Book Review: Simon R. Green’s Casino Infernale

Posted July 8, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Simon R. Green’s Casino Infernale

Casino Infernale


Simon R. Green

urban fantasy in Hardcover edition that was published by Open Road Media on June 4, 2013 and has 374 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Something From the Nightside, Mean Streets, Agents of Light and Darkness, Nightingale's Lament, Paths Not Taken, Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth, Hell to Pay, Just Another Judgement Day, The Good, the Bad, and the Uncanny, A Hard Day's Knight, Hex and the City, The Unnatural Inquirer, The Bride Wore Black Leather, Home Improvement: Undead Edition, Hex Appeal, Man with the Golden Torc, Daemons are Forever, The Spy Who Haunted Me, From Hell with Love, For Heaven's Eyes Only, Live and Let Drood, Blue Moon Rising, Tales of the Hidden World, Blood and Honor, From a Drood to a Kill, The Dark Side of the Road, Dead Man Walking, Very Important Corpses, Moonbreaker, Dr. DOA

Seventh in the Secret Histories urban fantasy series and revolving around Shaman Bond/Eddie Drood and Molly Metcalfe as they save the world yet again.

And it slides in right after The Bride Wore Black Leather (Nightside, 12).

My Take

A comically disguised metaphor for the greed and insanity behind gambling in Green’s inimitable style with a currency that begins in cash and quickly proceeds to souls.

Well, that settles it…anyone who loves Ngaio Marsh has to be great… Well, Green is also incredibly amazing for his out-of-this-world imagination. He simply has too much fun, as he pokes fun back at the world.

“Hmm, there’s that whole trust issue:
‘…it must be a London Knight. Because only we are true and pure of heart… We can be trusted.’

‘Yeah, but can you play cards.’

‘Even the least of us is more trustworthy than … a pagan witch who chooses sides more often than her underwear.'”

I never did find out why Molly’s memories got suppressed. Admittedly, the trauma of it was probably enough to do it, and what we learn does explain why Molly has pursued this path and made all these deals.

Step one of Molly’s memories is a meeting with the new leaders of the faction with which her parents were involved, and it is iffy with them not trusting this brand of Molly who would ally herself with a Drood.

It’s all violent action and terrifying magic with the Droods willing to do anything to anyone to achieve their aims. And yet, Green tosses in those silly one-liners and contemporary entertainment references that remind you of the fun. Mary Poppins, anyone? And he never ceases to crack me up with new craziness. A Summit Meeting on Mars?

Oh, I want the food dispenser in the Martian Tombs! No cooking, no dishes…ooh…

Uh-oh…Eddie’s lost his torc, and he’ll have to cope with being vulnerable without his suit of Drood armour! Truly scary when you realize that everything, and I mean everything is a challenge and a trap at the Casino Infernale, and each level finds the stakes higher. It’s a strategy that exposes the inner man — or woman — in their true colors, and Eddie’s feeling quite grateful to the Serjeant-at-Arms. Which tells you just how vicious it is.

Whew, lucky that Eddie had his uncle’s pack of cards and that Parris had an ego with ambition to match.

Green’s over-the-top style keeps it fun with, oddly, no sense of melodrama. It’s James Bond in a very wicked wonderland.

The Story

The Regent has promised Molly that if she and Shaman take on this mission to Trammell Island, she’ll learn the truth of what happened to her parents. A truth that is so horrible, that Molly has blocked out all memory.

Shockingly, this mission was simply to give Molly closure…Droods just don’t do nice! The true mission of Casino Infernale is to prevent Major Players and Individuals of Note from gaining access to Crow Lee’s “hoard of secrets, unimaginable wealth, objects of power, blackmail material … etc.” Whoever gains access to this much power could destroy the world. An ambition which the Droods will fight. Or, rather, they’ll send Eddie to fight for them…to gamble their souls…and break the Shadow Bank.

The Characters

Eddie Drood has given up on the Drood Family again and gone to work for the Department of the Uncanny, headed up by his thought-to-be-dead grandfather, the Regent of Shadows, Arthur Drood. The same department that employs his not-actually dead parents: Patrick and Diana. Shaman Bond is Eddie’s alter ego and completely detached from anything Drood-ish with a reputation for showing up anywhere, anytime, knowing any thing.

Molly Metcalf, the Wild Witch of the Wood, has a traumatic past which includes the last days of the White Horse Faction, a terrorist group intent on remaking the world. Jake Metcalf is Molly’s dad. Louise is Molly’s whacked sister.

The original Droods were Druids back at the beginning of time. After making a deal with an alien entity, the family has watched over the world, ensuring its survival. According to Drood lights, anyway. Uncle Jack is the family Armourer. Ethel is the new Entity who normally hangs in the Sanctity room. Caradoc is in charge of the costume department.

The Scarlet Lady, a 1958 scarlet and white Plymouth Fury whom we first met in Live and Let Drood, 6, will be their backup.

Hadrian Coll, a.k.a., Trickster Man, is one of the Grey Bastards, Molly’s parents’ friend, and an advisor for the Faction. The Red King’s Ruby was a magical artifact that exists only in dreams. Stephanie Troy, Phil Adams, and Joe Morrison are the leaders of the new White Horse Faction.

The Martian Tombs are the locale for Summit Meetings. This meeting will include Sir Parsifal of the London Knights, an organization which protects Earth from otherworldly enemies; J.C. Chance of the Ghost Finders at the Carnacki Institute; Dead Boy shows up from the Nightside, leaving the Eddie and Uncle Jack wishing they’d sent their new Walker; Bruin Bear, whom everyone can’t help but love, and Sea Goat represent Shadows Fall, where legends go to die; and, Natasha Chang of the Crowley Project, Crow Lee’s organization. The generic people are cloned and serve the Shadow Bank, and in turn, the Casino Infernale.

The Shadow Bank holds all the cards, in every sense of the word. Even the Droods are afraid of them! François Greyson, alias Fun Time Frankie, will be Eddie and Molly’s guide at Casino Infernale. Pan’s Panzerpeople are the Fourth Reich Femmes, the Bitches From Hell with a contract on Eddie and Molly. Franklyn Parris is running the Casino Infernale this year. The Jackson Fifty-Five are providing security. Jonathan Stott is the hotel manager. Eiko is head of hotel security and capable of her own transformation.

The gamblers include Jacqueline Hyde, an original party girl, who is desperate to separate from her lover Edward Hyde; Earnest Schmidt currently leads the reformed Brotherhood of the Vril — Hitler supporters; Father Leopold, the gambling priest, represents the Vatican; Junkie Jules; Thirtieth Century Man; Nigel, a.k.a., Déjà Fu the Dancing Fool, is looking for revenge; Little Lord is a tranny looking for a way home; the Bones Man; and, the Card Shark, a ringer brought in by Parris.

Herbert Gregory Walliams was the first (and last) Lord of Trammell who built his own private kingdom on Trammell Island. The Great White Horse is a living god, imprisoned in a Barrow mound before being released.

The Cover and Title

The cover has a pink haze glowing to illuminate the high stakes gamblers in this gaming room and lending to the sense of great depth in the room with its coffered ceiling and pillars. I’m not sure who is the figure silhouetted in pink, clutching a claw-like device in his left hand, but I’d bet anything the lady in the red backless dress is Molly.

The title is where the challenge is, at the Casino Infernale.