Simon R. Green,
Nightside #8: The Unnatural Inquirer
(Ace, 2008)

The Nightside is London at its worst, always at 3 a.m. As private investigator John Taylor says, "the place runs on irony." Legends, living and dead, walk the streets and lives are cheap.

In this 8th Nightside saga, Pen Donovan has allegedly made an Afterlife Recording on DVD. The Unnatural Inquirer, Nightside's version of a supermarket tabloid, contracted to buy the recording from him -- and Donovan disappeared.

It's the Nightside, and so there are many people who'd want the recording. Walker, the Voice of the former Authorities, wants the recording destroyed because of the havoc it would wreak. The inhabitants of the Street of the Gods simply do not want to know. The Collector, who'd stop at nothing to get what he wants, would love to add such an item to his hoard.

Scoop Malloy, the second editor, calls John Taylor in to find Donovan and bring back the recording. Only condition: their reporter Bettie Divine, who is half succubus, must accompany John.

Simple, all John has to do is focus his powers on finding the recording and they're done. Unfortunately, someone's blocked him, so he has to resort to good old-fashioned detective work, going from place to place interviewing the prime suspects. Ah, this is why detectives earned the name "gumshoe" in the first place.

In order to find the DVD, John and Bettie practically do a traveloque of the Nightside's hot spots and most nefarious residents, from Hawk's Wind Bar & Grille, home of the '60s in the Nightside, to Kid Cthulhu and his warrior sorcerers, the Buckeroo Gang.

The Unnatural Inquirer is a good fun read all the way through. Simon R. Green's a splendid character writer and humorist, and he does keep you reading.

What I found most interesting in this case was adding Bettie Divine to the mix. She didn't add much to the story save as a foil for all reporters and a potential love interest for John instead of Suzie Shotgun. That begs the question, do two damaged souls remain together -- or can someone start again -- if they even should?

Also, the question of the afterlife and our own connotations is fascinating. Do we really want to know? If so -- why or why not?

The Nightside series is stand-alone in that the main issue in each novel is solved within its pages. Stories do continue from the first book and the characters are fascinating to follow, but you can read this book on its own and enjoy it.

review by
Becky Kyle

16 August 2008

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new