Wednesday, January 4, 2012

BLOODLINES: Serial Horror in Fiction #7: Sidney Taine by Robert Weinberg

(Author/Editor Robert Weinberg)

by Bill Lindblad

Sidney Taine is an ideal supernatural detective. He's informed, clever, strong, empathic, fearless and graceful. That is the major flaw of the Taine stories.

Weinberg writes interesting stories with a craftsman's eye. The characters' actions all make sense from their individual perspectives, without actions taken merely to advance plot. The plots are tidy mysteries, with complexity dependent upon the length of the work. Words are chosen to keep the reader engaged without jarring them out of the narrative.

What is lacking, unfortunately, is suspense. Taine is a true ideal, in the fashion of the most inspirational pulp heroes or golden-age comic book characters. There is no chance he will ever be tempted to the dark side, no chance someone else will beat him to the punch, and will rarely be outwitted, merely deceived.

In lesser hands this would be a fatal flaw for the Taine stories, a series of short fiction pieces and a novel (as well as a comic book miniseries featuring his equally talented sister Sydney.) Instead it merely denies the reader a complex protagonist and pushes them to concentrate on the plot and action. The stories are never bad, but they rarely rise to the level of the most gripping horror or suspense fiction. If you want a fun supernatural detective story when you pick up one of these works, you're going to enjoy yourself immensely. But if you're hunting for a character-driven work, look elsewhere.

"The Black Lodge"
"The Midnight El"
"The Silent Majority"
"The Apocalypse Quattrain"
"Seven Drops of Blood"
"Terror By Night"
and the "Darkside" comic series from Marvel

--Bill Lindblad