Monday, May 7, 2007

"Nightingale's Lament" by Simon Green

John Taylor, the man who can find anything, is back in the third Nightside installment. Green is still on his game, although the main plot point in this one takes a backseat for about 2/3 of the book. Taylor gets involved with the usual cast of assorted weirdos, most of whom are new to the ensemble.

The main case here is The Nightingale, aka Rossignol (the french word for nightingale), a new female singer that is causing quite the sensation in the Nightside. Seems she sings the saddest songs and then people go out and kill themselves. Not really good for business. And most worrisome to her father, who hires Taylor to discover just what it is that her new management team, the Cavendishes, have done to her.

Taylor needs something to concentrate on as the case he had previously undertaken ended with disastrous results. Walker, the face/voice of The Authorities, is hot on John's trail, and just might bring him in for extermination this time. Yes, things ended that badly on the botched case. Taylor eludes Walker for most of the novel and tries to uncover the Cavendishes secrets, as well as the validity of the suicide claims. Up to this point, it's always been a friend-of-a-friend that relays the tragic events, so no one is really sure if Rossignol's voice truly affects people in such an adverse way or if it's just a fabulous publicity rumor.

Turns out, it's all too true. When Taylor attends a concert undercover, he witnesses a young man pull a gun and blow his brains out right in front of the stage, close enough that brain matter lands on the young diva's bare feet. Yes, the descriptions of the act are rather graphic, so if you're weak of stomach, I wouldn't advise this book. But the story is so compelling, it's worth it. The Cavendishes are Mr. and Mrs, but they may also be brother and sister (shades of The People Under the Stairs - anyone else remember that Wes Craven sleeper?). They've obviously got an unhealthy stronghold on their star, one that even she herself can recognize. She pleads with John to find out just what is happening.

I can't tell you what's happened, for obvious reasons - gives away the end of the book! This is a good entry, even though Taylor spends quite a bit of time on minor sub-plots. They seem disjointed until the end of the book, where everything comes together. I think Simon Green could have let on a bit earlier how they'd intertwine, but then again, I'm not the author, am I? I still give this series a definite thumb-up and would recommend it to anyone looking for something a bit different.

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