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"It's very funny, it's very clever, it's very nicely written. . . . It's such a treat . . . so much fun." ---Nancy Pearl, KUOW
--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
About the Author
Ben Aaronovitch was born and raised in London and all his work has reflected his abiding fascination and love for what he modestly likes to refer to as the 'Capital of the World'. He works as a bookseller when he is not writing novels and TV scripts.
Ben Aaronovitch was born in 1964. Discovering in his early twenties that he had precisely one talent, he took up screenwriting at which he was an overnight success. He wrote for Doctor Who, Casualty and the world's cheapest ever SF soap opera Jupiter Moon. He then wrote for Virgin's New Adventures until they pulped all his books.
Then Ben entered a dark time illuminated only by an episode of Dark Knight, a book for Big Finish and the highly acclaimed but not-very-well-paying Blake's 7 Audio dramas.
Trapped in a cycle of disappointment and despair Ben was eventually forced to support his expensive book habit by working for Waterstones as a bookseller. Ironically it was while shelving the works of others that Ben finally saw the light. He would write his own books, he would let prose into his heart and rejoice in the word. Henceforth, subsisting on nothing more than instant coffee and Japanese takeaway, Ben embarked on the epic personal journey that was to lead to Rivers of London (or Midnight Riot as it is known in the Americas).
Ben Aaronovitch currently resides in London and says that he will leave when they pry his city from his cold dead fingers.
Rivers of London is the long-awaited original series from popular TV and tie-in writer Ben Aaronovitch. A darkly comedic police procedural, Rivers is a deliciously more-ish book that is nearly impossible to put down.
The book (and presumably, the forthcoming series) features Peter Grant, a somewhat mediocre police officer who suddenly discovers that he's, well, magical. Or at least, suddenly aware of the magical. Young Grant was on the fast track to a bureaucratic desk job, but now his life is much, much more interesting. Grant is poached for duty by Chief Inspector Nightingale, the Met's divisional head (and the entire division) for Creepy Magical Stuff.
It all happens just in time. The Rivers of London, at least, their magical embodiments, are having a turf war - it is in the pushing and shoving phase, but still, if it goes wrong, the city will be in bad shape. Grant is also juggling a second supernatural case - a nasty serial-killer of a poltergeist is beating people to death and making their faces fall off.
The Occult Detective has transformed into a recognisable genre stereotype. The 'O.D.' generally has a supernatural knack but, more commonly, solves problems through fast talking, "people skills" and general cunning. He's a bit of an outsider, something exacerbated by the fact that he Knows stuff that The Rest of Us don't. He's the tarnished knight type - cynical due to the problems in his own past. And 98% percent of the time? He wears a long coat.
Peter Grant (and CDI Nightingale) are the most recent branches of the motley family tree that includes Felix Castor, Harry Dresden, Johns Taylor, Constantine and Silence, and even, arguably, Doctor Who.Read more ›
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Yep, it is an urban fantasy and yep we have seen many of it's like both in the UK and in the US. But this is well written and is great fun with a tongue firmly in cheek while not playing it for laughs. The author has done an excellent job with his knowledge of London and merging in a young copper joining a rather mysterious unit in the London Metropolitan Police. Much to be enjoyed here as a copper finds himself an apprentice wizard in the Met at a time where the balance between the normal world and his new world slips out of kilter. And there is a serious dispute between Old Father Thames and Mother Thames and all the rivers are getting involved....Lots in here about London itself which should appeal to those who want more then just a pacey urban fantasy, this is a thoughtful and intelligent piece of work wrapped in a gentle glow of good humour. It's a joy and I am really looking forward to the next one. The author demonstrates a wit I have not seen in a long time (and often reminded me of the sadly departed Douglas Adams) and I think we have some great things to come.
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Peter Grant is a London police officer going on with his ordinary life. He has a washed-up jazz artist father, a complicated African mother, and a female best friend and lust object. He is also curious and highly distractible. I found this a sympathetic character trait. On a night much like any other, he is standing around at a crime scene when a ghost tells him about the murder most foul, as ghosts are wont to do. His life gets a lot more complicated all of a sudden, what with a smelly ghost-finding dog, a strangely ageless magical mentor, and an assignment to the X Files of the London constabulary.
I bought this book because the publishers made a questionable decision about the cover. There has been some awareness on the parts of the internet that I frequent that publishers targeting American audiences "whitewash" their covers. The most famous example that I can think of was Justine Larbalestier's Liar, which is about a biracial protaganist. The original proposed cover showed a white girl. The publisher was convinced to change the cover, but it took some doing. There are pictures of the original and modified covers of the Aaronovitch books at Neth Space. In researching the whitewashing, I thought the book sounded interesting, and bought the first one. 26 hours and some lost sleep later, I bought the second one. One of the blurbs said it was like "Harry Potter meets CSI". I thought it was more like "Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality meet Sherlock".
I liked Midnight Riot for many of the same reasons I liked Laura Bickle's Embers: the sense of place and space is palpable. Bickle's protaganist, Anya, lives in the current Detroit, a once-great city suffering through very hard times.Read more ›
Not a lot of "urban fantasy" is masculine these days - only Glen Cook's Garrett PI and Jim Butcher's Dresden files fit the bill, at least for some definitions of UF. This is more police procedural with magic than soft porn bodice-ripper with vampires/werewolves/demons/etc: I say that not to throw stones at anyone's favourite genre, just to make the point clear. There is no explicit sex, brief (but apparently spectacular) nudity, and while blood is drunk, its not really romantic and nor is it drunk by a vampire.
So...what is it about? Well, imagine being a young mixed-race copper in London, about to get posted to a dull dead end existance shuffling paper, while your glamourous almost-girlfriend gets a plum posting...and then a ghost gives you a tip-off and you discover a whole new world. This is a London of spirits and ghosts, groaning under the weight of history and geography. And someone is commiting murder by magical possession.
The London here is as much a character as setting, with the various rivers and streams all having human forms (the UK edition is called Rivers of London, the US Midnight Riot - both are appropriate for different reasons).
Most of all though there is an intriguing crime story which happens to involve ghosts, and the odd realistic tangent of dealing with a nest of vampires or settling scores between Father Thames and Mother Thames. Aaronovitch has written an story which runs along as a good pace, and you really don't want to put down.
The sequel, Moon over Soho, is out now, and the next volume, Whispers Under Ground, is out later this year. If they are as good as this, then there is a lot to look forward to.