Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch. Book review

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch. Gollancz ‘12.99

Reviewed by Jan Edwards

Ordinary people are going mad, committing serious assaults and murders after which their faces implode; all of which revolves around failed, deceased actors, and Mr Punch.

The lead character, Peter Grant, is a probationary London cop waiting for his final allocation to section. He thinks he is very ordinary trainee headed for a boring desk job, and so does everybody else. Until, that is, he finds himself on duty in the wee small hours at the scene of a brutal murder in Covent Garden. After a chance encounter with a ghostly witness, Grant realises he can both see and talk with ghosts, and has a witness to prove it in the shape of Inspector Nightingale, head of the Specialist Crime unit. Grant finds himself seconded to Nightingale’s team of two, as the latest and only apprentice wizard in the Met Police, with all of the weirdness and wonder that such a post can bring.

Nightingale and Grant are on the case and, at the same time, Grant’s magical education is underway, plus his other SCU duties, such as averting a turf war between the various gods and goddesses of the Thames and its tributaries.

Rivers of London is a crime police procedural with a huge slice of dark fantasy. Here the crime investigation has such a sense of verisimilitude so that you can believe that police procedures as described come from personal experience, without it ever getting bogged down in detail. The fantasy side, the magical training where Grant, though born with a gift, has to work in order to learn what he needs to know, feels as if he really is on a learning curve.  Best of all, this is a fun book, with enough wry humour without it being a slapstick comic fantasy.

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch. Gollancz ‘12.99

Reviewed by Jan Edwards

Ordinary people are going mad, committing serious assaults and murders after which their faces implode; all of which revolves around failed, deceased actors, and Mr Punch.

The lead character, Peter Grant, is a probationary London cop waiting for his final allocation to section. He thinks he is very ordinary trainee headed for a boring desk job, and so does everybody else. Until, that is, he finds himself on duty in the wee small hours at the scene of a brutal murder in Covent Garden. After a chance encounter with a ghostly witness, Grant realises he can both see and talk with ghosts, and has a witness to prove it in the shape of Inspector Nightingale, head of the Specialist Crime unit. Grant finds himself seconded to Nightingale’s team of two, as the latest and only apprentice wizard in the Met Police, with all of the weirdness and wonder that such a post can bring.

Nightingale and Grant are on the case and, at the same time, Grant’s magical education is underway, plus his other SCU duties, such as averting a turf war between the various gods and goddesses of the Thames and its tributaries.

Rivers of London is a crime police procedural with a huge slice of dark fantasy. Here the crime investigation has such a sense of verisimilitude so that you can believe that police procedures as described come from personal experience, without it ever getting bogged down in detail. The fantasy side, the magical training where Grant, though born with a gift, has to work in order to learn what he needs to know, feels as if he really is on a learning curve.  Best of all, this is a fun book, with enough wry humour without it being a slapstick comic fantasy.