Series: SECRET HISTORIES/EDDIE DROOD SERIES
Plot Type: Urban Fantasy (UF)
Ratings: Violence—4-5, Sensuality—3, Humor—4
Publisher and Titles: Roc
The Man with the Golden Torc (6/2007)
Daemons Are Forever (6/2009)
The Spy Who Haunted Me (2010)
From Hell with Love (6/2010)
For Heaven's Eyes Only (6/2011)
Dr. DOA (6/7/2016)
> Moonbreaker: Did you ever wonder who killed all the Droods at The Other Hall [in Live and Let Drood]? Did you ever wonder what he would do; when he came to this world?
> Night Fall: The Droods have had enough. They invade the Nightside, to bring it under their direct control, and make everyone play nice. You realize; this means war.
NOVEL 10: Dr. DOA
In the first chapter (entitled "Who Knows What the Future Holds?"), Eddie turns introspective: "I have known good luck and bad, triumphs and tragedies, and the love of a woman worth loving. I've lived. But I should have remembered the one certain lesson that life teaches. Nothing lasts, Every story comes to an end, and the curtain falls on every one of us. Because there's nothing you can build that the world can't tear down. My name is Eddie Drood, and I am a dead man walking." While I was sad to hear Eddie's bad news, I did get a kick out of the manner in which Green stuffed so many facing-death-bravely-but-dramatically clichés into Eddie's clenched-jaw speech. So perfect!
The story begins with the new Matriarch (aka Maggie the former head gardener) sending Eddie and Molly to infiltrate a new information-selling organization called Cassandra Inc. whose Secret Headquarters is situated on a gigantic aircraft carrier that is flying far above the clouds. During this mission, the daring duo manages to get safely to the flight deck, only to be confronted by the Manichean Monk—one of the good-guy troubleshooters from Eddie's past—who for unknown reasons tries to kill Eddie. Unfortunately, in thwarting the assassination attempt, Eddie is forced to throw the Monk over the edge to his death, thus violating his pledge never to kill again. (Pay attention, this is a key fact.) Then, Eddie and Molly break into the Cassandra offices below decks, run into and escape from a few dangerous booby traps, gather some information, rescue an angel from a silver-barred cage, fight some bad guys, destroy the ship, and head home. But before they leave, the angel warns Eddie that he sees death hanging over him and that he should beware of the Merlin Glass (two more key facts to remember).
As chapter two begins, Eddie and Molly teleport back to Drood Hall, where Eddie promptly faints. When he regains consciousness, he gets the bad news about the deadly poison, and his search for Dr. DOA begins. He also needs to find out who hired Dr. DOA to kill him. In each chapter, Eddie gets a new clue about a person/organization/creature who might be able to help him in his search. This means that in each and every chapter Eddie and Molly follow roughly the same pattern as they do in chapter one:
>> Find a person/organization/creature who might have useful information.
>> Fight off attacks involving deadly spells, booby traps, monstrous creatures, and/or armed guards.
>> Get threatened by another former friend who swears that Eddie must die because he is a Drood—always saying the exact threatening words and phrases as the Monk who made the first attempt on Eddie's life (in chapter one).
>> Become involved in a brief adventure that is generally unrelated to the search.
>> Realize that this person/organization/creature has no idea how to find Dr. DOA.
In each adventure, Green provides his signature droll descriptions of the weird and wonderful inhabitants of each new group that Eddie and Molly confront. Also included are lots of battle scenes with Eddie armouring up and Molly casting wild spells against their various enemies. Although this gets a bit repetitious at times, Green's creature descriptions are always entertaining, and Eddie and Molly generally keep up their humorously snarky dialogue even in the heat of battle.>> the name of a new person/organization/creature that might help in the quest for the doctor and/or a cure.
As Eddie and Molly travel from adventure to adventure, Eddie begins to feel his health failing, and he begins to despair of finding the doctor and getting an antidote in time to save his life. Molly, too, is having a hard time keeping a stiff upper lip about this whole death thing. Both she and Eddie keep up their usual humorous verbal sniping at one another, but it's plain to see that their hearts aren't really in it. It's tough to see Eddie on the downside of life because he has always been one to stride into battles with confidence in his own immortality. As each clue fails to pan out, he is forced to face the fact that he may very well be living the last days of his life. (Obviously, there are two more novels, so he has more than a few days, but he doesn't know that.)
And now a brief word about the ending, which is the most over-the-top, mind-blowing cliff-hanger in the entire series. I'm still not quite sure how I feel about that ending, except to say that the resolution of the Dr. DOA mystery seems to come out of nowhere until you think back to a few clues provided back in chapter one and to an unresolved issue in novel six. This ending changes everything for Eddie and the Drood family, and it's going to be hard to wait an entire year to find out what happens next.
