Casino Infernale: A Secret Histories Novel
by Simon R. Green
Cover Artist: Paul Young
Review by Drew Bittner
Roc Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451414298
Date: 04 June 2013 List Price $26.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Author's Website / Interview with Simon R. Green / Show Official Info /
In Casino Infernale, the newest adventure in Simon R. Green's Secret Histories series, Eddie and Molly get an assignment that nobody has managed to crack: infiltrate the Shadow Bank's annual Casino Infernale and break the bank. Even Eddie's legendary uncles failed in their one-and-only attempt, which daunts the spy also known as Shaman Bond.
To make matters worse, Eddie will have to be Shaman to get inside, because the Bank can smell the otherworldly torc that Droods wear. In other words, to have a chance at winning, Eddie must first lose his best weapon.
After a warm up involving a haunted house, a new generation taking on the name of a violent mystical terrorist faction, and a series of horrifying murders on a lonely island in the north Atlantic, Eddie and Molly are called in by Eddie's new boss, the Regent of Shadows, who oversees the UK's Department of the Uncanny. They get the briefing and are sent out to infiltrate the bank and bring it all down.
It has to be big stakes to make them take the job...and the stakes are high indeed. Crow Lee, the Most Evil Man in the World, is dead (at Eddie's hands) and his legacy is to go to whoever wins the Casino games. The Droods and the Department both cannot risk whatever is there falling into evil hands; a conference is set up in the tombs of Mars (long story) and representatives from many evil-fighting organizations (and one deeply evil one) come to make their case and agree on a course of action. Eddie nearly comes to blows with one or two, but it is finally agreed that Eddie and Molly will make the effort on everyone's behalf. They have a track record of impossible success and besides, the others consider them expendable.
Their guide and support on this mission is Fun Time Frankie, a small time operator who knows the ins and outs of the Casino event. The Bank's teleporting hotel is in the south of France this year, the terrain reorganizing itself to accommodate the monstrously over-sized building, and thus the stage is set.
But Eddie and Molly are already at a disadvantage, when they learn the stakes are souls...and Eddie's apparently down one soul. What happened and why is only the first mystery, as the two very special agents carry out their mission--and learn some awful truths about the Bank, the Crow Lee Inheritance...and themselves.
Casino Infernale is a dynamite new entry in this rollicking adventure series, with its James Bond of the supernatural style. Eddie has saved the world more than once, but this time, he's really got his back to the wall with no armor, unreliable help, and just about every heavy hitter on the planet playing against him. If it weren't for the peerless Molly Metcalf, he'd be really out of luck.
Eddie and Molly continue to be perhaps the most charmingly romantic couple in Green's body of work, sharing a love that is often overlaid with snarky quips but is nevertheless genuine and touchingly tender. Eddie's put through the wringer, fighting folks like the Dancing Fool (who knows too much about Shaman Bond) and the Little Lord (who only wants to go home) on the way to the grand prize, but Molly is with him every step of the way. She puts her trust in him in ways few heroines are obliged to do, and he repays her trust admirably.
Though Eddie rails at the heinous and ruthlessly pragmatic nature of his family, they are nevertheless backing him up this time, with the Armourer creating an array of gadgets that would make Q green with envy, and the cavalry (luckily) only a bugle's call away, so to speak.
Even so, this is an enemy a long way above Eddie's pay grade. The Shadow Bank invests in crime, such that it is virtually the Illuminati of Evil by itself. Apart from the Crow Lee Inheritance, breaking the bank's Casino will rob it of power at least temporarily--and that can only be a good thing. However, Eddie and Molly walk in unaware of the Bank's true nature and purpose--which is a very dangerous bit of ignorance. And ignorance can get one killed very easily.
Green has a fantastic new entry in this series, with his trademark cameos and shout-outs to his own work and many other pop culture touchstones, all building to a shattering climax where it all comes down to one decision. By contrast, the reader's decision is easy: buy this book.