I am a big fan of the Jim Butcher Dresden Files series. The whole idea of combining the modern world with magic is something that I find very attractive. Let’s face it, as a child (and by that, I mean still…) I thought I could do magic if I just focused hard enough. I mean, is the world really a place worth living without some spell-slinging going on? I think not. However, after I’d run through the Dresden Files, I was looking for something to fill in the gap. Enter Simon R. Green’s Nightside series and Hex and the City (Nightside, Book 4).
The series covers the exploits of detective John Taylor who has a special gift for finding anything in the world with his second sight. However, this ability only works in the Nightside, the seedy underbelly of London where everyone’s worst desires can be fulfilled-for a price. Taylor comes across as the typical anti-hero: a good guy trying to make the best of terrible situations, convinced of his own fallibility and unworthiness. However, despite Taylor’s constant pronouncements of his own potential badness, it’s hard to imagine him doing anything intentionally evil.
This book finally starts to hit the meat of the series: how was the Nightside founded, who is John Taylor’s mother, and how can the end of the world be averted. Ostensibly hired by Lady Luck to track down this information, John Taylor enlists the help of the Madman and the Sinner (I love an embodiment of an idea in a character) to track down the information.
The series reads quickly and is a little light on substance, but that doesn’t make it bad. Instead, it’s the sort of novel you can quickly consume on a rainy afternoon or in snatches in waiting rooms. Although not heavy fare, the twists keep it interesting, and the series moves with alacrity. I’ve already ordered the fifth, and the series has made my recommendation list for anyone who likes their urban contemporary fantasy high on action and low on vampire sex.
JMF Rating: 6.5/10