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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Book From Aaronovitch
I really like Ben Aaronovitch. His books are fun, filled with an interesting style of magic, and are very mystery based.

So it wasn't a big surprise that I couldn't put the third book in his urban fantasy series, Whispers Under Ground, down and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Aaronovitch does a fantastic job creating interesting characters that readers will...
Published on July 31, 2012 by Books31

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars entertaining, light, interesting
This book was, apparently, the third in a series. Having read it out of turn, the mystery stands on its own, but some of the side points were left unexplained -- the fact that the author did not re-explain every interesting point is something I definitely would have appreciated, had I read the first two books. In this one, it left me wondering, but did not interrupt the...
Published on September 17, 2012 by A. Allen


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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Book From Aaronovitch, July 31, 2012
This review is from: Whispers Under Ground (Peter Grant) (Mass Market Paperback)
I really like Ben Aaronovitch. His books are fun, filled with an interesting style of magic, and are very mystery based.

So it wasn't a big surprise that I couldn't put the third book in his urban fantasy series, Whispers Under Ground, down and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Aaronovitch does a fantastic job creating interesting characters that readers will want to not only read about but meet and have a pint with. None of the characters are perfect, know everything, or are even all powerful in magic. In fact most of the time Peter, the protagonist, is figuring it out as he goes along and makes a muck of things before he figures it out.

Of course, besides Aaronvich's take on magic, I really enjoy his writing style and the way he gives a mini history lesson on a subject in each book as background for the overall mystery. This may sound boring to some, but he does it wonderfully weaving in interesting facts into the overall story in a way that builds a much deeper connection between the reader and the world.

So if you don't like well written books, filled with relatable/interesting characters, a fascinating take on magic, and a captivating mystery, then this book probably isn't for you. But if you so happen to like to read an engrossing book that wont let you put it down, then this definitely is the book for you. Another win from the up and coming author Ben Aaronovitch.

[...]
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A police procedural assisted by magic, August 1, 2012
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This review is from: Whispers Under Ground (Peter Grant) (Mass Market Paperback)
Quantum entanglement is just pixie dust with the word quantum thrown in. That, at least, is Constable Peter Grant's explanation of magic. Whether magic is caused by quantum entanglement or pixie dust, Grant is slowly learning to master it, a hobby that serves him well in his career with London's Metropolitan Police. He is assigned to the Folly, the hush-hush department (known more formally as the Specialist Assessment Unit) charged with investigating cases when "things get weird." Things get weird when an American named James Gallagher is stabbed to death with a sharp bit of pottery in London's Underground -- weird in part because it isn't clear how Gallagher got into the tunnel (his staggering exit at one of the platforms is captured on CCTV).

Something odd is taking place beneath the surface of London and it's up to Grant to connect the underground madness to Gallagher's death. The mystery takes Grant (together with boss Nightingale and apprentice Lesley) on a tour of the Underground's tunnels and London's sewers. A variety of magical types turn up to provide assistance or trouble (or both), including river goddesses, an Earthbender, and a half-fairy (on his father's side). And then there are the mysterious dwellers below London's surface....

Grant is sort of a neophyte magician so the novel is relatively light on magic -- a good thing, from my perspective. I'm more partial to detective work and/or humor than spell-casting and ghost-busting. The familiar elements of a police procedural give the novel its shape and keep it moving forward at a steady pace. Still, I recommend Whispers Under Ground not so much for its convoluted whodunit plot but for Ben Aaronovitch's humor. Aaronovitch's take on law enforcement officers is consistently amusing and his good-hearted American-bashing (like his French-bashing) is priceless.

Whispers Under Ground is written with enough attitude to keep the story interesting even when it lags, as it does from time to time. Unlike the London Underground, the plot doesn't consistently stay on track. Grant's burial by the Earthbender, for instance, leads to an extended scene of no clear relevance. It is one of a few passages that add nothing to the narrative. Still, Aaronovitch's snappy prose held my attention even when the story didn't.

Aaronovitch makes occasional references to events that occurred in earlier novels in the series. Having not read the earlier installments, those references baffled me. I don't think it's necessary to read the earlier novels to understand this one, but doing so would provide helpful context. Fortunately, although I sometimes felt like an outsider who didn't understand the novel's in-jokes, Aaronovitch coaxed a smile or a snicker on nearly every page, and that sufficed to earn my mild recommendation of this offbeat novel.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some readers are impossible to please!, August 18, 2012
By 
Hatter (DeLand, FL, USA) - See all my reviews
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I fell in love with Ben Aaronovich's two previous novels and have been waiting eagerly for this release. I love his droll sense of humor and understated cynicism, and periodically find myself laughing out loud while reading his books. My only mild complaint regarding his first two books was that the climaxes were too spectacular and felt almost overblown. So of course my only complaint with this book is that the climax was basically anticlimactic.