Green has always been a great storyteller with a penchant for weird creatures, snide dialogue, brisk action scenes, and dysfunctional family relationships—all of which are found in abundance in Dr. DOA. If you are a regular reader of the series, you won't want to miss this one because of the pivotal ending. If you are new to the series, don't start here because Green brings back many secondary characters from previous books, and you won't understand who they are and how they relate to Eddie's past. To read an excerpt from Dr. DOA, click HERE to go to the novel's Amazon.com page and click on the cover art.
FULL DISCLOSURE: My review of Dr. DOA is based on an electronic advance reading copy (ARC) of the book that I received from the publisher through NetGalley. I received no promotional or monetary rewards, and the opinions in this honest review are strictly my own.
Here is Eddie's description of what the Drood family stands for: "The Droods...guard the whole world. We are Humanity's shepherds, their shamans and protectors. All of this country's departments working together couldn't do what we do...Droods have field agents in every country and in every major city; there isn't a country or a culture on this planet that doesn't fall under our protection...It's our job to stand between Humanity and all the nonhuman things that threaten us." (Live and Let Drood, p. 160)
Set in England, this series boasts a wide variety of villains, all of whom are trying to bring down the Droods. Eddie and his girlfriend, Molly Metcalf (the wild witch of the woods), battle evil monsters in nearly every scene. The reader occasionally feels trapped in a rather violent video game, with bizarre supernatural creatures constantly attacking from all sides. The humor is dry and understated and frequently whimsical.
Here are two samples of Green's humor, along with one of the Dickens-on-steroids names he routinely attaches to secondary characters:
Eddie muses on the annoying quirks of his family members: "When it comes to trying your patience, my family could make Mother Teresa drink vodka straight from the bottle while drop-kicking a leper." (For Heaven's Eyes Only, p. 80)
Eddie and Molly are approaching the isolated cottage of Ammonia Vom Acht, a powerful and very scary telepath who can rip out a person's deepest secrets in a moment's time: "The cottage loomed up before us like a dentist's waiting room; it might look pleasant enough, but you know there's trouble ahead." (For Heaven's Eyes Only, p. 145)
SUMMARIES OF THE FIRST FOUR NOVELS
In Daemons Are Forever , Eddie is now in charge of the Drood family, and he must redeem them from the damage that has been done by their many lies. Since Eddie wants to prove to the world that the Droods are as strong as ever, he goes after the Loathly Ones, soul eaters who are one of the greatest enemies of humanity. But the situation goes from bad to worse when the Hungry Gods descend from a higher dimension, intent of consuming every living thing in the world.
Eddie's adventures always include a plethora of weird and wonderful monsters, from demon dogs to dragons to hallways that turn into gigantic living throats, and more. Green spends a lot of time describing these battles. For example, Eddie's first fight with the Satanists in For Heaven's Eyes Only covers about 40 pages. Both the monsters and the various fighting techniques are fully described—sometimes to point that the reader (this reader, anyhow) is flipping pages to get back to the real plot. I do enjoy reading about Eddie and the other Droods, but I have to admit that the constant monster fights are beginning to get old. With the ending of the latest book, however, my interest is piqued, and I'll read on.
The plot is nicely constructed, with just enough convolution to keep it interesting, although several of the plot points are so heavily foreshadowed that the reader picks up on them way before Eddie does. An early scene with the Drood scarecrows is superfluous to the rest of the plot, but Green always enjoys adding yet another type of weird creature to his novels, so I'll give him a pass on this one. On the other hand, I really enjoyed the back story of the Uptown Razor Boys (aka Eton Irregulars)—a sly bit of English social commentary. The various battles go on a bit too long (as usual), but if you get tired of reading through the somewhat repetitious fights, just mentally substitute the words "Bam! Boom! Gaaaah! Pow! Bonk! Argghhh! Hack! Wham!"—and then scan quickly to the end of the scene. It works for me.
NOVEL 7: Casino Infernale
At the end of book 6, Eddie Drood turned his back on his lying, scheming, secret-keeping family and went to work for the Department of the Uncanny, which is headed by his long-lost grandfather, the Regent of Shadows. Eddie's first mission—along with his girlfriend and partner, Molly Metcalf—is to transport themselves to a small island in the Norwegian Sea (north of Scotland) to learn who killed Molly's parents. This leads them into an adventure involving a deserted mansion with a Fairy Circle, a small group of eccentrics who call themselves the White Horse Faction, and a villain who will do anything to keep his whereabouts secret from the world. Oh yes, and there's also a snow-white equine god who is the key to the entire situation.
