Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Into the Thinnest of Air by Simon R. Green

First Sentence:  Back in Victorian times a certain Elliot Tyrone ran a very popular inn, the Castle.
Penny Belcourt has been invited to the reopening of Tyrone’s Castle in Cornwell.  Penny askes her partner Ishmael Jones, to accompany so that they might have a “perfectly normal weekend” together.  However, it seems that one of the inn’s legends may be more than a story as one-by-one, people disappear without a trace.  Is there something supernatural at work?  It’s up to Ishmael to find out before the night is over and everyone is gone.
A more intriguing opening or character I doubt you’ll find.  From the first pages, Green gives us both the history and the setting, and a completely unique character.  Unfortunately, he doesn't expand on it as the story progresses.
Green’s pays great attention to the details, both in terms of places—“Old-fashioned street lights were just coming on, their honey-yellow illumination shedding a pleasant glow across the scene.  It was like driving through the picture on the lid of a box containing a childhood jigsaw puzzle.”—and people—“He was smartly, if casually dressed, well into his forties, and almost entirely bald.  His face was smooth and shiny, his eyes were a faded blue, and his innkeeper’s smile didn’t waver once.  Perhaps only I would have noticed that it didn’t even come close to touching his eyes.”  He puts us into the story and makes it real.  His subtle humor lightens tense situations—“I gestured at the nearest open door. ‘Do you want to go in first, Penny?’  ‘After you,’ said Penny.  ‘And don’t be afraid to hit anything that moves.’  ‘Sounds like a plan to me,’ I said.”  
Starting a series with the newest book, rather than the first, puts pressure on the author to ensure new readers still have a sense of continuity with the primary characters.  In spite of the information at the beginning, one is left with the knowledge that there are a lot of details one is missing. Another issue is that if the characters are at risk, one should care about them.  Other than the protagonists, most of the characters here were so unpleasant, one doesn’t really care if they disappear, although that does change as the story progresses.  Another issue was that although there was the mystery of what was happening, there was also always the sense that there would be a perfectly logical explanation. 
The positives, however, where the clever method by which the disappearances were enacted and learning what, unpleasantly, happened to those who went missing.
Into the Thinnest of Air” is, by far, not Green’s best book.  For that, one should go to the “Nightside” series, instead.  While some of his strengths were there, the “well, maybe” aspect of his storytelling was missing.  Even so, it was an enjoyable, quick read.

INTO THE THINNEST OF AIR (Susp-Ishmael Jones-England-Contemp) - Okay
      Green, Simon R. – 5th in series
      Severn House – March 2018

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