Haunting the Nightside (Nightside Omnibus 2) Paperback – 1 Sep 2008
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Nightingale's Lament (2004) is the third novel in this series. In this story, Taylor comes across more as Simon Templar --- AKA the Saint -- than as a tough private eye. First he is persuaded by Walker to work on a case for Prometheus, Inc., generator of twelve percent of the power used within the Nightside.
Company equipment is being sabotaged by an unknown --and undetectable -- person or thing. Prometheus is owned and operated by an old acquaintance, Vincent Kraemar, the Mechanic. Walker wants results and Taylor definitely produces some big results, paying off an old debt in the bargain. However, Walker is not really happy with the way Taylor solves the problem.
After that case, while hanging out in Strangefellows and avoiding Walker, Taylor is approached by a man who believes that his daughter has fallen into bad company. Under the name Rossignol -- Nightingale -- she has been acquiring a reputation of her own. But recently she has changed, breaking off relations with friends and family, never answering phone calls or letters, and spending all her time in the Caliban Club where she sings.
Moreover, her singing has changed; now she sings only sad songs and her listeners are so moved that some have committed suicide shortly after leaving her show. All these changes started when Ross signed a new contract with Mr. and Mrs. Cavendish. The client wants Taylor to check into her situation and help her if such assistance is necessary. Cathy confirms the client's portrayal of Ross' career and Alex tells him more about her career and the Cavendishes.
Taylor visits the Caliban Club and talks to Ian, Ross' roadie. Then he visits Rossignol herself and later catches a show. He can't find any indication of magical influence, but Ross is obviously depressed and distracted. During her performance, moreover, someone commits suicide, splashing blood and brains over her shoes.
Hex and the City (2005) is the fourth novel in this series. In this story, Taylor is hired by the Great Auction Hall to watch over the chaos butterfly. Supposedly, possession of the Butterfly means control of future events. Most of the major players, or their agents, are in the hall for this auction.
Everything goes well until bidding starts on the butterfly. First everybody starts humming or singing the same song and then the wards and protections break and blow apart. Soon psychenauts show up from the Outside and Taylor takes certain corrective actions.
After the auction hall incident, Taylor passes on the details of where to send his check and goes out for a dinner date with his secretary. Cathy has already selected Rick's Cafe Imaginaire, where the food comes from extinct or imaginary animals. They order dragonburgers and salads, with Cheshire Cat ice cream for desert. After the meal, Lady Luck drops by to offer Taylor a job.
Lady Luck wants Taylor to find out the origins of the Nightside. She offers to tell him about his mother in return for his services. Since Taylor wants to know about the origins as much as about his mother, he agrees to take the job. Naturally, Walker tries to dissuade him.
Highly recommended for Green fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of magical tricks, supernatural creatures, and a bit of romance. Read and enjoy!
-Arthur W. Jordin
And the dark supernatural underbelly of London is no less alluring -- and dangerous -- in the second omnibus of Simon R. Green's urban fantasy series, containing the shortish novels "Nightingale's Lament" and "Hex in the City." And it's still full of action, grotesque danger, bizarre creatures and crimes that only an expert "finder" can solve.
In "Nightingale's Lament," John Taylor is approached by Parisian banker Charles Chabron, who asks him to help him with his daughter, a nightclub singer called Rossignol. Not only has the girl withdrawn from everyone except her management, but her sad songs are driving people to suicide. And when John starts investigating Rossignol, he finds that she is always in a depressed, drugged stupor and her managers the Cavendishes keep her isolated.
After one of her fans shoots off his own head during a concert, John joins forces with the zombieesque Dead Boy, and starts prowling around for the last singer that the Cavendishes took under their wings. Turns out that Sylvia Sin has become something inhuman and horrifically desirable -- and the Cavendishes have done something even more terrible to Rossignol. Rescuing the trapped nightingale will stretch John's abilities to the limit... and he may not be able to truly save her.
And things get more personal when John Taylor has "Hex in the City." After a disastrous auction where the chaos butterfly attracts some unwanted bidders, Lady Luck herself -- who exudes luck both bad and good -- hires John for the ultimate "find" mission: discover the origins of the Nightside itself. If he can do that, then she will give him the information he desperately wants, about the missing mother whom he can't even remember.
After consulting a grumpy wishing well, John joins forces with the Madman and Sinner ("Please get him out of here. You don't know what it's like, having him around. The screams and the howls and the rains of blood") to unearth the darkest secrets of the Nightside. But there are a lot of people who don't want John to succeed -- including Walker and the Reasonable Men -- and the secret of his mother's identity may be too terrible...
Transvestite superheroes, Sister Morphine, temporal triplets, the ghost of Merlin Satanspawn, Hell's Neanderthals, teenybopper-goth groupies, a ragged and homeless Herne the Hunter, and a twerpy probability-shifting guy called Count Entropy. Even if Simon R. Green had no writing ability whatsoever, the world he conjures in the Nightside series would be worth the read -- dripping with darkness, eccentricity and utterly twisted fantasy-noir humor.
Admittedly Simon R. Green fills his noir/urban fantasy novels with a little too much tough-guy wisecracking, and it's a bit annoying that John deals with everything by saying, "I'm John Taylor." But Green does a pretty solid job overall -- and while "Nightingale's Lament" is a pretty straightforward noir-soaked fantasy, "Hex and the City" expands the storyline to epic proportions, with revelations that can affect all of the Nightside.
And Green's spare, slightly bizarre prose is suited to the stories. He has a knack for describing things ("the neon signs were flickering on again, like road signs in Hell") and his dialogue is just as fun ("The octopus is off, but we hope to recapture it soon. And don't ask for the chameleon, because we can't find it").
John Taylor is your average noir anti-hero in the Raymond Chandler mold -- a little grizzled, cynical, and always with a snappy remark at the ready. He's backed by a cast of incredibly bizarre characters, including the pragmatic, ghoulish, booze-swigging Dead Boy, the Madman who reshapes reality, the tragic Rossignol, and the amiable Sinner who belongs neither in Heaven nor in Hell (so he just sort of hangs around the mortal realm).
"Haunting the Nightside" brings together one good and one great urban fantasy, both exploring the dark slimy niches of the Nightside. Definitely a good read.