After Molly and Eddie learn the truth about her parents' death from the island villain, they head back to confront the Regent, but are high-jacked by Eddie's Uncle Jack, who insists that they accompany him to a meeting on Mars (Yes..the planet!) to take care of some Drood business. It seems that the world is on the brink of a major supernatural war over the mysterious inheritance of the villainous Crow Lee (who was killed by Eddie and Molly in the previous book). The Droods have called for a Summit Meeting of the most powerful members of the supernatural community to figure out how to stop the war. Eventually, they decide to destroy the Shadow Bank, which will seriously undermine the economic base of the powers involved in Inheritance War. To that end, they send Eddie and Molly to break the bank at the notorious Casino Infernale, which supports the Shadow Bank, so that the Bank won't be able to fund the war. The remaining 60% of the plot follows Molly and Eddie (in the disguise of Shaman Bond) as they go through a series of "games" that could have been part of The Hunger Games...or even the Roman Gladiator Games.
Shaman and Molly take turns competing against a group of otherworldly, mostly psychotic players, assisted by Frankie (another one of Uncle James' half-breed offspring) and the Scarlet Lady, the sarcastically sentient 1958 Plymouth Fury we met in the previous book. Once again, the eccentric characters with their even more eccentric names and the trash-talking dialogue are the source of much of the humor. Don't let the humor fool you, though, these books are quite violent because Eddie and Molly usually are forced to kill their opponents—sometimes in quite grisly ways. The element of the plot that is the most interesting is the fact that while he is in the Casino, Eddie has no torc—and therefore no armour. For the first time in his life, he must rely solely on his wits and his human fighting skills. It's a humbling experience for Eddie.
NOVEL 8: Property of a Lady Faire
Why are Eddie and his girlfriend, the witch Molly Metcalf, searching desperately for this magical artifact? Well, as usual, it's a long story. This time, it begins with the reading of the Matriarch's will. The Matriarch, who died several books ago, never approved of Eddie, so he is suspicious when she leaves him a fancy box that holds something that will make him the Drood family Patriarch, but only if Eddie gives up Molly forever. That's never gonna happen, though, so Eddie steals the box and once again turns his back on his family. He has promised Molly that they will visit his grandfather, the Regent of Shadows, to learn who gave the order to have Molly's parents killed many years ago. When they arrive at the Regent's office in the Department of the Uncanny, they find a gory massacre scene with every single person dead, including the Regent. But the Regent is a Drood, so he is able to animate his dead body just long enough to give Eddie a cryptic message about an unidentified traitor within the Department of the Uncanny. Then, as the Regent dies once and for all, a mystical voice fills the room, telling Eddie that the speaker has Eddie's parents in custody and will kill them if Eddie doesn't locate and take possession of the Lazarus stone.
From this point on, we have a typical Eddie Drood adventure story that includes a mysterious Drood prisoner, an army of magically armored False Knights; a portal-making Doormouse; an army of murderous, masked, blood-red clone-men; a dangerous trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway; attacks by Siberian Death Wurms; and a party in an icy castle hosted by the Lady Faire, a powerful seductress. Here's how Eddie's Uncle Jack describes the Lady Faire: "She's not male or female, but a combination of both. A whole that is supposed to be far greater than the sum of its parts….She's beautiful, bewitching, irresistible—the ultimate honey trap…The Lady Faire is every love and lover you ever dreamed of, especially the ones where you wake up screaming, in a cold sweat. One of the Baron Frankenstein's more inventive creations, when he was getting old, and a bit kinky." (p. 117) Although Eddie and Molly come close to death a few times, their sardonic back-and-forth banter never ceases, and their love for one another never falters, even under the influence of the oh-so-seductive Lady Faire.
I'm not going to go into an in-depth explanation of the plot because it is so wildly extravagant in its characters and so serpentine in its structure that I don't want to take away the pleasure of trying to grasp every detail as you attempt to figure out who the traitors are, whether Eddie's family truly believes that he killed his own grandfather, and who is the master of the clones. Here is Eddie's summary of events two-thirds of the way through the book: "We are on our way to a place that doesn't officially exist, to steal something that almost certainly doesn't do what it says..., from a person who isn't even a person, to buy my parents back from someone we don't even have a name for!…While every secret organisation in the world, very definitely including my own family, wants us dead!" (p. 218) The resolution doesn't come until the final pages when the evil villain explains it all (so don't spoil it for yourself by peeking at the ending).
