From Hell with Love: A Secret Histories Novel Mass Market Paperback – Jun 7 2011
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About the Author
Simon R. Green is a New York Times bestselling author whose works include Drinking Midnight Wine, Beyond the Blue Moon, Blue Moon Rising, The Adventures of Hawk & Fisher, and the Deathstalker series. A resident of Bradford-on-Avon in England, he is currently working on the next Deathstalker novel.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
PREVIOUSLY IN THE SECRET HISTORIES . . .
The name’s Bond. Shaman Bond.
You can mention that name anywhere in the darker parts of London, and someone will smile ruefully, or nod knowingly. Shaman Bond is a well-known face—always turning up when things get dangerous or a little bit weird; always ready for action, intrigue and a little illegal fun. Always there on the edges, where the games get strange and the night people dance to their own peculiar piper. Everyone at work or at play in society’s shadows knows Shaman Bond.
Except, they don’t.
I’m Eddie Drood, and Shaman Bond is just my use name—a mask for me to wear in public, to hide who and what I really am.
I’m a field agent for the ancient and mighty Drood family. We stand between Humanity and all the dark forces that threaten. We defend you from aliens and elves, mad scientists and their monsters, secret organisations and ancient inhuman enemies. Ever since my Druid ancestors first made contact with an other-dimensional entity called the Heart, who made them the protectors of Humanity by granting them incredible golden armour.
It was only very recently that I discovered the awful price my family paid for that armour, and was still paying, centuries later. I destroyed the Heart, to save my family’s soul. Now we have new armour, provided by a new other-dimensional entity. Called Ethel. I really don’t want to talk about that.
I saved the family from itself, and for my sins they put me in charge, but I was never happy with that much responsibility. First chance I got I dumped it all on someone else, and went back to being just a field agent again. One of the best, if I do say so myself.
But—the Man from U.N.C.L.E. had to contend with agents of THRUSH. James Bond had SPECTRE. So it really shouldn’t have come as such a surprise to me, that a family as ancient and powerful as mine might have its own very dark shadow . . .
The Return of Doctor Delirium
In the secret agent business, no one is necessarily who or what they say they are. It comes with the job, and the territory. Agents in the field collect names and identities the way normal people collect credit cards; and just like you, we all have to pay the cost when the bill comes due. Use names are common, if only to help us avoid the consequences of our actions. I’m Shaman Bond as often as I’m Eddie Drood. In fact, a lot of the time I think I prefer being Shaman; he doesn’t have the duties and responsibilities of being a Drood.
And it’s not just us poor bastards risking our lives out in the field—no organisation is ever what it appears to be, when seen from the outside. They all have levels within levels, inner circles and hidden agendas, and the left hand is never allowed to know who the right hand is killing. Like the onion, there are layers within layers within layers, and sometimes, just like the onion, we have no heart.
The Droods are a family, as well as an organisation. Anything for the family, we are taught to say, from a very early age. And if you can’t trust your family, who can you trust?
It’s always hot as hell in Los Angeles, but that’s just one of the reasons why the natives call it Hell A. On the one side you’ve got Hollywood, where all your dreams can come true, including all the really disappointing ones; and on the other side you’ve got Disneyland, where dreams are up for sale, or at least rent. And in between . . . there’s all the sin and avarice in the world, just waiting for you to put a foot wrong. Everyone who matters turns up in LA eventually, because LA is a city that deals in temptation. Especially for the kind of people who like to think they’re above the laws and moral constraints that operate in the rest of the world. Las Vegas deals in money, New York deals in deals, but LA deals in sin.
Hollywood is the town where people will sell their soul for a three picture deal; or a sit down with a big name producer; or just for a walk-on in a popular sitcom. Hardly surprising, then, that the place is full of people ready to buy as well as sell. You can buy anything in LA, if you’re prepared to pay the price. Dreams come cheap in Hollywood, because there’s a glut on the market.
I arrived in Los Angeles on a commercial air flight, under the Shaman Bond name. Business class, so as not to draw attention. You have to keep up the character, as well as the name, and Shaman Bond had never gone first class in his life. Ordinarily, I would have simply activated the Merlin Glass, and stepped from the family Hall in England to my destination in Los Angeles, but apparently using a major magical item that powerful would set off all kinds of alarm bells, among all the wrong people. And since I was supposed to be operating under the radar on this one, I did it the hard way. And made a point of keeping all my receipts. The family’s been coming down really hard on expense claims recently; just because a few of us have been known to be a little . . . creative, on occasion.
