CBR #25 – So Help Me God If The Fucking Butler Did It

Hell to Pay by Simon R. Green

Green pretty much could do anything at this point with his Nightside series, and his choice was…this.  A straight-up gumshoe story.  It’s a return to roots — it’s what John Taylor is supposed to do.  Be a detective. Find things no one else can find.  And this one felt quite literally like a Sam Spade or other hard-boiled detective story.  Sans the boiling.

It was pretty boilerplate.  Taylor is called to the home of The Griffin, an immortal who has amassed a massive fortune and an even more ruthless and powerful reputation, to find out what happened to the Griffin’s granddaughter, Melissa, who had gone missing. The Griffin had willed all his money to her, and that left the rest of his family and their nefarious secret lives, in the lurch.  And so each chapter is pretty much Taylor going and discovering the lurid lives of each of the Griffin’s family members. Among the usual impressive cast of weirdos Green populates his novels with, these folks were a little ho-hum.  And the mystery itself, like every other Nightside tome, wrapped itself kind of neatly and easily. But at least this felt a little more coherent and less just sort of rambly like the last few.

My biggest kind of fart-trombone-noise was that the current mystery of The Nightside, the sort of overarc like we had with John Taylor and his mother in the last six, seems to be “Who will take over the Nightside?”  And with Walker wandering about still able to use his Voice, it begs the question who is supplying Walker with powers now that the Authorities are kaput?  The answers provided so far are maybe the GriffiNOPE. And Walker slyly winking, both at Taylor and the people reading the books.  I’m cool with Taylor going all trenchcoat dick in bottle books if there will be a progression.  But the progression seems to be eking out like the momma mystery: Tell me? No. Tell me! NO. Tell me. Maybe. Tell me. Okay, she’s your mom. You’re my mom? DIE!  No!  DIE!  NO!

I’ll keep plugging along, for if nothing else Simon R. Green ties everything together and I am a bitter completionist.

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