John Taylor's personal life has completely changed... but the Nightside really hasn't. And Simon R. Green gives us a rather bittersweet farewell to the Nightside series in "The Bride Wore Black," the final installment of his bestselling urban fantasy series -- one last detective story, wrapped up in the creepy, surreal atmosphere of London's dark side.
John Taylor is now the Walker, Suzie is pregnant, and they're about to be married. His new life doesn't really allow him to be a private eye, so he asks Cathy to find him one last case before he retires from PI work. His last case: find an immortality elixir stolen from the Anonymous Gentleman. But while he's prowling around the Ball of Forever, the King of Skin is murdered with a magical weapon.
But the night isn't over. A self-righteous hippie god left over from the 1960s is trying to make the sun rise over the Nightside, and the Authorities are determined to stop it. With the help of Julien Advent, John must find the Sun King and somehow stop him -- but when the Sun King turns the entire Nightside against John Taylor, he finds that saving the world might just get him killed this time.
There's a bittersweet quality to "The Bride Wore Black Leather" -- not only is the series ending, but a good chunk of the plot is devoted to John leaving his old life behind. And as he winds down the series, Green brings back a lot of favorite characters (Dead Boy, Razor Eddie, Cathy, the Bride of Frankenstein, Alex, Julien Advent and even a familiar dead face) and homages everything from X-Men to J.R.R. Tolkien.
And Green takes us on one last tour of the Nightside, with all the bizarre people (the Very Righteous Sisters of the Holy Druids), dangerous powers and wild places (The H. P. Lovecraft Memorial Library) he can dream up. And he still dreams up plenty of fun, snappy dialogue ("I don't think I'll leave the coat on its own. I haven't fed it recently"), as well as Lovecraftian horrors that could give you nightmares.
But the story twists in a darker direction after the stop by the hospice, when he shows the uglier side of the hippy-dippy Sun King, and John is forced to do something truly terrible. It all builds up to a final clash that is definitely one of Green's best pieces of writing.
John Taylor still occasionally name drops himself (which is a bit annoying). But for the most part he simply discovers that he can still hit rock bottom -- he learns the hard way that being the Walker and/or John Taylor may not be enough to protect him when he needs it most. It's not quite the most epic conflict we've seen in the Nightside, but it's a decent finale.
It's a little sad to say goodbye to all the weird, wild, disgusting stuff going on in the Nightside, but "The Bride Wore Black Leather" is a pretty enjoyable, satisfying farewell.