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Something from the Nightside

Review by: 
Catwalk
Author: 
Simon R. Green
Genre: 
Supernatural
Publication Date: 
2003
Publisher: 
Pengiun Press
Bottom Line: 
4

The Nightside.

The Nightside is a place between realities, where only the darkest desires go to mingle, and every nightmare is a reality. Sex, lust, and violence exist on sliding scales of economy. It is always 3 A.M. and daybreak never finds its way through the shadows. This is the home, and birthplace, to detective John Taylor.

The book finds Taylor living outside of his birthplace, scrounging up a black-and-white living as a private investigator in modern day London. He is behind on his bills. He lives in his office. His life has little meaning, and little excitement. When the bullet-hole ridden door to his office opens at the whim of a tall blonde, Taylor suspects that things are about to change.

Taylor is hired by his new client, a concerned, rich business woman named Joanna Barrett.  Her daughter, Cathy, has gone missing, and she has run out of options.  She’s come to Taylor, which means the police and all the best-and-brightest investigators in London have already tried and failed to get her any results.  When she mentions the Nightside, Taylor knows he can’t turn down the case that will bring him back to the realm he’s avoided for the past five years.

Joanna offers to meet Taylor’s ridiculous fee, with the caveat that she is going to the Nightside with him.  Taylor refuses, but ultimately backs down.  He refuses to fail a client, and he knows deep inside that Cathy can, and will, be found, as long as he keeps his head.  The strange duo enters the Nightside, and John soon realizes that his five-year old reputation is still intact. Joanna, on the other hand, is thrown into a baptism by fire; exposed to the darkest workings of the human heart and soul.  The Nightside isn’t for the faint of heart, and her devotion to her daughter is tested early and often.

It isn’t long before Taylor and his client wind up in the oldest bar in existence; the marvelous myriad of souls called Strangefellows.  Green chooses the bar to provide fodder for Taylor’s reputation, his acquaintances and a peek into the unusual give-and-take that exists in the Nightside.  Taylor and Joanna exit, and are met with the most gruesome, unbelievable and threatening enemies either could ever imagine.

It’s all downhill from there.

Green creates the world of the Nightside in masterful imagery, making sense out of the senseless and challenging readers to question every aspect of reality. Taylor is a tragic hero; granted immense powers and no knowledge of his own history.  Every friend may truly be an enemy. Every heroic action may create tragic results.  Just as the Nightside exists between the real and unreal, Taylor is trapped between what he understands and the great unknown. He can use his Sight to tap into the beyond, but each action is not without consequence.

“Something from the Nightside” is a great creation, resulting from Green’s dedicated research and deep imagination. Taylor’s world owes homage to Raymond Chandler, Stephen King, Clive Barker, and even Mark Danielewski. Yet, the uniquely-gifted investigator is something outside of all those influences. He is something even he does not yet understand.

“Something from the Nightside” is the first book featuring Taylor as the protagonist. It is followed by “The Agents of Light and Darkness” among others.  Green has competed nine books in the series and has indicated it will end with Book 12.  

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