Can Anyone Recommend a Book Similar to

Recently I read a very stylish fantasy/sci-fi detective book entitled Something From the Nightside by author Simon Green. Basically, the story involves a broke, down on his luck detective, searching for a missing girl in an alternate, very deadly dimension called “The Nightside.”

The story has a very noir feel, and contains liberal doses of beautiful women, demons, succubi, ghost restaurants, vampires, and other menacing figures. It’s a short book (250 pages) but I really enjoyed the setting and charasmatic yet self-loathing lead character. It was a great distraction from the more epic tales I usually find myself reading.

The book also gave me flashbacks to Glenn Cook, and his wonderful stories revolving around the detective Garrett. (Sweet Silver Blues, Old Tin Sorrows)

Can any of you recommend a good book with a sci-fi/fantasy/detective slant? Perhaps something that contains all the usual staples- a beautiful woman, a sarcastic, penniless lead character who is looking for that last big case, rain, smoking guns, neon lights…plus a peppering of demons, elves, aliens and vampires.

Nothing too heavy, please. I’m not interested in reading the War and Peace of detective stories, or another author like George R.R. Martin.

Any suggestions would be appreciated. Books of this type haven’t been easy for me to find.

Try Steven Brust’s books about Taltos the assassin. Taltos is a tough-guy in a fantasy world and the couple of books I’ve read read like hardboiled mysteries. Taltos gets in the middle of mob wars, etc. Brust even uses contemporary speech instead of the stilted fantasy speech you often see in fantasies. There’s a trade paperback version that collects the first three novels: The Book of Jhereg: Contains the Complete Text of Jhereg, Yendi, and Teckla

Stalking the Unicorn: A Fable of Tonight by Mike Resnick is probably what you want also. From Amazon’s description:

It’s 8:35pm on New Year’s Eve, and Private Detective John Justin Mallory hides out in his Manhattan office to avoid his landlord’s persistent inquiries about the unpaid rent. As he cheerlessly reflects on the passing of a lousy year that saw his business partner run off with his wife, he assumes the bourbon is responsible for the appearance of a belligerent elf trying to solicit his business in searching for a unicorn that was stolen from his charge. When Mallory realizes the little green fellow is not going to disappear with the passing of his inebriation, he listens to the elf’s impassioned plea that the stolen magical beast must be returned to his care by daylight … or his little green life will be forfeit by the elves’s guild.

If you can find it, a novella by Robert Heinlein will fit the bill also – Magic, Inc.

I enjoyed the Lord Darcy stuff by Randall Garret. Darcy’s a Sherlock Holmes-type of detective in an alternative Victorian London where the laws of magic have been codified instead of physics. These are old stories, but a collection has been reissued under the title Lord Darcy.

Finally, and these are probably not exactly what you want, but you could try some of Tim Powers stuff. He’s written a number of fantasy novels with realistic, contemporary settings, though his best is the Anubis Gates and is set in early 19th century England. Last Call is about Las Vegas, gambling, tarot cards, Bugsy Siegel, and more. Expiration Date is another good one by Powers:

Koot Parganas has stolen the ghost of Thomas Edison, preserved in a hidden glass vial. Now he’s on the run through the dark underside of Los Angeles, among characters who extend their lives and enhance their power by catching and absorbing the ghosts of the recently dead.

George Alec Effinger’s Budayeen series, starting with When Gravity Fails.

Jonathan Lethem’s Gun, With Occasional Music.

Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?.

Laurel Hamilton The Laughing Corpse

Mark, I knew there was something I liked about you. Tim Powers is awesome! Have you read Dinner at Deviant’s Palace or Forsake the Sky?

As far as the original question goes, and I may need Chris to help me out on this, but he loaned me a book long ago titled “Those Who Hunt the Night”, a detective story involving Victorian England (I thinK) and vampires. I’m too lazy to go search for the author right now, sorry…

I second the recommendation on Steven Brust’s books. Of course, I’m such a complete Brust fanboy that I’ve got an uber-geeky webpage devoted to him:
http://www.theworld.com/~alexx/brust.html

Those Who Hunt the Night is by Barbara Hambly (IIRC), and is a pretty good book, though not a great match for what you asked for, I think.

My own suggestion would be John M. Ford’s The Last Hot Time, which is set in a Chicago run by elvish gangsters. As with all Ford books, very good, and completely unlike anything else he’s written.

Peter F Hamilton’s Mindstar/Greg Mandel series.

The covers on those though, make me want to hide them.

Matthew Stover’s “Heroes Die” is a good one with a contemporary (well, almost) hero in a fantasy world.

“Tim Powers is awesome! Have you read Dinner at Deviant’s Palace or Forsake the Sky?”

Read Dinner, but not the other one. Is that new? I did get around to reading Declare a few months ago, and enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t recommend it to someone new to Powers.

I think I’ve read most of his books. Haven’t gotten to The Stress of Her Regard yet. The Anubis Gates and On Stranger Tides are my favorites, followed closely by Last Call and Expiration Date.

Is this a contemporary detective/vampire novel? She’s done a whole series of those and they’re set in my hometown of St. Louis. Haven’t read them, though.

