Pulpy-ish, noir-ish, sort of fun-ish
Posted March 9, 2011on:
Something From the Nightside, by Simon R Green
published in 2003
where did I get it: purchased used
why I read it: was craving a skinny book, and it looked fun.
I always enjoy “other world” type stories, Mieville’s Un Lun Dun, Gaiman’s Neverwhere, a lot of Charles deLint novels, where there is another world, just below ours, where strange things happen. Simon R Green’s Something From the Nightside is such a story, albeit a creepier, darker, noir-er (noirer, is that even a word?) one. A little bit Dark City, a little bit Harry Dresden, Simon R. Green’s Something From the Nightside follows John Taylor, child of the Nightside, bearer of a gift that will most certainly be the end of him.
It’s been five years since John left the Nightside, vowing never to return. He makes his living in the real world as a Private Investigator working the seediest parts of London. All children of the Nightside have some kind of paranormal gift, and John Taylor’s gift is that he can find things. lost objects, people, locations. When his newest client Joanna Barrett tasks him with finding her runaway daughter Cathy, John simply can’t say no. Doesn’t hurt that Joanna is wealthy, beautiful and pays up front.
When they learn Cathy has found her way to the Nightside, John is given no choice but to take Joanna with him, and introduce her to all his old haunts. In five years, the Nightside hasn’t changed much. the nightclub that’s locked in the 60’s still serves original Coca-cola, Razor Eddie still owes John a favor, the Collector still collects, Shotgun Suzie still loves her guns over anyone else, and everyone is still petrified of John Taylor. I wouldn’t want to live in the Nightside, but it sure is entertaining to read about!
As John and Joanna get closer to finding Cathy John starts to suspect something is very, very wrong. But time is running out, and his attention is elsewhere. . . .
This book was good, not great. It was fun and fast and I’ll bet Green had a blast writing it. The beginning had all the pieces of a potentially great book: the secret “Nightside” part of London where rules don’t apply, John Taylor looking for his past yet afraid what he might find, an unknowable, unquestionable authority whose word is never, ever questioned, a secretive client and a missing teenager.
Unfortunately, the further I got in Something From the Nightside, the less impressed I was by it. A story that started out as intriguing turned into predictable and too quickly wrapped up. With all the horror-ish elements that were introduced early on, I expected an ending with a bigger bang, but it was all wrapped up fairly quickly and easily. I also had some issues with the dialog, but that’s just me being nit-picky.
All that said, if you’re looking for something quick and light and non-cerebral and pulp-noir, Something From the Nightside won’t let you down. Much of it (ok, nearly all of it) has a rather comic book-y feel to it.
The funny thing is, I’m planning to give Simon R. Green another try. the book wasn’t super awesome, but I think it was meant to be a quick & pulpy noirish mystery, and in that, it pretty much succeeded. I’ve got a weakness for “other” world stories, I’d really like to spend some more time with John in the Nightside and learn more about his prophecy-ridden past, and maybe Green’s writing improves.
Anyone else read anything from this series? do you have to read them in order, or can you pull a Terry Pratchett and read the first book or two to get a feeling for the world and then jump around?