Monday, June 18, 2012

Review: Live and Let Drood by Simon R. Green

I said it once before, and I feel it is worthy of mention again, "Simon R. Green is one of three authors I could never live without". The other two are Mark Scott Zicree and Jim Butcher, and while I feel a bit sexist that I didn't include a female in there, but I feel redeemed by the fact that female authors write better story lines than any two of the above mentioned combined.

I started out with The Nightside series by Green quite a few years back, because lets be honest, I'm an Urban Fantasy junkie and fitting it into a noir/fantasy/sci-fi detective setting is just icing on the cake. I got into the secret histories novels shortly after, during a lull in the Nightside books, and found them just as irreverent and brutally hilarious as the others.

I tried the Deathstalkers series, but to be honest, Sci-fi has never been my thing. Fantasy and Sci-fi are just too different.

The one thing I love about Greens writing style is that he seems to have learned one basic life lesson early on: If it isn't broke, don't fix it. And if it is, the hit it with a very large stick until it can fake it.

For those that don't know, Live and Let Drood is part of The Secret Histories books that started with the Man with the Golden Torc. The Books are very loosely (hanging on by a thread in fact) based off James Bond titles, with the main character of Edwin "Eddie" Drood, or Shaman Bond as he is referred to in his cover identity. There is a clever armourer, Jack Drood, who is a very urban fantasy "Q" and a matriarch who runs everything. You can see now where I got the James Bond part, not to mention that every Secret Histories novel is named after a 007 film.

There's very little that I can reveal about the book without entirely spoiling the last one, but suffice to say Eddie is once again out on his own, without the aid of his family, with only Molly Metcalf, the Wild Witch to help him. The story involves a few new characters, none of which were mentioned in the earlier books, which is about par for Green, as well as some very intriguing plot twists that help fill in some points that were made in earlier books.

I loved this book. The humor is dark and violent and all over the place and Green has proved positive that the old adage, "Actions speak louder than words" is not always true. The descriptions and imagery are excellent, but where Green really shines is in the way his characters interact with each other. Clever turns of phrase and references to literature used in new/distrubing ways make normal conversations in times too funny for words to describe.

This being a British author, some of the phrasings were a bit rough, but Green's books are all like that. I felt my British-to-American translator in my head blow a gasket, unfortunately, when the phrase "cock a snoot" came up, and am still not sure if I should find it funny or just roll my eyes and turn the page.

That being said there was only one thing that irritated me about Live and Let Drood, and it was just something that got my literary mind to halt and look back on it with a withering gaze. Green's Secret Histories novels have always been told from a certain point of view. His Nightside books are all detective novels, so you can imagine them being told to you after the case is closed, but the Secret Histories books aren't like that at all. Everything is told as it is happening and is very present.

There were two points in the book where Eddie talks about how he would find that particularly prevalent after something happened in the future. It was so out of place, and unnecessary that it just kind of blew me away that it made it all the way to print. I say unnecessary, because unless it happens in the next novel (god willing there is a next one), it had nothing to do with anything that happened in the plot.

Also, be prepared with a lot of phrases like "there are books, and then there are books!" just as an example. It seems to be the catchphrase in Live and Let Drood, and became decidedly less funny every time it was used.

All in all I really liked Live and Let Drood by Simon Green. All of the irreverent wackiness and violence was there, and it was very much like coming home to an old friend. I would have loved to talk more about the story in general, but as I said, the plot was so tied in to the ending to the novel before it, that I would hate to ruin it, which makes it hard for the new book to stand on its own, as all books should be able to do.

For any who have never read the Secret Histories books, start with The Man with the Golden Torc. It really is a fun, fast paced, guilty pleasure. And for those that are already fans, don't worry, it's an excellent addition. I give it 9 out of 10 altogether, and trust me, that score is hard won.

The Man with the Golden Torc -

Live and Let Drood -

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