I still love the characters, the setting, and the story telling, and this is one of those series that I will re-read several times just because it is so enjoyable. However, this particular installment felt more like half a story. The crime which begins and ends the book is handled satisfactorily, although the ending felt rushed, but this crime never felt as important as the on-going search for the faceless man, which received too much attention not to have some sort of resolution.

I am happy to have this book in my collection and it will be read again and enjoyed again (most of my books are read once), but it is not his best told story. However I am still eagerly awaiting his next book and would recommend this series to anyone.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Left me wanting more, June 29, 2012
I was looking forward to this book so much, I woke up at 4am to download it onto my kindle. Then I read the first chapter and was useless at work the next day. That is how much I like the Peter Grant stories. I love the eccentricity of the magical police officers and the fact that one of the main characters is the city of London itself.

Our gang at The Folly have to investigate the mysterious death of a young man found in an underground station. Of course, this death is not as simple as a straightforward murder, there is magic and all sorts afoot as Peter, Lesley and Nightingale go on a hunt around and under London to find the bonkers truth.

What I like about this, and this third story has really refined this, is the banter between Peter and his colleagues. They may be doing magic and discovering all sorts of strangeness but they are all down to earth and witty as hell. The only thing I would have liked is more at the end, I felt there was more information to be had from some more characters and a few loose ends that could be explored more. Well I guess that means I'll have to wait for the next one. Hurry up and write it please!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better than the last one, August 6, 2012
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This review is from: Whispers Under Ground (Peter Grant) (Mass Market Paperback)
I'm a big fan of this series, ever since stumbling across "Rivers of London/Midnight Riot". The combination of police procedural and apprentice magician is nicely done, and the world is well-thought-out and plausible, as is the magic system(s) (or what we know if it/them). Even the vampires are very different from other vamps I've read, though they do not appear in this volume.

The way a lot of seemingly unrelated events wind their ways together to become interrelated makes up much of the plot, and it's got a great sense of pacing. As in the others, London itself is effectively a character; this couldn't have happened in any other city. The Rivers make only token appearances, though.

This is an excellent addition to the series, but I do recommend reading the others first- it'll make a lot more sense that way than if read on its own. I am eagerly awaiting #4!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars London exactly as it is, March 17, 2013
This review is from: Whispers Under Ground (Peter Grant) (Mass Market Paperback)
One of my other favourite authors (Lois McMaster Bujold) posted something about loving David Aaronovitch's books, so I decided to give them a try. I started with Rivers of London (PC Peter Grant) (US title: Midnight Riot), moved on to Moon Over Soho, and now am reading Whispers Under Ground.

Peter Grant and Lesley May are real, complex characters with backgrounds that are believable. Aaronovitch's upbringing in London makes his plots completely believable. The plot for Whispers Under Ground centers around the London Underground, with the usual cast of characters playing for screen time. I almost feel like there are too many characters, they are difficult to keep track of if you haven't read the first two books in the series, but make the effort, please! Anyways, I can't imagine which of the characters I would want the author to drop.

One important note: make an effort and get the UK versions of the books if you can. There are real differences, the US editions have been Americanized and it loses something in translation. I've listened to the audio book which follows the UK edition, and didn't realize just how much had been changed. This led to me quickly ordering the UK books.

Aaronovitch can't write quickly enough in my opinion. I can't wait for the next book to arrive in summer 2013.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Magic and murder in London, September 1, 2012
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This review is from: Whispers Under Ground (Peter Grant) (Mass Market Paperback)
The 2012 Olympic Games in London just came to a close, and sadly, most of us didn't get to go. So, why not take this opportunity to read some fantasy set in present day London? It's almost as good as being there!

No, really: the Peter Grant novels by Ben Aaronovitch are a great way to feel like you're actually visiting the city by the Thames. Whispers under Ground, the third novel in the series, was released right at the start of this Olympiad, and it's just as much fun as the first two books Rivers of London (which for some reason was retitled as Midnight Riot in the US) and Moon over Soho. These books are definitely worth a look if you're in the mood for some fun contemporary fantasy with large doses of humor and police procedural thrown in the mix.