Thanks for the suggestions, everyone. I’ve started out with Steven Brust’s The Book of Jhereg. I got a chance to skim it in Borders this evening, and it seems like a good read. It’s not exactly what I had in mind, but it does seem to share many of the elements I enjoy. Vlad seems like an interesting lead character. Hopefully the surrounding cast is equally notable.

Thanks again!

I will chime in on the Tim Powers reccomendations. I liked Last Call the most of what I’ve read of him, but Declare, Earthquake Weather, and Expiration Date are all also good. Last Call, Earthquake Weather, and Expiration Date are actually a three book cycle. The Stress of Her Regard is along the same electro-supernatural lines as some of his other work, and it revolves around Lord Byron, Shelly, and Keats and their supernatural muse. I though it was at least as good as Earthquake Weather.

Brust is also very good, but you’ll probably want to stick to the Vlad Taltos books, unless you get the hankering for high-fantasy Dumas, in which case Five Hundred Years After and The Pheonix Guards are good. But that’s not what you asked for, so…

I like Lethem, but Gun, with Occasional Music didn’t do it for me. Effinger’s Budayeen series is excellent, but I haven’t seen it in bookstores in ages. Hmmm, Amazon has most of these out of print, but a new book called Budayeen Nights with Barbara Hambly is coming out in September. I wonder what that is?

For original suggestions, I’m going to toss out Haruki Murakami’s A Wild Sheep Chase and Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World, both of which are incredible. Dance, Dance, Dance is a little heavier, and a sequel to Sheep Chase, so you probably don’t want to start with that one, and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is best of all (in my opinion) but long and very heavy reading, so also less what you’re asking about.

“…unless you get the hankering for high-fantasy Dumas, in which case Five Hundred Years After and The Pheonix Guards are good.”

I tried to read those, but I had no patience for that pseudo 19th century style prose. If I want that, I’ll make myself finally get around to reading Tom Jones.


“What’s that supposed to mean?”

Mark Asher said, “Read Dinner, but not the other one. Is that new?”

Forsake the Sky is one of his first, I believe. I like it, Chris didn’t. But Chris also didn’t like Expiration Date or Dinner at Deviant’s Palace. He is a clueless loser, really. Kidding, of course. Seriously, if you can find Forsake the Sky on Ebay or at 1/2 price books, check it out.

As far as Brust goes, I really dig To Reign In Hell. I am so glad they reprinted it, as I had lost my copy from “loaning” it to a friend. I have a few of the Vlad books, and have been trying to find the time to break into them. Maybe after Order of the Phoenix… If so many of you like them, they must be worth checking out.

I explained my thoughts on Powers novels on the old boards. When he his on, his books have an energy to them that really grabs hold of you. The Anubis Gates, On Stranger Tides and Last Call all had that aspect to them. But when he doesn’t capture that, the books just seem dull and lifeless. I could barely get through The Stress of Her Regard and could not finish Expiration Date. He has all these great ideas, he just doesn’t always piece them together. The rest of his work is a mix of both, readable but nothing that grabs you like his best work. The Drawing of the Dark, Forsake the Sky, Declare and Dinner at Deviant’s Palace I put in that mid-range category. I do want to give Expiration Date another try, I just haven’t worked up the desire to yet.

Still, Powers has a great flair for combining a bunch of disparate ideas and putting them together in a satisfying manner. The Anubis Gates is chock full of ancient Egyptian sorcerers, time travel, werewolves (kinda), evil clowns and poetry. I have to say that On Stranger Tides is my favorite book of his, I just like the feel he evokes of the era it takes place in, along with the combo of pirates and voodoo.

So far I’m enjoying The Book of Jhereg. I’m on page 125, and the book has just enough twists and novelty to make it interesting. At first I was concerned when I saw that the book was written in the first person narrative. I’ve read more than one auther who, due to the limitations of the first person, had difficulty telling a complex, vivid story. Luckily, this doesn’t seem to be the case with Mr. Brust.

If I have any one complaint it would be that the author has not spent enough time fleshing out the supporting characaters. While Vlad is highly entertaining, his companions seem rather one dimensional at this point. Of course, having just passed 100 pages, it is too early to pass judgement on this current shortcoming.

The book (well, collection) cost $16, and at this point I think it was money well spent.

Is this a contemporary detective/vampire novel? She’s done a whole series of those and they’re set in my hometown of St. Louis. Haven’t read them, though.[/quote]

Hamilton does alternate history…kinda… The Anita Blake books (first one is Guilty Pleasures) are set in a present-day world in which vampires have been given legal rights in the US. Anita raises the dead for a living, also consults for the police on cases where it looks like the supernatural was used in the killings.

The first 5 or 6 books are pretty good reads, but about the time she hit hardbacks, she got (IMO) way off track on having a plot and story and got caught up with Anita’s personal (sexual) life - later ones read like a Penthouse letter. And avoid the Merrie Gentry series - blech! They really need serious editing.

This is a near perfect summary. Sometimes Powers is really good, other times he just comes across like his buddy Koontz, master of crap.

Tyrion Lannister