From Hell With Love, by Simon R. Green (Roc, 2010)

When it comes to secret organizations dedicated to protecting the world from all threats, both internal and external, no group is as resourceful, widespread, or potentially insane as the Droods. And of that infamous family, none is as dangerous or misunderstood as Eddie Drood, who has saved the world more than a few times in his checkered career. After a stint as head of the family, he’s back to being a nice, normal field agent like he prefers. Unfortunately, subtlety is not his strong point, and after a rather embarrassing incident involving a destroyed Los Angeles hotel, he’s been called home to explain himself. Perfect timing, then, for the Matriarch of the family to be murdered and Eddie’s own girlfriend, the mercurial Molly Metcalf, Wild Witch of the Woods, to be implicated. Things quickly get out of hand, and a bad situation turns tragic.

In the aftermath, Eddie’s left chasing ghosts and rumors to seek the Matriarch’s true killer. Soon he’s on the trail of the Immortals, an ancient family that’s the opposite of the Droods in every way, undying shapeshifters who could be anyone, anywhere, doing what they please without rhyme, reason or consequence. Worse still, the Immortals have recruited the infamous Drood traitor, Tiger Tim, and the evil genius, Doctor Delirium, as unlikely allies. Worst of all, the dread Apocalypse Door has been put into play; if it opens, all Hell will break loose. From one end of the world to the next, from Castle Frankenstein to Area 52, it’s all-out war between the Droods and the Immortals, and the last man standing isn’t necessarily who you’d expect.

From Hell With Love adds another chapter to the grand saga Simon R. Green’s been constructing over dozens of books and multiple series. Characters from the Nightside, Drinking Midnight Wine, and Shadows Fall all make appearances or are name checked as he ties together all his different works. Meanwhile, we get even more insight into the secret world of the Droods and their long-lived arch foes, and get an idea of the stakes at hand. Like the rest of this series, it’s an odd blend of action, science fiction, fantasy, and pulp weirdness, which somehow works despite itself. It’s an epic adventure that gleefully goes over-the-top with a stylized, exaggerated style all its own.

Heroes and villains strut their stuff across a worldwide stage, and the end result is something so entertaining, it’s almost a guilty pleasure. This will never be Great Literature, but you always get your money’s worth of popcorn enjoyment from a Green book, and From Hell With Love definitely maintains that standard. The cliffhanger pretty much guarantees readers will be back for the next in the series, but I’d come back anyway just to see what the heck happens next.

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