The editor of the Unnatural Inquirer, the Nightside's most notorious gossip rag (the one everyone pretends not to read), has offered me more than one million pounds to find a man named Pen Donavon, who claims to have evidence of the Afterlife - picked up on a television broadcast and burned onto DVD. The Inquirer made Donavon a sweet deal for exclusive rights. Then both he and the disc vanished. I don't know if the disc is on the level, but a job's a job (and a million pounds is a million pounds). Trouble is, not only are all of the usual suspects pretty dangerous individuals, but it's beginning to look like someone else - someone very powerful - is on the trail, too. And who - or what - ever it is, is deadly determined to find the disc first.
©2008 Simon R. Green; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.
"Green skillfully blends action and humor, and shows no sign of running out of ideas. This installment will undoubtedly rope in new readers who enjoy his blend of dark humor and the supernatural." (Publishers Weekly)
What I find terribly cool about listening to this novel is that I can really see, for the very first time, the influence of Dashiell Hammett's The Thin Man on the series. The main characters of that novel, Nick and Nora Charles, are clearly reflected in the characters of John and Bettie in this novel. Working together rather well, they solve a complicated mystery by combining their talents in a way which compliments each other quite nicely. (Somewhere in the Nightside series, Green pays homage to Samuel Dashiell Hammett by mentioning that multiple Maltese Falcon are always for sale somewhere in the Nightside. Nice touch, Green!)
Good parts here from a narrative perspective include John and Suzie dealing with the Aquarius Key; Max Maxwell (so named because he so big that his name is repeated twice), the self-proclaimed Voodoo Apostate, at the demon infested Fun Faire fending off really nasty bounty hunters being ridden by the loa Max would like to control; and Taylor dealing with a very hungry T-Rex as he needs to talk to the Collector very badly. The ending of the latter is the single funniest bit of dialogue in the entire Nightside series! (Scariest bit is the part describing Shadow Deep, the Nightside prison. What a nasty place that is!)
Was it better listening to The Unnatural Inquirer than reading it? Definitely yes.
Cat Eldridge / Green Man Review
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
John Taylor has been hired by The Unnatural Inquirer, the gossip magazine of the Nightside, to find a stolen DVD that allegedly contains a recording of a transmission from the afterlife. His investigation will take him all over the Nightside where we’ll encounter old and new friends (and enemies).
The Unnatural Inquirer is the eighth book in Simon R. Green’s NIGHTSIDE series. If you’ve read all the previous books, you know what to expect here and, depending on your tastes, that’s either a good or a bad thing. If you just want to hang out with John Taylor and his friends in the Nightside, The Unnatural Inquirer will probably please you. It’s got everything we expect from a NIGHTSIDE book — a fast-moving romp through a decadent parallel world with some of the strangest people and creatures you’ll ever meet.
Unfortunately, as I’ve mentioned in my reviews of the past few books, this formula has become stale and repetitive and I’d say it’s intolerably so in this novel. Again, something is interfering with John Taylor’s power so that he’s forced to do old-fashioned detective work rather than use his magic to solve the crime. Again, the power comes back when the plot needs it to. By the way, I’m still confused by John’s magic. Everyone is afraid of him because he’s the most powerful entity in the Nightside, yet the way he uses his magic seems arbitrary. Why can he sometimes do amazing world-bending things with his power, but other times he seems to forget he has any?
Again, we go to new places and meet new characters and organizations who are so important or powerful in the Nightside that we should have heard of them before now. In every book we meet a character (a “Major Player”) like this. In The Unnatural Inquirer it’s the Removal Man — a man that everyone is afraid of because he can remove someone from the world with just a thought. Yet we’ve never heard of him before now. And why have we never heard of The Unnatural Inquirer, a magazine that’s very influential in the Nightside? The fact that we haven’t indicates that Green is making it all up as he goes along. That’s fine, but it makes his world feel very thin. It’s all quite inventive — Green frequently gives us new lists of all the weird people who exist, and weird stuff that happens, in the Nightside — but it’s paper thin. He may describe ten characters in thirty seconds and we’ll chuckle and think “that’s cool,” but we’ll never hear of them again.
Again, Green uses the same wording over and over and I can even predict some of the things he’s going to say (“I opened my eye, my private eye… and it was the easiest thing in the world to…”). This is perhaps what bothers me most — the fact that so much of the wording is the same in every book.
I keep reading NIGHTSIDE because I purchased all the books on audio when they were on a sale at Audible. The narrator, Marc Vietor, is wonderful and I don’t regret reading them — they’re entertaining — but Green seems creative enough that they could be so much better.
Immigration lawyer in Kansas City. I like Character driven dramas, fantasy (monsters, magic and witches oh my!) and coming of age stories. Favs include: The Book Thief, The Game of Throne series, Harry Potter Series, Dresden Files, Nightside series, anything by Neil Gaimen, 100 Years of Solitude.
This series is fun and fast paced. it is a quick listen and I always enjoy them.
John Taylor is a fantastic character. He is deeply flawed and a good bad guy. I like how he has developed through the series.
I liked his conversation with the reporter about why he and Suzy Shooter belong together.
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