the title says, this is a collection of supernatural mysteries.

This was, as sometimes happens, a mix of stories I liked and didn't like, though there wasn't any particular story I thought was terrible. Just stories that were more or less to my personal taste. There were also several stories I had previously read.

"The Spirit of the Thing: A Nightside Story" by Simon R. Green. I'm a huge fan of the Nightside and John Bloody Taylor, and this was a Nightside story I had not read before, so of course I enjoyed it. As with most Nightside stories, you don't need to have read a Nightside book to read one of the short stories.

All an all, an interesting anthology, and would I can easily recommend–especially if it's still only $3.

Published by EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing

Rating: 7/10

Hex Appeal (2012) edited by PN Elrod

As I was expecting, this collection was a mixed bag. Luckily, the good stories were very good, and worth the price of the anthology.

The last author I bought the series for was Simon R Green. I love Nightside, and "How Do You Feel" is a Nightside story.

Dead Boy is wandering around, getting into trouble and trying to feel something (anything really) when Walker tells him him information about the man behind his death, who caused him to become Dead Boy. I really liked learning Dead Boy's story. But then, I love Nightside.

No sex, but we learn about Dead Boy's girl friend finally.

But all in all, it was well worth the price of admission for the stories I did like.

Published by St. Martin's Griffin

Rating: 8/10

Weird Detectives: Recent Investigations (2013) edited by Paula Guran


This is a collection of short stories previously published elsewhere, so I'd already read several of these stories. But there were several I had not, and several of the ones I'd read before were well worth reading again.

"The Nightside, Needless to Say" by Simon R. Green was a story I'd previously read, but enjoyed it just as much the second time around. I particularly love the little side comments that spike Nightside stories (even though this wasn't a John Bloody Taylor story–it's about Larry Oblivion).

We found the big man sitting behind a desk in a surprisingly modest inner office. He was playing solitaire with tarot cards, and cheating.

As I said, this contained a lot of stories I'd read previously, but they are for the most part good stories, so if you don't have the original anthologies, this would be well worth getting.

Published by Prime Books

Rating: 8/10 

Magic City: Recent Spells (2014) edited by Paula Guran

"Street Wizard" by Simon R. Green I've read this story before, but enjoyed it just as much the second time around. The narrator is a street wizard, and walks us through a single night on the streets, walking his beat.

(L)ike everyone else she's got something to complain about; apparently she's not happy that people have stopped flushing baby alligators down their toilets. She misses them.

"Company?" I ask.

"Crunchy," she says.

There are lots of other lovely little bits (especially the demon who guards the Chinese Christian Church).

Published by Prime Books

Rating: 8.5/10

Street Magicks (2016) edited by Paula Guran

Street Magicks

I believe it took me less than a year to finish this anthology. Hopefully this is a new trend for me.

"The Spirit of the Thing: A Nightside Story" by Simon R. Green is a John Taylor story I'd read previously, but still enjoyed.

They didn't know anything. They hadn't seen anything, because they didn't come to a bar like this to take an interest in other people's problems.

An interesting collection, although there were a lot of stories that were not for me.

Published by Prime Books

Rating: 7/10