And I am here to tell you, fourteen hours cooped up in a plane gives you a whole new insight into air rage.
To my surprise, Los Angeles turned out to look exactly like it does on all the television shows. Brilliant blue sky, towering palm trees, more fast-moving traffic than the mind can comfortably cope with, and a sun so hot it’s like stepping into a blast furnace. My bare skin actually smarted from contact with the sunlight, so I grabbed the nearest taxi and told the very laid-back driver to take me to the Magnificat Hotel in Anaheim.
The driver just grunted, took a long drag on his hand-rolled, and steered the taxi straight into the thundering traffic with a casual disregard for road safety, and indeed survival, that took my breath away. The driver was big and black and uncommunicative. He’d covered the inside of his cab with assorted voodoo charms, pictures of the saints, and a whole bunch of severed chicken feet. More feathers and fetishes dangled from the roof. I would have settled for one of those little green pine things. I wondered whether I should inform the driver that I knew for a fact more than half his collection was complete and utter bullshit. I decided against it.
I was going to Anaheim, not Hollywood. Anaheim is on the whole other side of town, as far as you can get from the glamour and the ballyhoo and still be in the same city. There was a Disneyland park, which I hoped to visit if I got the chance. If only to chat up Snow White. (Boyhood crushes are a terrible thing.) Still, despite all my best intentions, I was just a bit overawed at being in a city I knew only from films and television. We passed off-ramp signs, for places like Echo Beach and Mulholland Drive, names the whole world knew. It was like seeing road signs to Narnia and Oz.
I was in Los Angeles to meet up with the local field agent, Luther Drood. I didn’t know the man, but then, it’s a large family, and field agents by their very nature don’t come home much. In fact, it’s the reason why most of us become field agents. Luther had made Los Angeles his home for more than twenty years, and despite all the good work he’d done, there was always the chance he’d gone native. Nothing like being a big fish in a small pond to make you forget all about the sharks who operate in the larger world.
I was supposed to meet Luther at the Magnificat, the single biggest hotel in LA, opening tomorrow morning in a gala ceremony at nine a.m., sharp. But Luther and I had business to attend to in the Magnificat today, and how we got on would decide whether there would be any grand opening tomorrow. Whenever possible, I like to get in, do the job, and get out again without being noticed, but given the nature of the job, sometimes fire, general mayhem and extensive property damage are just unavoidable side effects.
The taxi driver fixed me in his rearview mirror with his calm, steady gaze. “So, man, are you an actor, or a writer?”
“Neither,” I said firmly.
There was a long pause, as he tried to get his head around such a novel concept. “Hell, man, everyone here is either an actor, or a writer. Or a producer. Everything else is just what you do to pay the bills, till the big break comes around. You’re a Brit, right? Love the accent. You guys make the best villains . . . So, are you a producer? Because I got this killer screenplay, guaranteed to do major business. All about this guy who can turn invisible, but only when he’s naked . . . You don’t like that one? Okay, how about this for high concept— James Bond meets Alien!”
“Been there, done that,” I said. “Just drive.”
And there must have been something in my voice, because he sniffed loudly, shut up, and fixed his gaze on the road ahead. He turned his music up loud, which seemed to consist mainly of bass beats, heavy grunts and extensive use of the word “ho.” I didn’t think it had anything to do with the song from Snow White. Unless one of the dwarves was called Shouty.
We hadn’t been driving long before we hit hard traffic. Every lane was full, in every direction, and everyone had ground to a halt. There was a lot of bad-tempered horn abuse, and even more harsh language. My driver just sat back in his seat and rolled up another fat one, quite content to sit there as long as it took, and watch his fare rise. I wasn’t. I had work to be about, and a deadline to meet. So I got out of the taxi, paid off the driver, (including a tip nicely calculated to spoil his whole day without inciting actual violence), and walked up the highway, strolling in and out of the parked cars. And no one saw me, because I had armoured up and invoked stealth mode.
