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The Good, the Bad, and the Uncanny (Nightside) by Simon Green
Review by Drew Bittner
Ace Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780441018161
Date: 05 January 2010 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

John Taylor's had many job offers over the course of his career in the Nightside. It was probably just a matter of time before Walker, the agent of the Authorities who run the Nightside, made Taylor an offer of his own. It seems Walker is dying and he wants to pass the reins to Taylor--but things are never that easy in the Nightside.

When his day begins with an elf for a client, John Taylor knows things are going to get bad fast. And they do.

Turns out this elf is supposedly negotiating a truce between the forces of Oberon and Titania (who are nominally good guys) and Mab, a Faerie Queen who's been trapped in hell for a very long time. So the Nightside's most famous (or infamous) private eye agrees to escort said elf across the Nightside to a gate and safety...even knowing that every bounty hunter will be on their trail. His price? The elf offers word of a danger that has not yet surfaced but could mean destruction if Taylor does not act.

Spurred to action in spite of himself, Taylor teams up with Ms. Fate (a transvestite crimefighter) and Larry Oblivion, who is searching for the brother he lost during the Lilith War. Taylor has some guilt on his conscience about that, so he agrees to help Larry in exchange for helping get "Lord Screech" to safety.

In the finest Simon R. Green tradition, nothing goes as planned. Taylor and his colleagues wind up in the hands of the undead Dr. Fell--a new and horrific Power-- and his twisted freak show, before risking the most dangerous path in the entire Nightside. Of course, even there, nothing is ever easy.

Once the elf business is safely handled, Walker talks with Taylor about taking over. Walker is dying and Taylor is...well, not the only one Walker trusts, but his first choice nevertheless. And even though Taylor doesn't want the job, he's going to have to audition anyway...

The resulting day of hell sends Taylor searching for the Collector's new lair in search of a time travel device, not to mention Larry Oblivion's tale of a case gone very badly wrong and a chilling encounter (or two) with Larry's brother Hadleigh, whose powers are awesome and purpose is unclear.

Along the way, a heavyweight supporting character (or two) fall by the wayside and the status quo gets a hard shaking, just before the next bombshell is about to strike. In a series such as this, it's easy to say "nothing will ever be the same" but this time out--it's really true.

Green remains the master of postmodern genre-blending, pulling together a private eye, an outre superheroine, a devious elf, and many others into a combination job tryout, scavenger hunt, and missing persons investigation. Not many would even try something like this, but Green makes it look both easy and fun. The Nightside is one of his best creations, and he handles it with loving attention, raising up entirely new villains while raising the bar for Taylor at the same time.

The Good, the Bad and the Uncanny achieves the near-impossible in a series like this, serving up surprises and "oh no he didn't!" moments long after you might have thought you had the game figured out. Fans of Green's staggering body of work will be well rewarded in this volume; anyone else really ought to start at the beginning, because this journey is much too rewarding to shortcut.

Highly recommended.

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