Author: Simon R Green
Publisher: Solaris Books • 544 pages • £7.99
ISBN: 978-1-906735-62-3 • OUT NOW!
Try and picture Sam Spade as a paranormal private investigator, whose job is to wade through an alternative version of London populated by shape-shifting psychopaths, demons and warrior nuns and you have some idea of what to expect from Hell To Pay , book seven in Green’s best-selling Nightside mythology.
The first half of this two-novel omnibus sees PI John Taylor employed to find a missing 17-year-old girl by the most powerful man in the kingdom: an affluent, coldly spoken bully who risks losing his gift of immortality if the femme in question lives past adulthood. Featuring a wicked twist, a universe in which the John Waters Celebrity Perversion Hour is popular television and an “eat the rich” plot (which also finds time to satirise both globalisation and the religious paranoia inherent in the ongoing “War On Terror”), it makes for an easy and enjoyable entry into Green’s weird and wonderful world.
Follow-up tale The Unnatural Inquirer has Taylor being paid £1 million to track down a recording which purports to be from the afterlife. The title refers to a gossipy newspaper, itself involved in all kinds of shady shenanigans; the presence of a half-demon reporter probably sums up the author’s attitude towards tabloids in general. Containing even more dark humour than the previous outing (“he always wore black because he was mourning for his sex life” goes one laugh-out-loud observation), alongside the occasional smart homage to HP Lovecraft, it’s a fun read.
For a truly chilling vision, consider this: in The Unnatural Inquirer , Stringfellows (renamed Strangefellows) still exists. Scary, isn’t it? Calum Waddell