cover image The Dark Side of the Road

The Dark Side of the Road

Simon R. Green. Severn, $28.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8388-9

Veteran SF and fantasy author Green (Shadows Fall) introduces an unusual hard-boiled detective, Ishmael Jones (“Call me Ishmael”), in this brisk, breezy first in a new mystery series set in England. Jones’s boss, “the Colonel,” summons him to Belcourt Manor for a “personal favor” during the Christmas holidays. Jones drives from London through a blinding snowstorm to the manor, where he meets Jeeves, the butler, and the Colonel’s family and guests. Jones pays careful attention to the personal and professional troubles of this dysfunctional group, and his heightened senses soon indicate something foul is afoot. Once the occupants of Belcourt Manor are snowed in and phoneless, corpses start piling up. Convincing supernatural twists, witty chapter titles, and flirtations between Jones and the Colonel’s flinty stepsister, Penny, more than offset the book’s few didactic lapses. Jones is most engaging when he smells blood, and readers will be anxious for a sequel. (May)