At the start of the series, main character and narrator Peter Grant is a constable-in-training in London's venerable police force. It looks like he's in line for an exciting career of boring desk work, but that all changes when he draws the luckless duty of guarding a crime scene overnight because, to his eternal surprise, he is approached by the only witness to the crime... who also happens to be a ghost. Peter is swiftly recruited into a secret part of the police force that focuses on the supernatural and magical, and apprenticed to the mysterious Thomas Nightingale, the leader and only other active member in this centuries-old department.

Rather than becoming a desk jockey, Peter ends up as the newest member in a long line of wizards who secretly assist the London police force. He begins to study magic, which in these books has a methodical, even scientific underpinning going back to centuries of research. During his studies, he also helps Nightingale investigate the many magic-related mysteries and crimes that apparently take place in present day London.

The result of all of this is a series that crosses several sub-genres: definitely urban fantasy, but also elements of police procedural, a tiny bit of horror, and a generous helping of humor. The police procedural aspect is surprisingly pronounced: Ben Aaronovitch has obviously done his research and writes convincingly and in great detail about the inner workings of the London Police Department. The horror isn't a defining part of these books, but they do contain a few scenes that are shockingly dark and really drive home how meaningful the central mystery of each novel is.

Maybe those few gruesome scenes are more shocking because, for the most part, Ben Aaronovitch writes some of the funniest prose in current fantasy. These books are extremely entertaining, mainly because narrator Peter Grant has a hilarious voice and a sly sense of humor I really appreciate. In Whispers Under Ground we learn that Grant has an interest in architecture, which explains why he's paid so much attention to London's famous and infamous buildings throughout the series. Take for example this quote from series opener Rivers of London/Midnight Riot:

"City of Westminster Magistrates' Court is around the back of Victoria Station on the Horseferry Road. It's a bland box of a building built in the 1970s; it was considered to be so lacking in architectural merit that there was talk of listing it so that it could be preserved for posterity as an awful warning. Inside, the waiting areas maintained the unique combination of cramped busyness and barren inhumanity that was the glory of British architecture in the second half of the twentieth century."

The entire series is full of this type of quirkily effective prose and dry humor, making it a pure pleasure to read. They're the kind of books that often make you grin and, occasionally, laugh out loud. Here's another example from the newest novel, Whispers Under Ground:

"The media response to unusual weather is as ritualized and predictable as the stages of grief. First comes denial: "I can't believe there's so much snow." Then anger: "Why can't I drive my car, why are the trains not running?" Then blame: "Why haven't the local authorities sanded the roads, where are the snowplows, and how come the Canadians can deal with this and we can't?" This last stage goes on the longest and tends to trail off into a mumbled grumbling background moan, enlivened by occasional ILLEGALS ATE MY SNOWPLOW headlines from the Daily Mail, which continues until the weather clears up."

Peter Grant is the most well-defined character in these novels, mainly because Ben Aaronovitch deftly balances Peter's various struggles throughout the book. On the one hand, he's trying to master his magic and investigate the strange, random murders occurring in London, but he's also a bachelor in the city, dealing with the various young women he encounters, including an attractive colleague who plays an increasingly important role in the series, as well as the female personification of a Thames tributary. (Did I mention that, in this fantasy universe, each river has its own god? And that they occasionally play important roles in the novels?) Because Peter comes from a mixed-race family (his mother is West African) these novels also give an interesting look at what life's like for a vaguely Arabic-looking young man like Peter in modern day London--especially when he's out of uniform.

The other characters rarely reach the same level of depth as Peter, but several of them do grow in complexity as the series progresses. Especially Peter's colleague Leslie continues to develop from novel to novel, but we also get more and more looks at Peter's family (his father, a musician, features prominently in the jazz-focused Moon Over Soho) and at other members of the police department. Still, this probably won't be a series you'll want to read for the deep character studies. These books are fast reads, full of humor, mystery and magic, and it's best not to take everything too seriously and just go along for the ride.

