The Spy Who Haunted Me, by Simon R. Green

July 10, 2009

spyIn The Spy Who Haunted Me (the third book in Green’s Secret Histories series) Edwin Drood enters a competition organized by the Alexander King, the legendary Independent Agent. The group of gathered spies must work together to solve some of the world’s greatest mysteries, but only one of them can claim the prize – the secret knowledge accumulated by King during his career. There’s also a literal deadline. Alexander King is terminally ill, so if the victor doesn’t return quickly enough then King’s secrets could go with him to the grave. Edwin believes that only the Drood family can be trusted with what the Independent Agent knows. But he’s not the only one determined to win at any cost, which becomes clear once the competitors start dying.

I really enjoyed the first two books in this series, but this one doesn’t have quite the same high-stakes feel because Edwin never seems in over his head. Having the group look into so many different situations in one book makes things a bit disjointed. The scenes where they visit an abandoned Russian science city are fantastic, and the sections about the Philidelphia Experiment and Loch Ness were also entertaining. But the deep woods investigation was disappointing and there were some unanswered questions left hanging about Roswell.

This book also includes Walker, from Green’s Nightside novels. The previous Secret Histories book also used a character from another Green series, but this time it just didn’t work for me. I guess that we’re used to seeing Walker from John Taylor’s point of view, but his characterization felt so different that it almost didn’t seem like the same man at all.

This series came along at just the right time for me, because I thought the Nightside stories had started to feel a bit worn. But I’m starting to wonder if I’m getting a bit tired of Green’s style in general. He has really imaginative settings and situations, but I’m becoming less fond of the constant asides about dangerous people with quirky nicknames and/or colorful epithets. Maybe I’m just getting picky, but they’re starting to get repetitive. I hope the next book ramps the action back up a little, gives the main character more of a challenge, and cuts back on the tendency for every minor character to have a string full of adjectives.

Minor annoyances aside, I’m still recommending this series to any urban fantasy fan who likes a good dose of action, the first book is The Man With the Golden Torc.

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2 Responses to “The Spy Who Haunted Me, by Simon R. Green”

  1. alana Says:

    I felt the same way actually. I found myself getting annoyed at the way Edwin kept lecturing everyone. (Green sure does know how to write main characters who love the sound of their own voices.)

    I also thought the ending was a bit anti-climatic.

  2. deety Says:

    Yeah, it sometimes felt like the other people in the group were basically there as cannon fodder. I think that the lectures start as a way for Green to work in all the side stories, but they do get overdone – and you’re right that they make his heroes start to sound alike.

    And there are only so many times that we can hear unrelated tidbits about Drood achievements or various Nightside personalities before it starts to get tiring.


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