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1.0 out of 5 starsLame premise, lame resolution
Reviewed in the United States on January 31, 2020
Nobody reads the Ishmael Jones books for high literature, but this particular installment was so weak I felt compelled to review it, if only to warn people off. Without getting into spoilers, the premise the story is ultimately built on is ridiculously weak and so implausible in its 'natural' events as to make it laughable. The ultimate resolution of the mystery left me wanting to throw the book across the train car. I'm hoping Simon reads his reviews and avoids passing off this kind of shoddy work on to us in future installments. Maybe this was written by a ghost writer?
My favorite Simon Green books will always be the Nightside series. I have enjoyed the Ishmael Jones series but do have to say this book was a bit weak compared to the others. It takes very little time to actually solve the mystery, but takes the characters almost the entire book. They appear to have gone suddenly brain dead in this book. Biggest reason to continue reading is to find out what the motive is.
At the same time, it is still an enjoyable read and still have to recommend it to other Simon Green fans.
This is the weakest of the series. Very slow and the dialogue was very similar to the Ghost Finders. If you changed the names of a couple of the characters you would have a Ghost Finders book. Not much otherworldly about the plot or the solution.
Reviewed in the United States on February 22, 2020
Was a little disappointed in the lat book of the series, but this was a good thriller. A little predictable on the ending but wonderfully written and just distracting enough to be able to question my expectations in the story. Great author with a wonderful mind. Excited for the next adventure.
4.0 out of 5 starsAnd Now for Something A Little Bit Different, But Sort of the Same
Reviewed in the United States on January 29, 2018
When it comes to Simon Green novels I most definitely favor the series featuring John Taylor and the Nightside. But, as a port in the storm the Ishmael Jones novels do quite nicely. This is the fifth book to star Ishmael and Penny and it strays only a little bit from the usual formula, although in a good way.
This time around we have, as always, a country house sort of mystery. The house is actually an ancient, mysterious Inn surrounded by tales of demons, horror and the macabre. So, when the guests at a private dinner party begin to disappear one by one, from locked rooms and the like, we are not surprised. Neither are Ishmael and Penny, who immediately get to work on the solution.
As is often the case with Green's heroes there is a lot of repetition in their monologues from book to book, and sometimes even within a single book. This time out the reader is brought up to speed on who and what Ishmael is, but only once. With the backstory and character history kept to a minimum the reader is free to focus on the mystery at hand. I've never much minded the monologuing, (Green's heroes are amiable and engaging and they can digress or repeat themselves all they want as far as I'm concerned), but it is sort of refreshing to have this particular book more crisp, streamlined and fast paced. It also means Penny gets to play a larger role, and these books are always a bit brighter and more energetic, (and more amusing), when Penny plays a major part.
And this volume of the Ishmael/Penny adventures is a bit different. We spend the entire first quarter of the book sitting around a banquet table with Ishmael, Penny and the six other people who will be the victims/suspects for the rest of the tale. The ancient Castle Inn is being reopened the next day and these six, the two owners and four local friends, have been invited for a special preview celebration. Grievances, secrets, motives, hidden connections, tensions, and bits of shared history are doled out during the prickly table conversation so that when the first victim disappears all of the pieces and players are in place and the game is afoot. As the guests disappear one by one we get to speculate about why and how and by whom, which is after all the point of one of these.
In a classic sense I guess this book doesn't break much new ground. But as an Ishmael and Penny diversion I found it quite entertaining in that special Simon Green horror/paranormal/cozy style.
(Please note that I received a free advance ecopy of this book without a review requirement, or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)
4.0 out of 5 starsFun, light read. Not too serious a mystery
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 8, 2019
A slightly shorter than previous books in this series. As a reader of the series as a whole, this was nice to see the main characters flesh out a little more, while still keeping the thrust of the story on the mystery that was unfolding and needing solving. And this time the main protagonist's larger than life traits were kept to almost incidental, which I felt was better than previous books where it got somewhat over emphasized at times.
I must say, I half guessed the ending and the big reveal, and felt the misdirection earlier in the story was a little clumsy to the point that revealing the methods of the antagonist felt almost shoehorned in. "It's not what you think, I totally checked beyond doubt. Oh, hang on, turns out it was, why didn't I think of that sooner." Still, overall an enjoyable light read. The characters are interesting. The setting atmospheric. Don't take it too seriously and you'll enjoy it.
*slight spoiler alert* This time the supernatural element really was entirely in their heads. Apart from Ishmael being alien, everything else is actually the machinations of mundane human beings with bad intentions and misdirection.