cover image Shadows Fall

Shadows Fall

Simon R. Green. Roc, $5.99 (448pp) ISBN 978-0-451-45363-1

Shadows Fall is an extraordinary town where legends--human and otherwise--go to live out their days as belief in them dies. Comic superheroes who never achieved true fame mingle with rock 'n' roll stars who died young; dinosaurs roam the park at night. It is a setting with great potential. Unfortunately, Green ( Blue Moon Rising ) for the most part foregoes developing it in favor of simply adding to it, mixing in faeries, saints and other fantastic elements. As the novel begins, a serial killer stalks the town. It's up to mayor Rhea Frazier, the revenant Leonard Ash, rock 'n' roller Sean Morrison and James Hart, whose return to town has triggered an old prophecy, to unmask the killer and deal with an unprecedented attack on Shadows Fall by outsiders. The drama of their battle, however, is undermined by thin characterizations, stilted dialogue and scenes that read like farce. Too much goes unexplained (how exactly do the outsiders breach the town's defenses?). Green invokes some powerful mythologies, but cripples the impact of climactic scenes with off-key, atmosphere-jarring wisecracks (``I'm here to kill Time as in Father Time, but there's no hurry''). Ultimately this fantasy would have been more successful had the author done more with a bit less, spinning a richer story from fewer threads. (June)