Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Book review: Mean Streets

I just finished reading "Mean Streets". It's a collection of four novellas by a variety of popular authors in the supernatural investigator genre.

It starts with an excerpt from Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series. If you missed the TV show a few years back and any of my reviews on the subject then I should mention that this isn't a World War II series and has nothing to do with the shelling of a certain German city.
Butcher's story works better if you're up to date on the rest of the books in the series, but it's not strictly necessary. There are three swords that contain nails from the cross that Jesus was crucified on. These swords are used by select persons to fight monsters. In recent times two of the three books have found themselves in Harry Dresden's possession. Harry has to find the right people to wield them. But in this story someone wants to take the swords from Harry. They try to accomplish this by threatening Michael, one of Harry's friends and former sword swinger, and his family.
All that will be of interest if you're familiar with the series. We were all wondering how Michael has been doing after  being torn up with gunfire in a recent book. But if you're not familiar with the series then you'll probably be more interested in the side scenes that seem like life and have little to do with the plot. At the end of the story Harry finds out what good he was doing while trying to protect Michael.

This story also appears in the book "Side Jobs" which is a collection of short stories from the Dresden Files.

Simon R. Green comes up next. His Tales of the Nightside books have gotten several reviews on this blog, too.
This story has some of what I like most and least about his books. Much like his first book, this story has lots of "That's how thing are... in the Nightside" kind of crap. Way too much, really. But it also spends a lot of time on the streets of the Nightside meeting the creatures that reside there and feeding on the mystery that is John Taylor.
The Nightside is a town inside London that is hard to find even if you know it's there. It's always night and is common ground to all manner of supernatural beings, including many from heaven or hell.
It's a simple case. It doesn't really require previous reading and doesn't feed into any of the ongoing storylines at all. A woman shows up who has lost twenty four hours and has no idea how she found herself ... in the Nightside. She was sent to John Taylor because he's great at finding things. She, Taylor, and Deadboy take a trip into one of the nastier parts of a nasty town to find her memory and what happened to her husband.
It's a story about a road trip. It introduces the reader to ... the Nightside. Not the story I'd recommend for an introduction ... to the Nightside, but not bad.

The next couple of authors I was unfamiliar with. Kat Richardson's Greywalker series is about a woman who can see the dead. She's been hired in some stranger's will to go to a grave in southern Mexico with a statue of a dog and place it on a grave overnight on the Day of the Dead. Lots happens at the end of the story to explain the who's, what's, and why's. Until then you get a nice tour of the city, it's people, and it's dead. It's an interesting exploration of the Day of the Dead and how their culture views death.
This story is different from the other three stories in the book. It may be because it's a female writer. They just approach the subject from a different direction. For one thing it's a lot less dark than the other three stories.

The final story is by Thomas E. Sniegoski. His series is about P.I. Remy Chandler, formerly known as the angel Remiel. In this world there are fallen angels and there are fallen angels. We know about the first variety, those who went to Hell. Remy is of the other variety, those who were banished from Heaven, but only to Earth. He's been trying to reject his angelic side and be more human. But the angelic side fights to come out and take over. It seems to be like a drug habit. He can also talk to and understand animals. For the most part he keeps it to just his dog.
In this story, Remy's wife recently died of cancer. He and his dog are out mourning at their cabin when another angel comes to tell him that someone murdered Noah. Remy tries to tell the angel to sod off, but that's not an acceptable answer. The investigation leads to the discovery of a third race created by God, one that was thought to have been wiped out in the flood.

I think I'll have to check in to some other books in this series.

I'd recommend the book. You're bound to like at least one of the four stories.

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