The marvellous armour of the Droods flowed out of the golden torc around my throat, and covered me in a moment from head to toe, like a second skin. The awful heat was cut off in a moment, the unbreathable smog was filtered into air fresh as a spring morning, and I felt stronger, smarter, and fully alive for the first time. And, more importantly, I was pretty much invulnerable to anything the world could throw at me. (I say pretty much, because no one’s actually tested it against a nuclear blast, or a full-on faerie curse . . . but the family Armourer was working on that.) With the armour in stealth mode, I couldn’t be seen by anyone or anything, including all kinds of electronic surveillance. (I’ve never been too sure how that actually works; presumably the torc rewrites the signal, to edit me out. The Armourer did try to explain how the strange matter in my torc works, and I had to go and lie down in a darkened room for several hours.)
I strolled in and out of the parked cars, resisting the urge to strike down some of the louder and more obnoxious drivers with an invisible fist round the ear, and quickly decided it was in everyone’s best interests if I got out of there as fast as possible. So I broke into a run, moving faster and faster as the incredible strength of my armoured legs kicked in. The cars became just a blur as I got up to speed, shooting in and out of gaps in a split second, thanks to my speeded-up reflexes. I was laughing into my featureless golden mask now, arms pumping easily at my sides as I really hit my stride. The world was just a smear of colours, every sound dopplering down behind me, and I wasn’t even breathing hard. My family has the best toys in the world.
Soon enough I was past the pileup that had caused all the congestion, and was sprinting in and out of moving traffic. Cars and trucks and bikes roared along, filling all the lane space available, and I had to slow down or risk running right over them. Reflexes are great, but they’re no match for an idiot behind the wheel, of which Los Angeles has more than its fair share. I got fed up dodging drivers who changed lane with no warning and no signal, so I waited for a lengthy articulated to come along, raced along beside it to match speeds, and then jumped up onto its roof. My armoured legs sent me flying through the air, and then absorbed the impact on landing so completely the articulated’s driver never even knew I was there. I struck a heroic pose that no one could see, just because, and surfed the articulated all the way to Anaheim.
I got hit by an awful lot of insects, but the armour just absorbed them.
When we finally got to Anaheim, I switched from vehicle to vehicle, riding the roofs as I followed the street map I’d memorised, and jumped off a block short of the Magnificat. I found a quiet side street, and armoured down when no one was looking. And just like that, I was just another tourist, wandering happily down the street. The air was blisteringly hot again, and so thick with pollution you could practically chew the stuff, but that’s what you get for living in the real world. No one paid me any attention as I joined the throng in the main street, heading for the Magnificat. There’s nothing memorable in my appearance. I’ve gone to great pains to appear to be just another face in the crowd. Field agents are trained to blend in, and not be noticed. It’s a useful skill for a field agent, not looking like anyone in particular. The last thing you want in this business is to be noticed or remembered.
Even when I was still a long way off, I could see the Magnificat Hotel. It was the tallest building for miles, a massive steel and glass block that towered over everything else, effortlessly dominating the scene without a single trace of character or style in its appearance. The neon sign with the hotel’s name was almost brutally ugly. Everything about the building shouted that it was there to serve a purpose, nothing more. All very efficient, but a total pain in the arse to look at. Ugly buildings are like ugly women—you can’t help feeling someone should have made more of an effort. I said this to my girlfriend Molly once, and she hit me. I’ve got a lot more careful about what I say out loud since I acquired a girlfriend. I still think things, though. Sometimes very loudly.
Luther Drood was already there, waiting. He looked exactly like the photo in his file, except even more tanned, if that were possible. Luther was a tall, heavily built man in his late forties, wearing a baggy Hawaiian shirt over blindingly white shorts, and a pair of designer flip-flops. He had a broad, lined face, with close-cut grey hair and a bushy grey moustache. He was standing right in the middle of the sidewalk, staring at nothing, smoking a large cigar as though it was the most important thing in his world. But people just walked right past him, paying him no attention at all . . . because he had a mobile phone at his ear. Those things are a godsend to the modern agent—the perfect excuse for just standing around, doing nothing.
