Simon R. Green's homage to Agatha Christie's mysteries isn't like any other tribute I've ever read. But, then, Green's urban fantasies are twisted and a little gruesome, and wonderful. Welcome to Ishmael Jones' world in the first mystery in that series, The Dark Side of the Road.
When Ishmael Jones' boss in The Organization, the Colonel, tells him he needs him at his family's country house estate in Cornwall, Ishmael heads out into a terrible blizzard. "Off into the night, and the dark, one more time. To do things in the shadows that the everyday people don't need to know about." But, when he arrives, he finds the Colonel's family and a few friends gathered fro Christmas. There's the Colonel's father, Walter Belcourt; Walter's current wife and gorgeous daughter, Penny; his ex-wife, Diana, who is the Colonel's mother; Diana's companion; a business acquaintance of Walter's, and Penny's ex-fiance. Of course, there is also a mysterious butler and a cook. But, there's no Colonel. When Ishmael and Penny find a body out in the snow, it's all to obvious that they're stranded in the country house with a killer.
In typical Christie fashion, the bodies pile up as the suspects persist in wandering off by themselves in the manor. However, the murders are a little more grisly than in traditional mysteries. But, it's easy to recognize the patterns, and Green plays with the reader. Ishmael and the Colonel once worked on a case involving Roger Styles, two names familiar to Christie fans. Of course, there's a military title, the Colonel. But, the most amusing correlation comes with a conversation between Walter's ex-wife and his present one. Diana starts with, "'I feel like a character in an Agatha Christie novel! Which is never good for a minor character...'" "'I am not a minor character!' Melanie said immediately. 'Walter; tell that woman I am not a minor character!'"
If you don't mind a little horror and supernatural elements in your mystery, if you're a fan of Agatha Christie, you might want to venture into Ishmael Jones territory, "the hidden world, and the dark side of the road". Simon R. Green has once again created an intriguing hero and a fascinating world in the first in his new series, The Dark Side of the Road.
Simon R. Green's website is www.simonrgreen.co.uk
The Dark Side of the Road by Simon R. Green. Severn House. 2015. ISBN 9780727883889 (hardcover), 217p.
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