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text 2014-05-19 23:18
The Nightside series by Simon Green
Agents of Light and Darkness - Simon R. Green
Hell to Pay - Simon R. Green
Nightingale's Lament - Simon R. Green
Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth - Simon R. Green
Hex and the City - Simon R. Green
Just Another Judgement Day - Simon R. Green

I was going to review these all separately, but I think I'm just going to do a bullet point series overview. I've read the first 11 books, and really need to pick up the 12th one and there's a handful of short stories around in anthologies and collections.  The selection of covers up there is pretty random (but aren't they cool?)

 

Basically, if you like book 1, you'll love the others, because they are all better. I think a lot of Dresden fans would love these, they are very similar in tone and scale, but not carbon copies. I think a lot of people who would like to like Dresden, but find Harry problematic, might like these, because reasons. Personally, I go back and forth, but on the whole, if i had to pick one series of the two to take to a desert island, it'd be this one. 

 

It's well written, full to the brim with all manner of mythological and cultural and historical references (and the fun part is, you won't get them all and it doesn't matter - but if you do get some, they're added fun, and I find when I re-read, I get more or different ones.) It's also full to the brim with snark, particularly our self-deprecating protagonist. John is really fun to read about.

 

  • John Taylor is a noir style private detective, but he's got a magic gift, and a really bad reputation. At the start of the series, it's not entirely deserved, but he uses it to his advantage. By a few books in, it definitely is starting to be deserved, although his reputation always outshines the reality. What's fun about Taylor is he's more than happy to let his reputation help him bluff his way out of a fight, and his ego doesn't grow at the same rate as the reputation.
  • There are few damsels in distress here, and there's just as many men who are completely useless and need saving. 
  • And most of the women are the baddest of asses. From Johns friend, and later partner, Suzie Shooter (aka "Shotgun Suzie" or "Oh hell it's her, let's get out of here"), Jessica the Unbeliever, who is can literally unbelieve you out of existence, the usual faerie lot show up with Mab the insane psychopath, and I could list you tons more. 
  • And John is well aware of that - there's no misguided chivalry on display here.
  • There's a lot of general badassery actually, but nobody is essentially unlimited, and certainly not our hero Taylor. He doesn't really suffer from power creep, his magic gift at the end is pretty much the same as it is in the beginning, albeit he's a bit better at figuring out creative ways to use it.
  • His gift is really quite unique. He calls it his "private eye" (snerk) - he can find anything, anywhere, and more often than not, bring it to him. If he asks a specific enough question, and some uber-power more powerful than he is, isn't shutting him down. It's a specific gift, and while he does sometimes use it in ways he couldn't in another tale, it doesn't just keep. getting. bigger.
  • The sidekicks: Razor Eddie, punk god of the straight razor, the worst agent of good that good never asked for, Taylor's friend Alex, the only one to show in every book, bartender, descendant of Merlin Satanspawn, also permanently depressed to the point he could "gloom for the olympics".
  • Suzie, of course, who despite being John's partner in crime, has her own life, her own career (she's a bounty hunter... who likes to bring her prey in dead, because less paperwork that way), and doesn't need to follow John around like a puppy. She's also horribly damaged, as is John, and reading about them developing a relationship over a dozen books, just felt right. No instalove here.
  • It's LONDON!! I love London. Well it's the underground London, the Nightside, that existed before the city ever did, and will probably exist forever. The grand experiment, where heaven and hell stay out of the way, and let everyone get on with whatever they want (except, of course, they don't actually stay out of the way).
  • There are very clear story arcs, which get resolved, but don't shut down the series from continuing. But each book also has an essentially standalone case, so you can read them a bit out of order without it upsetting things too much. 
  • No random interludes for sexytimes (you may not find that a plus, or a minus, I'm just mentioning it, because sometimes it's hard to tell the Urban Fantasy from the PNR erotica). I'd have a hard time calling anything that can get this violent clean, but.... well it's pretty clean. 

