Simon R. Green: Something From the Nightside (2003)

Something From the Nightside

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.

28 thoughts on “Simon R. Green: Something From the Nightside (2003)

    • i think it’s a lot of fun. IIf you like the DResden files it’s worth a try. The Nighside is a pretty wild invention. I’ve read that the series is a bit repetitive but those who coplianed still read at least 8 volumes.
      He’s got a lot of other series one with ghost hunters looked very good too.

    • I like the cover too. The hardboiled paranormal crime is actually pretty good and Im sure I’ll like the DResden Files.
      I think you would like the voice of this one but maybe the plot would be over the top for you.
      I thought the combination was funny and I like irreverent books.

    • I love Angel Heart. That’s exactly the type of story. There are varieties. In some the psychic detective has occult powers, like in this one, in some he’s just avregular detective chasing paranormal things.

  1. Interesting book, Caroline! Like others, I also found the hardboiled PI in a paranormal crime novel interesting. The London Nightside makes me think of a similar world in Neil Gaiman’s ‘Neverwhere’. I loved this line from the passage you have quoted – “There is a room where silence is caged” – it made me think. This looks like an exciting series. Hope you enjoy the next book in the series. Happy reading!

    • I was also reminded of Neil Gaiman but the Nightside is darker and the hardboiled twist is fun.
      Have you read the Dresden Files?
      I guess I’m going to read the first Storm Front and then decide with which series I’ll continue.

      • Nice to know that, Caroline. Hope you enjoy reading the second book in the series. I haven’t read The Dresden Files’. I will look forward to reading your review of it. Happy reading!

          • Interesting to know that, Caroline. I just checked in Wikipedia on ‘The Dresden Files’ and it looks like an elaborate series with the fantasy worlds planned out in detail. While I feel that the ‘Nightside’ series is very Neil Gaimanish, the ‘Dresden’ series seems to be very Stephanie Meyerish 🙂 I can’t wait to read your review of the first volume of ‘The Dresden Files’. I would also love to hear your thoughts on how both the series compare with each other. Happy reading!

            • I’m curious to compare them. I suppose The Dresden Files is better as it seems more elaborate, the individual books are far longer too.
              We will see. 🙂

  2. I really like P.I. novels generally, but can’t quite get enthused about the paranormal. Never say never, though! I’m sure the right book will come along one day and I’ll willingly try that genre.

  3. Sounds interesting…but also sounds a bit weird. The part that makes me raise an eyebrow is when you said go to the future and back again. Before that, it sounds good.

    By the way, you are in the spirit of R.I.P but the challenge hasn’t come yet 😉

    • That’s so true and probabaly by the time R.I.P. arrives I’m not in the mood anymore. 🙂
      The time travel bit is very short and makes a lot of sense. I think you’d enjoy this series.

    • They are available as e-books quite cheap. I need to get to Storm Front soon and compare. I suppose they both have their merits. They certainly both have thier fan base.

  4. It happens! You haven’t heard of an author, then you pick up a book of his randomly from a library shelf, and lo behold his name starts popping up everywhere.

    So it is with this author. Just the other day, I picked up his book Drinking Midnight Wine and now here he is! Haven’t read much of the book but there is a PI in that too – who is descended from the Norse God Thor.

    Enjoyed your post.

    • Thanks, need. That’s a coincidence. It really does happen that way.
      I saw meanwhile that he has written a great deal, several series. He’s very prolific. I hope you’ll enjoy the book. I’ll be checking your review.

  5. I have heard of paranormal romance (don’t think it’s my cup of tea), but have never heard of a paranormal crime novel! It sounds sort of interesting. I have requsted it from my library since it might fit in with the rest of my mystery/crime reading this month–anyway it’s worth a try and promising that you are thinking of reading the next book, too.

  6. Pingback: Jim Butcher: Strom Front (2000) Book One of the Dresden Files | Beauty is a Sleeping Cat

  7. Pingback: Simon R. Green: Ghost of a Chance (2010) A Ghostfinders Novel | Beauty is a Sleeping Cat

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