You could probably read this book as a stand-alone, but why would you? Better to start from the beginning of the series so that you can enjoy Eddie's prickly relationship with the other Droods and watch the early stumbles in his relationship with Molly. As always, Molly is fierce, independent, sarcastic, and as loyal to Eddie, as is he to her. Several characters from Green's NIGHTSIDE series either turn up or are mentioned in this book, including Merlin Satanspawn, Harry Fabulous, John Taylor, Dead Boy, and Hadleigh Oblivion, but Green gives you enough description and back story that you don't need to have read that series to understand what's going on. This is a typical novel for this series, so if you enjoy Green's breezy-but-bloody style, you'll enjoy this book.
Here is a perfect example of the circuitous route Green will take to contrive the perfect pun. In this scene, Molly and Eddie are in the swaying baggage car of a moving train, trying to catch an escaped bat and a flying, feathered hat. "Molly lost her balance, and grabbed at the nearest shelf to steady herself. Her hand missed the shelf and fastened onto a bottle bearing a handwritten sign that said simply Gin. The bottle slipped out of her hand and smashed on the floor. A great cloud of purple smoke billowed up, taking on a vaguely human form, with a grinning bearded face at the top. Not Gin. Djinn. Nothing causes more damage than a bottle of cheap djinn." (p. 220) You just have to chuckle.
NOVEL 9: From a Drood to a Kill
Chapters 1 and 2: Summary: Eddie and Molly break into Drood Hall, confront the Matriarch, and demand the family's help in finding Eddie's parents. The Matriarch agrees, but only if Eddie helps out with a special investigation. Key points to remember: Eddie still has the Black Box and the Merlin Glass; Uncle Jack (the Armourer) gives Eddie his Bentley; and Eddie gets a handler named Kate. (The Bentley, of course, has lots of James Bond-esque extras, like machine guns, a bulletproof chassis, the ability to travel through other dimensions, immunity to magical attacks, etc.) Critique: These chapters set up the rest of the sub-plots and are fairly straightforward, with entertaining action and humor. These are the least surreal of all the chapters.
Chapter 3: Summary: Eddie heads off on his investigation but gets waylaid and pulled into another dimension where he sees many, many fantastical scenes and creatures, none of which are what they seem to be. Key point to remember: The unreality of the dimension and the new information that Eddie learns about a family member's past are tangentially related to later sub-plots. Critique: Green goes overboard with his one-after-another scenes of weirdness, and I soon found myself just turning the pages to get past the scenery descriptions.
Chapter 4: Summary: Eddie arrives at his destination and quickly solves a high-level government security leak. In the process, he discovers a new government weapon called the Big Ear—about which the Drood family was unaware. This is a parody of the real-life scandal involving Edward Snowdon's data leaks that outed the U.S. government's intelligence gathering to the world. Key point to remember: None, unless the "weapon" turns up in a future book. Critique: This entire adventure is unrelated to the rest of the sub-plots. Although it is entertaining, it is quite predictable and seems like padding in an already lengthy book.
Chapters 5 and 6: Summary: Eddie and Molly attend the funeral and the wake of a beloved Drood family member and engage in pages and pages of their usual snarky, back-and-forth banter while interacting with Drood family members and many characters from previous books and from Green's NIGHTSIDE series. Key point to remember: Eddie's friendly interaction with Sir Perryvale, Seneschal of the London Knights, at the wake proves to be useful in his next adventure. Critique: Although the endless litany of funeral/wake guests and their antics serve as a blast to the past, they also bog down the pace. We do get to see Eddie's emotions come to the surface, and that is just a hint at what's to come. The brief scene with Nicolai Vodyanoi seems superfluous, even though it is related to a later brief scene (which is also superfluous)—although Green might go back to Vodyanoi's quest in a future book.
Chapter 9: Summary: Eddie visits the Travel Bureau to gain access to a portal to a dimension called the Shifting Lands, where he hopes to find Molly. Key point to remember: Eddie's no-kill pledge is put to the test. Critique: This adventure allows us to see more of Eddie's emotions, but it is mostly immaterial to the main plot.
So…this is an episodic novel in which the primary plot percolates in the background until the final pages, leaving Eddie to wander around through various peculiar dimensions. In each adventure he meets up with a variety of creatures/people, some of whom attack him, some of whom ignore him, and some of whom befriend him—basically, then, a typical SECRET HISTORIES novel. If you have enjoyed the previous novels in the series, you can expect this book to be more of the same. Although I do appreciate Green's dry humor and wild imagination, in these last few books he has overindulged his penchant for loading up his stories with as many freaky, flaky, far-out elements as possible. To read or listen to an excerpt from From a Drood to a Kill, click HERE to go to this book's Amazon.com page and click on either the cover art or the "Listen" icon.