 

Well nothing is perfect, and as a series, there are a few (very few, and small) continuity errors, but considering there's time travel and multiple dimensions mixed with magic, it's sort of forgiveable.  

Sometimes Green takes a joke a little too far, and tells it once too often. Then lampshades himself (John Taylor has the twilight zone as his cellphone ringtone for most of the series, then in book 8 or 9 he changes it pointing out even HE can take jokes too far sometimes. Or right in the first book, where the client tells him about five times over "you're lecturing me", when John goes into exposition mode.)

I don't recommend marathon reading, because, like any ongoing series each book has to reintroduce you to the world and it's players, and although it's kept to a minimum and Green is pretty good at it, it does get repetitive when you read them all through back to back.

 

If you really want to give them a first try, then I would say books 1-4 or 1-5 form a complete story arc that is more or less completely resolved. I'd also say I actually like most of the books after that rather better, but we're talking I like them 4.5 and I like 1-5 4.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2013-10-06 01:22
In Death Series so far. . .

So I'm now 25 books into the In Death series and I thought I'd take a moment to do a sort of overall series review. I'm not always great about doing individual reviews on books unless something stood out as either spectacular or fell spectacularly short. If things fall in between, or if, like now I'm reading a whole bunch of series books back to back it often falls in the cracks of my reviewing purview. However, I am now hip deep in this series, of which there are so many books that I've been at it nearly a whole month and thought I'd give some overall impressions about it and share the good, the bad, and whatever else happens. So yes, there will be spoilers up to book 25, Creation in Death.

 

 

Overall I find this is a great series for back to back reads. As with any series there is some mild repetition, some off-putting quirks, and some descriptive phrases I wish the author would quickly and quietly forget. Mostly though, the back-to-back showcases this series great strength which is the subtle and believable growth of the main characters, mostly Eve, but also the regular supporting cast as well. There are some great character moments in nearly all the books so that even when the main story or villains don't interest me much the book can still come out a winner. I really enjoy Eve's growth throughout the books and love how opening herself in one way seems to create all these small openings in others. I love how Eve appears on the surface, and certainly in the first few books, to be cold and closed off which we discover later is not the case at all. I also love how she is continually puzzled and embarrassed when she finds she genuinely cares about someone and when someone genuinely cares about her. Her bafflement with Roarke's gift giving is vastly amusing to me (and to him as well). That initial relationship between her and Roarke started off being rather cliched and ran amazingly fast for me, but later books flesh out his character and their relationship so well that it was only a slight bump in the road for me.

 

Throughout the series I've grown to love almost all the supporting characters. They are myriad although they each seem to be individuals and retain their own characteristics and personalities throughout, which is wonderful. The large supporting cast never seems superfluous or unnecessary, rather they all seem bits and pieces of the whole and I never get the feeling from them that they walk on, say their lines, and are done. A wonderful feat and Ms. Roberts should really be applauded for creating such real, complicated world full of real, complicated people.

 

Speaking of the world, I find the futuristic setting to be more of a distraction than anything. The world building is subtle, which I can appreciate, but it also doesn't feel as if it adds anything to the books. These people, the work they do, could just as easily have been set in the here and now. It's a minor quibble.

 

Mostly, these books just work for me. I adore Eve and her character and her journey are more than enough for me to keep reading the books. The minor frustrations, the few things that don't work for me are smoothed over by my ultimate desire to see her story to the end, to appreciate the growth and the growing pains. I also love the underlying themes of making your own families and overcoming and becoming more than what your beginnings try to force you to be. Obviously if I've stuck out 25 books I'm invested in the outcomes. I think there is enough in these books for fans of police procedurals and also enough for people who may want to dip their toes into romance without going whole hog. Neither element is off putting to me and so I pretty much love the whole package. I'm very much looking forward to what's in store for these characters.

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