So a while back, due to a mix-up with an Amazon order for a friend, I ended up with two books by Simon R Green – Something from the Nightside and Nigtingale’s Lament. I put off reading them for a while because I wasn’t sure that they wouldn’t be a little bit too scary for me (I’m happy to admit I’m a wuss), but last week I needed a little paperback to take with me somewhere, and each of these is quite slim. So I grabbed one… and read it in, oh, a day. Then read the other, also in a day.
I’m not sure if there are books in the series before these two; I get the feeling there might be at least one, and I think there’s also one between them. Not that it matters hugely; you get enough back story that you don’t feel like you’re missing out.
I was already a big fan of Green thanks to the Deathstalker series (what’s not to like about Hazel? And Owen? And especially Jack and Ruby??) – although my big complaint about that series is the same one I have with the Nightside books: repetition. In the Deathstalker books, it got so I could anticipate how people would be described, and what people would say (after, say, five books); I’m already there with the Nightside. However, for me anyway, the writing is amusing enough and the story interesting enough that I am prepared to be tolerant of the slightly lazy writing (or is it an attempt at familiarity?).
The main character is John Taylor. He grew up in the Nightside – an area of London not everyone can find, and certainly not everyone wants to find; where not everyone is human, dreams and nightmares come true, and it is always night. He’s been away for a few years, but now he’s back; there’s mystery around his birth; and he’s a private detective because he has a Talent for finding things… anything. Green goes for a bit of a Bladerunner that doesn’t always work, but also has some pretty awesome humour going, with some very nice puns and making metaphors come true. The other characters are entertaining – Suzie Shooter! Razor Eddie! Walker! – and the city itself provides endless scope for madcap adventures.
Is it as scary as I had feared? Hell no. Some gruesome things happen, but they’re passed over very lightly; the humour and the fast pace help too.
Is it quality literature? Hell no.
Is it worth reading? Definitely. If you like witty repartee, clever plot twists and easy-on-the-brain slightly stereotyped characters, in an easily digested format, the Nightside books are a great read. They’re the sort of thing I would happily take on a plane to read, knowing I would be utterly enthralled but that it wouldn’t matter if I got interrupted. There’s definitely a place for that sort of book.
Also? I doubt I’ll get around to read these again, so if you want to give them a go – drop me a line!