Luther saw me approaching, put his phone away, and nodded easily to me. As though he saw me every day of the week. Typical LA native: cool and calm and so laid back it was a wonder he didn’t fall over. I stopped before him, gave him my own very cool and collected nod, threw in a quick smile for good measure, and offered him my hand. He clasped my pale offering in his large bronzed hand, and gave it a quick meaningless LA shake.
“Hi,” he said, in a deep and apparently sincere voice. “Welcome to LA. I’m Philip Harlowe.”
I gave him a look. “Does that fool anyone?”
“Does Shaman Bond?” He allowed me a small tight smile. He still hadn’t removed his cigar from his mouth. “Everyone knows use names are fakes, but the kind of people we have to deal with are only ever comfortable with masques and illusions. So better a false ID you know is fake, than a seemingly real name you know you can’t trust.”
“But we’re family,” I said. “You’re Luther and I’m . . .”
“Please.” He stopped me with a raised hand. “Everyone in the family, and everyone in the field, knows Eddie Drood. Your reputation proceeds you—like an oncoming missile.” He took a map out of his back pocket, and unfolded it. “Look at this. It isn’t important or even relevant, but maps make excellent cover. No one pays any attention to two tourists studying a map.”
He had a point. I stood beside him, and looked at the Magnificat over the top of the map. Luther finally removed his cigar, just for a moment, and blew a perfect smoke ring. If my Molly had been there, she would have turned it into a perfect square, just to put him in his place. I settled for giving him a hard look.
“I thought tobacco was forbidden in this health conscious, zero tolerance paradise?”
“That’s cigarettes,” Luther said easily. “Cigars are different. Only important people smoke cigars, and no one bothers important people in LA. Even a complete health nazi will light your cigar for you, if they thought you could get them a meeting.”
“My worst fears are realised,” I said sadly. “You’ve gone native.”
He raised an eyebrow. I’d never seen so much work go into the creation of such a bitingly sardonic gesture. I felt like applauding.
“At least I still serve the family,” said Luther. “I’ve never tried to run it. Or run away from it.”
I sighed, plucked the cigar out of his mouth, dropped it on the ground and stamped on it. Luther made a shocked, pained sound, as though I’d just shot his dog. I gave him my very best hard glare.
“Do you have a problem with my being here, Luther?”
Top Customer Reviews
But what can they do about an organized "Anti-Drood" organization that is as old as they are, and has spies in their ranks? Simon R. Green tackles that weighty idea in "From Hell With Love," his fourth Secret Histories novel -- a sometimes confusing tangle of magical battles, shapeshifters, spies and impending world destruction.
First off, Eddie is sent to L.A. to stop the small-time villain Dr. Delirium at a magical auction... only to have Delirium make off with the aptly-named Apocalypse Door. And after he returns back to the Droods' vast mansion, the Matriarch is brutally murdered in her bed, throwing the Droods into mass confusion and chaos -- as well as a berserker rage that causes them to attack Molly.
Eddie suspects that the mysterious Immortals -- an ancient clan who have served as the "anti-Droods" throughout history -- are behind it all, but the Drood Library is suspiciously devoid of information on then. The Immortals have slipped "flesh-dancing" spies into the Droods' ranks, and plan to destroy the Droods and harness the Door's power... unless Eddie destroys them first.
We have Springheel Jack, a woman immortalized by endless waking, a talking dragon head, the Spawn of Frankenstein and a Droodlike family of immortal sociopaths. Yeah, this is definitely a Simon R. Green book. But "From Hell With Love" is a darker story than the previous Secret Histories novels -- especially since the Droods suffer the biggest losses we've seen yet.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Simon R. Green's audacious, go for broke schtick never gets old for me, although he's done this over and over in his writing career. As always, one of his chapters presents enough wild ideas to satisfy other fiction authors for an entire book. I even like that Green occasionally inserts these bits of non-sequitur, some past adventure or anecdote which has nothing to do with the current story thread, and yet they serve to flesh out Eddie Drood's very improbable world. Green jampacks his books with widescreen and extremely violent acts of derring-do (my favorite action bit may be of how Eddie disposes of one frightening dragon), and Green's all over the place in terms of introducing vile, loathly creatures in need of slaying and despicable arcane artifacts in need of safeguarding or destroying. A villain in the piece is one of those patented mad scientists, but this one historically had been more of a low-rent nuisance than a bonafide threat. Except now Doctor Delirium has gotten a hold of the Apocalypse Door. But Doctor Delirium would turn out to be the least of Eddie Drood's concerns. Returning from his eff-up in Los Angeles, Eddie's world is topsy-turvied by a murder of devastating consequences. For one thing, it implicates his wild witch girlfriend, Molly Metcalf. And for the Drood family, the other shoe finally drops. Although, as crazy things have been happening to the Droods of late, this is probably, like, the fifth other shoe to drop. But it's a big one.
