I’ve talked about several Simon R. Green books on both here and previously in The Gatehouse Gazette as well but never about the third of his currently ongoing (well chronologically it’s the second, as he started with the Nightside, then started this one and then Ghost Finders) series set in this day and age: Secret History.
Meet Eddie Drood: supernatural spy, special agent, field agent for the mighty Drood family. The shepherds of the tribe, the guardians of humanity, the golden armoured protectors of all things good and holy against the stuff that goes bump in the night.
Eddie is part of a large family, the Droods that, for centuries, has watched over humanity for it’s own good, whether that’s what humanity wants or not. Everything for the family and all for the cause. It sounds simple enough, but as things go in the world of Simon R. Green, nothing is ever what it seems, and it definitely is never as straight forward as it seems.
For six books now the acclaimed author has spun tales of espionage, supernatural threats and intrigue starring this particular young Drood along with a motley crew of brilliant supporting characters: Eddie’s girlfriend, Molly Metcalf: the wild witch of the woods, Jack Drood the family armourer (and trust me, you’ve never seen an armoury like his), superfluous cousin Harry Drood and his half demon lover Roger Morningstar, and many, many others you’ll come to love or loathe.
Secret History is set in the same time and world as Ghost Finders and the Nightside, and occasionally occurrences and characters cross over from one setting into the other two. Rest assured though that it is not necessary to have read all three settings to be able to fully grasp what’s going on in this one. It helps for completion’s sake, but it’s that’s it. You may find yourself wanting to do so though, but that’s ok, there’s never an issue with reading more great books after all.
I would recommend reading them in the right order to fully grasp what’s going on though, because one book often does follow up on events of the previous one(s) and some have an open ending that is the start of the next issue in the series.
If you love 007 and other spy tales, you’ll probably love the Secret History series. It’s thrilling, exciting, with a good plot that keeps you reading, fast enough paced so it doesn’t get dull and there is enough humour present to keep it truly entertaining.
Before I start with my review of the latest, soon to be released, instalment in the series: Live and let Drood I’m going to bring people new to Secret History up to date on the events (without any real spoilers, rest assured) of the other four books.
We first meet Eddie in The Man with the Golden Torc where the reader gets the first insights in the inner workings of the Drood family and where we meet several of the characters that will be reoccurring in other books, some to more extend than others. Due to some unfortunate event, Eddie is declared rogue, on the run of his own kin and determined to clear his name and sort out, using every trick in the book whilst at it, not shunning the dirty ones of course.
In Daemons are Forever events of the previous book have brought Eddie at the head of his family, leading the Droods against demon races out to destroy life itself. To do that he has to team up with some unconventional allies, including a shady character often mentioned before in the Nightside series.
The third book follows a slightly different path, and is the only one in the series where Eddie doesn’t have Molly at his side for the full story. Independent Agent Alexander King, a legendary man in his own right is dying and wanting to leave his secrets to the best spy around. Therefore he has organised a competition, pitting the best of the best against each other. And naturally the Droods send in Eddie to compete. But of course, these games are never played by the rules. For the Nightside fans: one of the contesters in the game is Walker. Yes, _that_ Walker 😉 And yes it’s epic to see him outside of his usual nighttime habitat in The Spy who Haunted Me.
From Hell with Love is set, time wise, before the event in the 11th Nightside book A Hard Day’s Knight but it’s not necessary to have read that one, I’m just mentioning it for the sake of those that follow that series too and continuiency. Eddie is faced with murder in the family, he knows he didn’t do it, and popular opinion is either he did it, or his girlfriend Molly is the killer. And he knows she didn’t do it either. Events slowly unfold and he’s faced with a new enemy of at the very least the same proportions as his own family. The ending of this book is the setting introduction for the next one For Heaven’s Eyes Only, which time wise is set in between Nightside 12 The Bride wore Black Leather and Secret History 6 Live and Let Drood.
Humanity is threatened by Hell itself, as a new Satanic Conspiracy is ready to unleash the powers of the inferno onto the world. And yes of course, Armageddon is a threat the Droods have faced before in previous issues, but never quite like this or this organised. I particularly loved the pop culture references to Bloody Mallory (a French movie) and Doctor Who in this one. And when one of their own inner circle seems to have switched camps, things look very bleak for the Droods and humanity as a whole indeed…
Just like with book 4, the ending of this one is the direct start of the next one.
And that leaves us with the upcoming instalment in the series: Live and Let Drood. Aside from a couple of well hidden rogues, Eddie finds himself the last Drood. The Hall is destroyed, and he’s out for vengeance. When it turns out that Droods aren’t dead and merely missing in action (if you read the previous book you’ll catch on mighty fast about just what happened) Eddie goes for the throat, determined to see the Droods restored, questions answered and the unholy punished. As things should be. With Molly closely to his side they set out to do just that.
I have to say that I really enjoyed this story. It was nice to see a villain in proper Bond Villain style instead of some big organised evil containing many parts and characters. I also loved all the twists and turns, most of which were more than a little unexpected. My sole regret is the lack of Harry and Roger, whom I truly miss as characters in the series. Even when they weren’t present a lot, they really did add to the story in my opinion, if only by being there acting sarcastic and snooty.
But I digress.
This book wraps up a lot of questions raised and insinuations made in the previous instalments, with the clear hint that even more will be solved in the next book in the series: Casino Infernale. But instead of just casually dropping the shoe, the author goes out and does the effort of really building every little detail into the plot, adding greatly to the charm and overall appeal of the story.
Fans of the Ghost Finders series will be pleased to hear that Catherine Latimer makes an appearance in this story, but to find out what and how exactly you’ll have to read the book for yourself.
Live and Let Drood also sees the introduction of some funky new characters, who are hopefully here to stay, and a whole new department we hadn’t dealt with in any of the series before. And for who was wondering about the last Metcalf sister: the much talked about but never actually featured Louisa: well read the book and you shall wonder no more.
This is definitely one of the best books in the series so far, possibly the best. Because it’s quite different from the rest whilst still having all the elements that makes Secret History so fantastic.
It’s spy stories at their best: action packed, fast paced, the right amount of humour, brilliant pop culture references and the right amount of horror and violence. A plot that never bores, written in a way you just want to keep reading and characters that keep on surprising you.
A definite reading recommendation.