The Nightside is really just like any other major city, only amplified, intensified, like the city streets we walk in dreams and nightmares.
If Chandler’s Marlowe had been investigating paranormal crime, he’d probably be a lot like John Taylor, the hard-boiled PI from Simon R. Green’s Nightside series. While Harry Dresden, Jim Butcher’s PI, is currently the most famous psychic or occult detective, I decided to read Something From the Nightside before finally trying my first book of the Dresden Files. Both PI’s have their fan base but as long as I haven’t read anything else but a few short stories featuring Harry Dresden, I cannot compare. For the time being, I really like John Taylor.
One afternoon a beautiful woman knocks on John Taylor’s office door. Taylor is surprised. He is a luckless PI with fewer cases than a beginner, so he thinks that if anyone wants to hire him, there must be a catch. He is right. Joanna Barrett’s daughter went missing. But not in London. She went missing in the Nightside, the dark, mysterious, dangerous otherworldly heart of London. A place John Taylor has left and sworn to never return to. Why? Well, he has his reasons but he won’t tell. If he wasn’t in a precarious situation, he would never accept to help Joanna Barrett but he’s broke, so what can he do?
The story is a tale of paranormal crime, structured as portal/quest story which is very interesting. The Nightside can only be accessed through a portal hidden in the London underground tunnels.
It’s always night in the Nightside. It’s always three o’clock in the morning and the dawn never comes. People are always coming and going, drawn by needs that dare not speak their names, searching for pleasures and services, unforgivable in the sane daylight world. You can buy or sell anything in the Nightside, and no-one asks questions. No-one cares. There’s a nightclub where you can pay to see a fallen angel forever burning inside a pentacle drawn in baby’s blood. Or a decapitated goat’s head, that can tell the future in enigmatic verses of perfect iambic pentameter. There is a room where silence is caged, and colors are forbidden, and another where a dead nun will show you her stigmata, for the right price….
Crimes that are committed in the Nightside, are more gruesome than anywhere else in the world. People are crazy, addicted, deranged and evil. That’s why John Taylor left the place. That and because people want him dead which has something to do with his mother and what he inherited from her. Unfortunately John doesn’t know his mother and what she was.
Once in the Nightside, Joanna and John follow every lead they can find, interrogate people, fight monsters. They meet some extraordinary characters in the Nightside. Shotgun Suzie and Razor Eddie are just two of them. Both have their names for a reasons. They visit sleazy bars and derelict houses, travel into the future and back again.
Green’s imagination is quirky and amusing. The ideas he comes up with are a lot of fun. And I loved John Taylor’s voice, his sarcasm and macabre humour.
Maybe I will end up liking Harry Dresden more but for the time being, I really enjoyed the paranormal noir story Simon R. Green has concocted in Something from the Nightside. I may very well read the next volume as well.