Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Dark Side of the Road: Simon R. Green

Brief introduction at Goodreads:
A Country House Murder Mystery with a Supernatural Twist
Ishmael Jones is someone who can't afford to be noticed, someone who lives under the radar, who drives on the dark side of the road. He's employed to search out secrets, investigate mysteries and shine a light in dark places. Sometimes he kills people. Invited by his employer, the enigmatic Colonel, to join him and his family for Christmas, Ishmael arrives at the grand but isolated Belcourt Manor in the midst of a blizzard to find that the Colonel has mysteriously disappeared. 
Simon R. Green, the author of this book, is a very prolific science fiction and fantasy author. Many of his series also have an element of mystery.


I have enjoyed several books that mix mystery with fantasy or science fiction. Green's books are a little too heavy on the fantasy side for me, but I still found this to be a very enjoyable  read. I love the way Green tells a story, and I have no problem suspending my disbelief. In The Dark Side of the Road the pacing was good; the story never drags. There are touches of humor, although not the laugh out loud type. However, the story does turn dark fairly quickly. There was too much of a romance element for me, but it did not take over the story. A plus is that it is set at Christmas, and I always love a Christmas story, even in mystery novels where the crime usually overpowers the joys of the season.

I have read two other books by Green, both from the Secret Histories series. The main character in that series is Eddie Drood, a secret agent also known as Shaman Bond. My review of Daemons are Forever is here. I liked this book better than the book in the Secret Histories series, probably because of the setting, a large mansion out in the country in the middle of an impenetrable snowstorm. They are similar in many ways. This book is not totally serious, but it relies a lot less on humor than the Eddie Drood books.

This is the first book I have read for the Once Upon a Time Challenge, hosted by Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings

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Publisher:   Severn House, 2015
Length:      224 pages
Format:      e-book
Setting:      UK
Genre:        Fantasy /  Mystery
Source:      Provided by the publisher for review.

14 comments:

  1. Tracy - I must confess that I'm not much of a fantasy person myself, to be perfectly honest. That said though, I do respect authors who do it well; it's very hard to create a credible reality that couldn't actually exist, if I may put it that way. Glad you enjoyed this.

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    1. Margot, this one did not feel like fantasy at all for about two-thirds of the novel. More like spy fiction in a country house setting. But the last third was pretty fantasy-oriented.

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  2. A new author to me Tracy, glad you liked it, but I'll pass I think.

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    1. Col, I will go for my fantasy / mystery crossovers occasionally, and you can go for the darker realistic crime fiction.

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  3. It's not the kind of thing I usually read, I think, but it does sound good, and - like you - I really like a Christmas mystery.

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    1. Moira, I do like the way Green tells a story. That is his strong point. Not my usual fare, but nice for a break.

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  4. I like time travel quite a bit but not books where there are otherworldly characters. Love PORTRAIT OF JENNY, for instance. Or TOM's MIDNIGHT GARDEN.

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    1. TOM'S MIDNIGHT GARDEN sounds very good, I had not heard of that. I have enjoyed time travel books, but haven't read any in a while. My husband has a huge anthology of time travel stories that I am going to dip into.

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  5. Sounds good - I really do like this kind of hybrid as long as it plays 'fair' and doesn;t just use fantasy to write the characters out of a corner!

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    1. Sergio, I don't usually notice whether a book plays fair or not, although I definitely don't like fantasy used to bypass that completely... but I enjoyed this in the end so decided it worked for me.

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  6. I have read Simon R. Green before and it was pretty good. Fast, quick paced reading usually defines his work. Funnily enough, I'm reading a book that combines fantasy and mystery. Starting to get back into this genre and by writers I enjoy. In this case it's Charlaine Harris' GRAVE SURPRISE, a Harper Connelly mystery. So far I am liking it a lot. I have started and stopped so many books in the past week that I just took a break from reading anything at all and I think changing it up a bit has helped too.

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    1. Keishon, I looked up GRAVE SURPRISE and it does sound good. I think I was motivated to try the Sookie Stackhouse series by comments you made about fantasy and mystery. I still haven't read the book I bought in that series, but I plan to get to it.

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  7. Glad you enjoyed this Tracy. My experience of this author has been very different. :)

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    1. Neer, I have only read this book and a couple of books in the Eddie Drood series, so there are a lot of his series I haven't sampled. He has a lot of fans, I fall somewhere in the middle.

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