October 1st, 2011


Books 48 & 49

Book 48: "Hell to Pay" by Simon R. Green

I looked at him for a long moment. “Are you saying,” I managed finally, “that not only did Melissa’s kidnappers remove her from this Hall without anyone noticing, but that they walked off with all her belongings as well? And no-one saw anything? Is that what you’re saying?”
“Yes, sir.”
“I have a major slap with your name on it in my pocket, Hobbes.”
“I feel I should also point out that no magics will function in Griffin Hall unless authorised by a member of the Griffin family, sir. So Miss Melissa could not have been magicked out of her room…”
“Not without her cooperation or that of someone in her family.”
“Which is of course quite impossible, sir.”
“No, Hobbes, nailing a live octopus to a wall is impossible, everything else is merely difficult.”
“I bow to your superior knowledge, sir.”
I was still thinking Inside job, but I wasn’t ready to say it out loud.

Although the Authorities who ran the Nightside were killed in the recent war, their representative Walker is still running things on a day to day basis, but there are plenty of other big players jockeying for position with a view to taking over from him. One of the most powerful of these is Jeremiah Griffin, an immortal man who has had business interests throughout the Nightside for hundreds of years. Rumours are rife about the Griffin and the terms on which he and his family gained immortality, and when he hires private detective John Taylor to track down his kidnapped granddaughter who has been somehow been spirited away from Griffin Hall despite its magical protections, it seems that her disappearance may be linked to one of these stories.

I preferred the first three book in the series with their stand-alone plots, to the story arc that took up the next three books, so I was hoping to really enjoy this story but now that the mysteries of the identity of John's mother has been solved and the Harrowing are no longer on John Taylor's trail, the plot of this book seemed a little thin.

The Nightside is still recovering from the war, in which a lot of buildings were destroyed and a lot of big players killed, and everyone seems to blame John Taylor, and this book fell a little flat, as if the series, too, needed time to recover from the war. I was irritated by what seemed a big plot-hole in this book, as a supposedly immortal character is killed, and none of the other characters seem surprised that this person is dead or even comments on it. At the end of the book it says that the Griffins are "getting used to being only mortal now that SPOILER is gone" So how could the a Griffin have died before that?

Book 49: "The Unnatural Inquirer" by Simon R. Green

Most of the Beings on the Street of the Gods didn’t want to talk to me. In fact, most of them hid inside their churches behind locked and bolted doors and refused to come out until I’d gone. Understandable; they were still rebuilding parts of the Street from the last time I’d been here. But there are always some determined to show those watching that they aren’t afraid of anyone, so a few of the more up-and-coming Beings sauntered casually over to chat with me. A fairly ordinary-looking priest who said he was the newly risen Dagon. Stack! The Magnificient; a more or less humanoid alien who claimed to be slumming it from a higher dimension. And the Elegant Profundity, a guitar-carrying avatar from the Church of Clapton, who was so laid-back he was practically horizontal. The small and shifty God of Lost Things hung around, evasive as always. None of them professed to know anything about a broadcast from the Afterlife, let alone a DVD recording. Most of them were quite intrigued by the thought.
“It can’t be authentic,” said Dagon. “I mean, we’re in the business of faith, not hard evidence. And if there had ever been a broadcast from the Hereafter, we’d have heard about it long before this.”
“And just the idea of recording one is so…tacky,” Stack! said, folding his four green arms across his sunken chest.
“But it could be very good for business,” said the Elegant Profundity, strumming a minor chord on his Rickenbacker.

The Unnatural Inquirer is the Nightside's trashy tabloid newspaper, always the first to print the latest scurrilous gossip. The paper has just paid a fortune for a DVD containing a broadcast from the Afterlife, and when the owner disappears before handing over the DVD the sub-editor turns to John Taylor to track them down, pairing him with one of their reporters, a half-demon called Bettie. Although the DVD is supposed to be the first ever recording of heaven or hell, I'm sure that there was a broadcast from Hell playing on a screen in one of the bars or clubs that Taylor visited in "Hell to Pay" (which I read immediately before this book), and the contradiction grated.

Unfortunately the series is getting more than a little repetitive, and the investigations don;t seem to have much meat to them. Similar discussions about the nature of the Nightside's traffic appear in every book, sometimes more than once, and just how often do we need to be reminded that it is Taylor's reputation that is his most powerful weapon? How many times does he tell some powerful opponent that they need to back down just because he is John Taylor? It's getting old.

Let's hope that book nine is a return to form, as I have already bought a copy.
book and cup

#96 The Awful Secret - Bernard Knight (2000)

THE AWFUL SECRET is the fourth outing of Bernard Knight's 12th Century coroner, John de Wolfe. Filled with wonderful detail about life and crime at the time of Richard the Lionheart, Bernard Knight also brings to the books his own experience as one of the foremost Home Office Pathologists. In THE AWFUL SECRET, Crowner John finds himself crossing paths with Knights Templar, the pirates of Lundy and a mystery which could rock the certainty of the Medieval World. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

I have read about 5 of these books now (out of order), and to be frank I am getting rather bored with them. They are great escapism, perfect weekend reading I suppose. In the past I have enjoyed the historical details. However this time - I was just irritated by the arguments Crowner John has with his wife and her brother, the long winded explanations that we have encountered before, which help readers understand the relationships and the back story of Sir John and his two side kicks. I have 2 others of these books TBR - but I don't think I will be reading them now. One of the things I do enjoy however is the setting - Exeter, Devon and the surrounding area - as it's where my Mum comes from and so an area I know fairly well. This book takes us to Ilfracombe, and there's mention of Teignmouth, Kingseinton and Dawlish, places that I spent time in often as a child. It is fun imagining what these places would have looked like all those years ago.