The Drood family had been working in the shadows for who knows how long now, striving to keep the world safe from harm, staving off apocalypse time and again. Because of the vast networks accessible to the Droods, they have become the de facto secret rulers of the world. Or, if not exactly ruling the world, at least influencing it behind the curtain. In this volume Simon R. Green unveils the flip side to the Droods. There have always been murmurs circulating amongst the unnatural world, this unfounded urban myth, about a malignant race of Immortals. Eddie Drood comes to find that the Immortals are worryingly real, that they are in fact the dark counterparts to the Droods. Worse, that while the Droods had been covertly putting their stamp on history, the Immortals had infiltrated the Droods and had been all along pulling the strings. This makes the Drood family vulnerable to an attack from within. And you know it happens.
I think it's cool that Green seems to be be placing his various series into this one shared reality. The prior entry in the Secret Histories, THE SPY WHO HAUNTED ME, featured John Walker from the Nightside series, and here Green makes further mention of Nightside and even of Shadows Fall. And, in DAEMONS ARE FOREVER, he'd even found a way to tie in the Deathstalker books. That is some comprehensive world building.
Moorcock to Lumley to Green. British authors who deal in lovely bombastic storytelling. Just about everyone of Simon R. Green's characters are stylish and larger than life, each prone to speaking in hyperbole or making grandiose statements, and our protagonist is as guilty of this as anyone. When an enslaved kobold tries to put Eddie in his place, Eddie, in the middle of storming the enemy's stronghold, airily declares: "I'm a Drood. Other people do the dying." Green's characters are so dipped in ego they should just all become television wrestlers.
The writer isn't so keen to inject character development, but, oboy, are there plenty of plot developments. Still, how can you not get curious about folks with fetching names like the Armourer, the Waking Beauty, Springheel Jack, and, er, Ethel? Simon R. Green continues to spin tales rife with super-science and eldritch magics and also the occasional dark humor. Eddie Drood's adventures continue to achieve this grand scale. The Secret Histories aren't my favorite books by this author (that would be BLUE MOON RISING and SHADOWS FALL). The Secret Histories fall just a tier below on my list, and Eddie Drood isn't as contemplative or rich in character as Prince Rupert or Owen Deathstalker. But he's grown on me, and irregardless of that alarming cliffhanger ending, I'm assured he'll be back in the next sequel FOR HEAVEN'S EYES ONLY. Okay, if there's one thing I can't stand about this series, it's those cheesily cheesy book titles.
This series though has rapidly become my favorite. The Drood family protects us all, they are the secret masters of the world and Edwin Drood, known as Shaman Bond to his friends and Eddie to the people who love him is a family rebel who really does want to protect people, even from his family. Various events have made the family aware there is another family that's been around as long as they have, and they aren't friendly. I don't like doing summaries of books because sometimes they give away too much of the plot.
I liked it. Green can be a bit predictable as a writer, but it makes him reliably enjoyable if you do like his work. I've liked the relationships in all his books, but Molly Metcalf is my favorite of all his romantic leading ladies. This book can stand alone, but you'll probably prefer to read from the beginning if you haven't and get to know the characters.
This story takes place shortly after the Griffins die in the Nightside in Hell to Pay (Nightside, #7).
Think James Bond and an assortment of Spectres, just with a supernatural bent with a slight crossover with characters from the Nightside. The Droods have the best toys!
"The Droods are the ultimate power, they think, in the world with their own private landing areas at all major airports around the world. "Major governments, organizations, and significant individuals the world over" let them do what they want and the Droods promise to leave them alone."
We do find out who some traitors are within the family along with some of what they're responsible for.
Oh, that Molly: "I'm starting to feel like she's the only sensible one here, and I'm not used to that."
