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Nightingale's Lament
Simon R. Green
Ace, 256 pages

Nightingale's Lament
Simon R. Green
Simon R. Green was born in 1955 in Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire, England. He obtained an M.A. in Modern English and American Literature from Leicester University and he also studied history and has a combined Humanities degree. After several years of publishers' rejection letters, he sold seven novels in 1988, just two days after he started working at Bilbo's bookshop in Bath. This was followed by a commission to write the novelization of the Kevin Costner film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. He is a British Fantasy Society (BFS) member and still finds time to do some Shakespearean acting.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Deathstalker Return
SF Site Review: Drinking Midnight Wine
SF Site Review: Beyond The Blue Moon
SF Site Interview: Simon R. Green
SF Site Review: Deathstalker Destiny
SF Site Review: Swords of Haven
SF Site Review: Deathstalker Honor
SF Site Review: Twilight of the Empire
SF Site Review: Deathstalker Rebellion
Simon R. Green Tribute Site

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Michael M Jones

In the Nightside, London's secret, dark heart, anything is possible, and sooner or later, everyone who's anyone comes to visit, or to stay. There's a lot that goes on in the Nightside, almost all of it illegal, immoral, unpleasant, or self-destructive. It's a place where angels and demons jostle each other in the waiting lines of clubs run by the Fae, where time travelers get revenge on pulp-era adventurers, where monsters perform in musical numbers, and where the taxicabs might just eat you if you forget to tip the driver. And that's on a good day.

John Taylor is one of the Nightside's most notorious inhabitants. A detective with the power to find anyone or anything, he's hated and feared, pursued by relentless enemies and one of the scariest, nastiest people around. You have to be, if you plan to poke your nose into matters that don't concern you in the Nightside. He has survived thus far on luck, cunning, and intelligence, for the most part. But his latest case may be the death of him yet.

He's been hired to investigate the matter of Rossignol, the Nightingale, a popular singer whose fans have been, of late, driven to suicide by her music. The answer clearly lies with the Cavendishes, her agents, a pair of entrepreneurs who are as ruthless as anyone in the Nightside, with the power to back up their arrogance. The further John delves into the case, the closer he gets to some very unpleasant revelations regarding the Cavendishes, the Nightingale, and the fate of an old friend or two. Luckily, he has got backup in the form of Dead Boy, a man too stubborn to die in a place where death happens almost at random.

Simon R. Green throws out more mad, over-the-top, fun concepts per page than most writers do in an entire series. The trick is to accept a certain tongue-in-cheek, anything-goes attitude, and roll with it. Cannibalistic cars. Victorian-era heroes. Ancient demons. Time travelers. Obscenely awful prostitutes. Diva-channeling transvestites. Down-and-out superheroes. And walking through it all, John Taylor, the sort of scary bastard that could eat John Constantine (of DC Comics' Hellblazer) for lunch and never think twice. It really takes a special kind of writer to throw so many elements into the broth and come out with a coherent, even entertaining story. What's more, his writing is so stylized, so confident, that he can get away with it. There are times when I swear it must be a British thing, because the only writers I know of who can successfully utilize such a mad, capricious, over-the-top style are ones like Green, Alan Moore (Watchmen, From Hell), Grant Morrison (JLA, New X-Men, The Invisibles), and Warren Ellis (Planetary, Transmetropolitan, Global Frequency). And yes, I know those last three are all best known for their comic book work. If Green ever found an artist worthy of his talents, he could wreak havoc on the world.

What it all boils down to, however, is that you'll either love or hate Green's work. Nightingale's Lament, the third in a series of books featuring John Taylor, is bound to appeal to fans of Jim Butcher or Kim Harrison, among others. The plot is fast-paced, the action visceral, the characters memorable, and the dialogue sharp. Dark urban fantasy just doesn't get much better than this.

Copyright © 2004 Michael M Jones

Michael M Jones enjoys an addiction to books, for which he's glad there is no cure. He lives with his very patient wife (who doesn't complain about books taking over the house... much), eight cats, and a large plaster penguin that once tasted blood and enjoyed it. A prophecy states that when Michael finishes reading everything on his list, he'll finally die. He aims to be immortal.

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