I just finished Aaronovitch’s latest novella, starring Detective Inspector Peter Grant, and I’m very very satisfied. It’s certainly enough to tide me over until Ben’s next full length Peter Grant book, which I can’t wait to see in hardcover, one day.
I can’t recommend this series enough. I’m thoroughly addicted, but I can’t explain exactly why this series is so compelling to me. Is it the low key use of magic? Is it Peter Grant’s mordant snarkiness? Or the fact that he’s of African descent? Is it the side characters, like Toby the Ghostfinding dog, or Peter’s magically inclined niece, who talks to the foxes of London, or just the common, everyday, police procedural stuff? Probably all of the above.
I especially liked this book which I finished it record time, for me anyway, although I do wish it had a bit more Beverly Brook in it. Beverly is one of the physical incarnations of one of the rivers of London. She and her sisters are some of my favorite recurring characters. Her sisters are the incarnations of the rivers Fleet, Tyburn, and Lea, while their mother is the female incarnation of the Thames. This just tickles the Hell out of me, btw. All of them look African, which I think is an odd/but not odd thing, considering it’s London. I like Beverly, because she has a snarky sense of humor too, and she’s dating Peter.
How do I describe the mood of these books. Well, it’s very low key as I said. There’s magic in it but it’s so subtle as to appear almost mundane. Also Peter, the narrator, is so used to magic, that he describes the most extraordinary events as if they were commonplace. The books are more like police procedurals, with an overlay of magical events, rather than the deep magic world of the Jim Butcher books, which I also love. The series isn’t much like those, if that’s what you’re imagining. First of all, they’re set in London, and the author fully recognizes the diversity, with a large cast of different races of people, most of whom are cops. So Peters magical activities are fully sanctioned by the authorities, and explained away, with no one actually acknowledging their magical origins. There’s magic in this world, and quite a few people encounter it, and believe in it, but it’s so quietly done, that most regular people don’t recognize, or want to realize, that’s what they’ve just experienced.
Peter Grant comes from a musical family, and some of the books go deep into magical theory, and music, which is interesting. His father is a somewhat famous Jazz musician,who is suffering from some, not quite clear, mental illness. I love that Peter is not some lone, token black guy, as he comes from a fairly large family, on his mom’s side, which he mentions visiting from time to time. But for most of his time, he’s at work for The Folly.
The Folly is run by one Thomas Nightingale, whose age is indeterminate, but he’s old enough to be considered a Master Magician, and did some magic, for the Crown, during WW2. Peter is his new apprentice, after having run into a magical serial killer in the first novel. In the current novella, Peter is doing most of the heavy lifting, as he and a colleague track down a missing woman, who disappeared on the Metro. Her disappearance has incited some very public ghostly activity, which is momentarily frightening to the passengers, although they don’t often remember the scare long enough to tell him the details. Since ghosts are involved, and the Folly is the Special Crimes Investigation Unit, Peter gets the call.
I love the side characters in this series. From Walidd, the physician who specializes in autopsying magical deaths, to Molly, who is some type of supernatural creature, working as a domestic at The Folly, to Peter’s arch nemesis, The Faceless Man, and his new apprentice, Leslie May, who used to be Peter’s girlfriend.
It’s also been fun watching Peter’s rather innovative, and unorthodox, approaches to magic, to the headshaking chagrin of Nightingale, and Peter’s growing abilities over the course of seven books. He is also starting to get a reputation, among his fellow officers, for blowing things up. There’s at least one major explosion of something in each book, that Peter is at least partially responsible for, although sometimes Nightngale gets in on the action.
The bottom line is, I love this series. I think it’s one of the best British Urban Fantasy series out there. Heck, I love British Urban Fantasy in general. There are no love triangles, nothing so mundane as vampires or werewolves, and no lone White heroine, worrying about her supernatural boyfriend, or which shoes to match with her weapons. There’s little melodrama, clever writing, and likable, quirky, and diverse, characters. A lot of the magic is based on British History, much of it unique to London, and it’s wealth of magical locations, and objects. The plots are somewhat involved, but no more so than your typical police novel. With occasional magic.
It’s not too late to get in on this series, which is fun Summer reading material. Each book builds on the next, but it’s not required that you read them in order, as they are also standalone books.
The Rivers of London or Midnight Riot is the first book,
Moon Over Soho
The Hanging Tree
And now The Furthest Station.
*I received a copy of this book from Netgalley for free. If you have a platform, and you’d like to review books for Netgalley, it costs nothing to sign up.