I'd be worrying about Ethel having to think about how deceitful humans are...
There's a major artifact auction being put on by the Really Old Curiosity Shoppe at the about-to-open Magnificat Hotel and Eddie Drood has arrived to "pick up" a few things and prevent Doctor Delirium from getting the Apocalypse Door. Worse, the Family doesn't know that the Door is a true entry into Hell that could let loose Hell's inhabitants. Neither Eddie nor Luther think it will be a problem, with the Drood armor, of penetrating the many layers of security enwrapping the hotel. The problem could be the two opposing sets of mercenaries who suddenly pop in through dimensional doors!
Three events set the Drood Family and Eddie on this particular warpath: a sneering remark from a captured, dying enemy; a link Molly has discovered between the Droods and the death of her parents; and, an assassination inside Drood Hall.
One or more traitors are hidden within the Drood family, and it's time to find out who before they take down the family.
Eddie Drood, a.k.a., Shaman Bond, is a field agent for the Drood family based in London. Molly Metcalf is his witchy girlfriend and her goal in life is to find out who killed her parents. Isabella is her sister, "a supernatural terrorist, twilight avenger, and so hardcore in her convictions she could scare the wings off an angel". Louisa is the youngest sister. She's been dead seven years now and it hasn't held her back.
Martha Drood is the Matriarch of the Droods, Eddie's grandmother. She rules the family with an Advisory Council consisting of Uncle Jack, the Armourer who has way too much fun in his workshop (think James Bond's Q); William is the whacko Librarian with Rafe as his assistant (and nanny); Cousin Harry is still plotting for his own gain with his partner, Roger Morningstar, the half-demon, his half-brother, AND his lover; there's still a Cedric as Serjeant-at-Arms, but he's sneakier than his predecessor; and, you just can't keep Ethel out of anything. Other significant Droods include Callan, who is the Head of the War Room and adjusting to his new torc; Howard is in charge of Operations; and, there's something in the Old Library that watches over William. Alistair is the Matriarch's second husband and he's been in a coma forever. Iorith is a new assistant to help William. Luther Drood is their Los Angeles agent and Eddie is worried that he's gone native.
The Bride is attending a Spawn of Frankenstein reunion at the Castle Hotel near Castle Frankenstein in Germany along with her boyfriend Springheel Jack. Baron Frankenstein, an Immortal, tries to infiltrate the reunion, but the Spawn aren't having it.
Doctor Delirium is a smalltime mad scientist with his own army who occasionally pops up to threaten the world with some plague or another. Timothy Drood, a.k.a., Tiger Tim, is Uncle James' son and he went rogue years ago, psychotic. The Lampton Wyrm is a seriously powerful dragon. Dom Langford is a mercenary who chose the wrong side.
Methuselah is the Leader of the Immortals. And he's bored.
The Droods sprang from a Druid back at the beginning, almost, of time who made a deal with the Heart, an alien entity, that had a horrific requirement. Eddie destroyed the Heart and has a new, more benign deal with Ethel, another alien entity. The Droods have since watched over the world, ensuring that nothing too horrible occurs and they are feared by all--"aliens, elves, mad scientists and their monsters, secret organizations, and ancient inhuman enemies". The Anti-Droods are the Immortals. A human reached the Heart first and made his own deal. Since then, the Immortals have manipulated history and the Droods for their own profit.
The cover is cold and snowy with Molly and Eddie prepared to close the beautifully carved Apocalypse door and its doorframe as it begins to open.
The title plays off the James Bond movie, From Russia with Love, as well as a nickname for Los Angeles, Hell A, so hullo, it's From Hell with Love where our adventure begins.
I absolutely love the over the top characters and situations that Eddie finds himself dealing with. This is a great book to sit back, grab some popcorn, and dig into. There's always a bunch of twists and turns - every one of them bigger and twistier than the next. All the characters are larger than life and none as much so as Eddie. I find his adventures to be entertaining and I love the one-liners! I love this series and, of course, the shticky takes on the James Bond film titles as book titles.
Secret Histories Series: The Man with the Golden Torc (1), Daemons are Forever (2), The Spy Who Haunted Me (3), From Hell with Love (4), For Heaven's Eyes Only (5), Live and Let Drood (6)