Travel Documents 17: Project Nightingale

Project Nightingale (Bird Bright Shadows Book 1)

E.V. Greig
Genre: espionage, mystery, sci-fi

 Link To Buy

The Dust Cover Copy

It is the late 21st Century. Whilst mega-corporations and governments fight a less than discreet war for control of the general population, there are others who operate within the traditional boundaries of Intelligence. Walking in the shadows and trading in secrets, these operatives will do whatever is necessary to complete their missions. In the interest of maintaining public ignorance, someone is needed to clean up in their wake. Introducing socially non-gendered British International Intelligence operative Nightingale Spence – aka Housekeeping. Assassin, medic, alibi merchant, and therapist to some of the most inventively lethal people in the world…

The Deets

The Scene

Worldbuilding

Oh boy! In the first few pages, the book presents itself at first as MI-5 or Man From Uncle: you can taste the soot of the post-Cold War streets.
But then you get into it and realize that, though there are clouds covering the sun, what you smell is certainly not exhaust. Though it may be the blood of a genetically engineered soldier, or the stink of burning plastic as a motherboard fries.

In a world reminiscent both of Bond and of ‘What Happened To Monday’, this world building is deliciously quirky, creative and clever. It proves that you can keep the things you loved about spy novels-the one-liners, the tech, the dry and resolutely witty personaes, the code names and the crazy ideas-while jettisoning the disposable women, the toxic men and the messed up, abusive relationships.  I fell in love with it.

The Crowd

Characterization

This is where the magic of this story really happens. Let’s start with Spence. Oh, Nightingale Spence, you are a gem. In fact, you’re a lot like a gem: cold and hard to the touch, and absolutely brilliant. And gorgeous. And without gender.
That’s right, the character’s ungendered. This is not something any other character-save the villain, who’s a douche bag-has a problem with.  That’s one more reason to hate the guy. Beyond that, the thing’s a non-issue. And that’s a beautiful thing to see.

Oh, by the way, on that villian? I almost felt bad for Hull at first, damn him. I love it when a writer manages to make me loathe myself after empathizing with villains!

The renowned field operative’s Campbell’s quiet but fiercely attached relationship to Spence is a joy to see. Their connection doesn’t need to be sexual in order to be powerful, beautiful and a really attention-grabbing subplot. Once they’ve found each other again, they’re not letting go. And God help the idiot who tries to seperate them.

The side characters are adorable, laugh-out-loud funny, terrifying and jaw-dropping in equal measure. And I have to say, the banter is one part mad scientist and two parts awesome working team.

‘Mind you don’t build another crazy robot! I remember last time!’

‘Don’t let him bleed out!’ ‘Yes, you said to bring him in alive, I know’
These are just a few examples of the madcap and wonderful wit.

Put those elements together and you have a great set of living, breathing characters.

 

The Lingo

Writing Style

This is, essentially, Bond Without Bullshit. There’s great word usage, wonderful amounts of wit. Evocative imagery. Snappy dialogue. But there are also well-placed snatches of tenderness, and perfectly portrayed examples of the quiet camaraderie between veterans of a hidden war. I loved it.

A quick side note: This book really ought to have more reviews than it does. And since the first book in the series is free, you should grab a copy. But I think I might know one reason for the issue: the covers. They really don’t measure up to the contents. And they aren’t helping the series at all.

 

The Moves

Plot

Tight, intricate and clever, this plot still finds time for a sweet Christmas shenanigan and some very tender moments. It’s a perfect blend.

 

 

Overall Rating

I went through this book in one sitting. It’s dry, sly, clever and completely engrossing, with a surprising humanity under the very hard shell of operative pride and gallows humor. You need to read it.