I'm usually not a big fan of urban fantasy, but this series is so much fun that I always look forward to the next installment. If you're looking for a fast-moving, entertaining urban fantasy that'll make you feel like you're visiting London vicariously this summer, pick up series opener Midnight Riot/Rivers of London. And if you've already read the first two books, you'll probably be glad to hear that the newest installment Whispers Under Ground is just as good.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars London based urban fantasy series, August 9, 2012
This review is from: Whispers Under Ground (Peter Grant) (Mass Market Paperback)
This third in the series finds Peter Grant trekking underground to investigate a murder that smells of something magical. According to Nightingale and the River sisters there's nothing strange going on under London. And the River sisters would know considering their waterways criss cross the area in question. But Peter isn't so sure. All the clues lead directly to the tunnels and sewers that lie beneath the city. Meanwhile, the Folly officers have added one more to their ranks since Lesley has begun to show magical abilities and they're all on the hunt for a lead in the case of the faceless man.

Aaronovitch's series remains one of my favorite in the genre. I love the characters and I love the unique magic and supernatural things that keep popping up in Aaronovitch's London setting. The River sisters in particular are fascinating and allows the author to include all kinds of bizarre bits about London history and such. Really a fabulous series all around.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Starring the world's first ever Anglo-American Olympic sewer luge team, August 5, 2012
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This review is from: Whispers Under Ground (Peter Grant) (Mass Market Paperback)
The cover blurb for "Whispers Underground" calls this fantasy series "The perfect blend of CSI and Harry Potter." Actually, the magical elements are much more grown-up--no vomit-flavored jelly beans or flying brooms. Instead, I'm reminded of the 'pong' that Jonathan Gash's rogue antiques dealer, Lovejoy feels when he comes across a genuine antique. Constable Peter Grant, who is also an apprentice magician, gets a similar 'pong' when he discovers the murder weapon, a sliver of pottery dinner plate. The victim is an American, who was studying art in London until his premature demise in the Baker Street tube.

As you might guess from the title, much of the action takes place under London in the huge Victorian labyrinth of sewers, transportation tubes, storm drains, and forgotten air raid shelters. It you aren't claustrophobic before reading "Whispers Underground" you will be after being buried alive with Aaronovitch's cop/magician hero. In another one of the underground chase scenes, Peter and two of his fellow cops are caught up by the rapid current through a storm drain:

"Between duckings I glimpsed a patch of gray. I opened my mouth to yell 'Daylight' and then wished I hadn't when I got a mouthful of diluted sewage....My foot hit something underwater hard enough to pitch me over, and the world's first ever Anglo-American Olympic sewer luge team broke up."

As you can see from the above, this 3rd entry in the Peter Grant series carries on with the tongue-in-cheek first-person narrative style that made "Midnight Riot" and "Moon Over Soho" so un-put-downable. All of our favorite characters appear, including Nightingale, the unflappable senior magician, various river goddesses, and Leslie, the constable who lost her face in a previous episode. It would help to read these books in order, to familiarize yourself with the series' long-running villain, the Faceless Man, and the relationships between characters only get more and more complicated as the adventure moves on. Lots of loose ends guarantee further episodes, and I for one, can't wait until they are published.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More mystery and less magic, but still a fun read, August 23, 2012
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In Whispers Under Ground, the third book in Ben Aaronovitch's urban fantasy/police procedural series (which really needs a catchy name now that it is a full-fledged series), our favorite London cop-turned-sorcerer's apprentice Peter Grant is back, this time on the hunt for a subterranean killer. Still reeling from their confrontation with the Faceless Man and his evil wizard apprentices, Grant, alongside his fellow apprentice Lesley and his master Thomas Nightingale, head deep below London's streets on the hunt for a murderer, and naturally they find much more than they expected.

Where Moon Over Soho and Midnight Riot emphasized the magical aspects of Grant's job, Whispers Under Ground is much more focused on investigative work, questioning suspects and even the political aspect of police work. To be sure, there's plenty of hocus pocus, but at heart this is a murder mystery story, and a fun one at that. Grant remains one of the most endearing characters in the urban fantasy genre, and his observations and dialogue are great fun to read. The series also boasts an impressive supporting cast, and one that gets both larger and more interesting in this book. The only real downside is that the larger conflict with the Faceless Man is put on the back burner in favor of the mystery story, which, while fun, doesn't seem all that important in the grand scheme.

It didn't have the same sense of danger and menace that the previous books had, but Whispers Under Ground is a welcome continuation of this fantastic series, and is just a good, fun urban fantasy story. Fans of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series and Mike Carey's Felix Castor novels will definitely want to check out Aaronovitch's work.
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Whispers Under Ground (Peter Grant)
Whispers Under Ground (Peter Grant) by Ben Aaronovitch (Mass Market Paperback - July 31, 2012)
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