Simon R. Green’s The Dark Side of the Road

The first thing you need to know is that all of the fiction that Green has done over the past several decades is interconnected, with shared characters and settings. Some of the series are deeply interwoven, some connected just enough that you know that they are. This series involving Ishmael Jones is one of the latter. Indeed, except for the occasional infodump that one of the characters does, it really doesn’t show that it’s part of his universe at all.

Ishmael Jones is an alien that crash landed on Earth some sixty years ago and whose ship transformed him into perfect copy of a human being right down to genetic code.   It also removed all of his previous memories so he has no idea who he was. He’s human — though much stronger and faster, and apparently immortal, but he thinks of himself as human, as he’s never known anything else. (No, don’t think too deeply about how he knows that he was transformed.) And so sixty years later, he’s working for The Organisation, one of those secret groups that may or may not be part of the British government, like Torchwood in the Doctor Who universe,  and it serves much of the same function — pushing back against things from the dark side of reality.

The Ishmael Jones series is Green’s only ongoing series, as he ended both his Nightside and Secret History series over the past few years, wrapping both up in Night Fall (which I really need to write up. I’ve mixed feeling about it as a finale, which is why I haven’t so far.) I think this is the first time that he’s only had one series ongoing — he’s had as many as four series being published at a time!

The Dark Side of the Road which kicks off the series, now six volumes in length with one due out this Fall, sets the general premise up. Jones is someone who can’t afford to be noticed, someone who lives under the radar, a grey man doing those jobs that keep us safe from those things that we’re best not knowing about.  If you looked at him on a city street, you’d most likely just glance away.

And now The Colonel, his contact at The Organisation, has invited Ishmael and his family for Christmas, but Ishmael arrives at the grand but isolated Belcourt Manor in the midst of a blizzard to find that the Colonel has mysteriously disappeared. Over the course of the next few days, almost everyone in the House will die under mysterious and frankly violent circumstances.

The story is a bit science fiction, and with more than a dash of  horror, and a lot of fantasy. And it’s a mystery as well though I don’t think that it’s really possible for the reader to solve the question of who the murderer is as Green doesn’t really play fair on the matter. Let’s just say that it’s a lot of fun, similar in tone to his Ghost Finders series which I liked a lot.

(Tantor Audio, 2015)

About Cat Eldridge

I’m the publisher of Green Man Review and Sleeping Hedgehog.

My current novels are listening to Pushing Ice by Alastair Reynolds, and reading Naomi Kritzer’s Catfishing on Cat-net and Anthony Boucher’s Murder in the Morgue My current graphic novel is Spider-Gwen: Most Wanted..

I’m listening to a whole bunch of new Celtic and Nordic new releases but I’ll dip in my music collection for such artists as Blowzabella, Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, and Frifot as the weather goes colder.