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Broken Homes (Rivers of London) Mass Market Paperback – February 4, 2014
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*Starred Review* It’s hard to understand why Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series, of which this is the fourth installment, is not more well known in the U.S. It’s quite popular in Britain, and rightly so because it has everything: a plucky hero, London Metropolitan Police constable Peter Grant; clever mysteries; entertaining villains; and, just for fun, wizardry. Yes, wizardry. It seems Peter Grant, an ordinary police officer, has been recruited into a special branch of the police department, known as the Folly, which deals with matters of witchcraft, sorcery, and the supernatural. He’s an apprentice wizard, too, which comes in handy when dealing with cases that are decidedly weird. Take the murdered man who might be the latest victim of the Faceless Man, a powerful rogue magician; or take the old German textbook of magic—well, you can’t take that because someone already did, took it from its rightful home in Germany to England, where it turned up in the London police department’s recovered-goods repository (but was never reported stolen in the first place). Oh, and let’s not forget the weird goings-on at a housing estate with an odd past and, apparently, an even odder present. Honestly, this series is so much fun it really deserves an enormous audience on both sides of the pond. It’s a natural for grown-up Harry Potter devotees but also for urban-fantasy fans in general. --David Pitt
"A low-income housing tower gone awry, an old enemy with a bone to pick...and a shocker of an ending—Broken Homes is a delight." —Charlaine Harris, #1 New York Times-bestselling author
"The prose is witty, the plot clever, and the characters incredibly likeable." —Time Out
"It's witty, fun, and full of vivid characters, and the plot twists will keep even seasoned mystery fans guessing." —Publishers Weekly
“The perfect blend of CSI and Harry Potter.” —io9
"This book is, at its heart, a police procedural with an overlay of urban fantasy elements. The voice is persuasive and funny as all get-out, and the reader is engaged with the narrative from the very first page. Aaronovitch has written a diverse cast of characters who all feel like real people with their own specific motivations. This book is simply wonderful." —RT Reviews (top pick)
"The most satisfying fantasy thriller to hit bookshelves in quite some time." —SFX Magazine
"The most entertaining book that I have read in such a long time.... It's very funny, it's very clever, it's very nicely written.... It's such a treat." —Nancy Pearl
"Aaronovitch makes the story sing, building momentum until the ending is literally breathless.” —SF Revu
"Aaronovitch has a very witty, casual voice, with a tendency toward sarcasm and humor, which is threaded throughout Broken Homes. And a few crazy plot twists will devastate and delight fans in equal measure." —RT Reviews
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Top Customer Reviews
The novels in Ben Aaronovitch's "PC Peter Grant" (or "Rivers of London") series are:
1. Midnight Riot (PC Peter Grant Book 1)
2. Moon Over Soho (PC Peter Grant Book 2)
3. Whispers Under Ground (PC Peter Grant Book 3)
4. Broken Homes (PC Peter Grant Book 4)
5. Foxglove Summer (PC Peter Grant Book 5)
6. The Hanging Tree (Rivers of London)
Don't start here. Too much won't make any sense without the background, and there's very little fill-in; it just starts to GO and doesn't stop.
I love this series. It's a unique blend of urban fantasy, horror, humor, and police procedural. Peter is growing as a character, as are the people around him, all of whom are interesting. Things happen that cannot be ignored or undone and that drive events in future books. It's all written in Peter's voice, so we see things only through his eyes- and while he's not an unreliable narrator, he's not everywhere and knowing everything so nor are we. I like that. Everyone has his/her own motivations and struggles, from the minor to the gigantic. We're learning more about the way magic works, and also about the "demi-monde"- the more magical creatures in the world.
Highly recommended, both as a series and as a novel... but if you're not up-to-date in the series, catch up before this one! The first is "Midnight Riot" or "Rivers of London".
I was troubled by all of this early on in the book and wondered if Aaronvitch had lost focus, perhaps worn out his inspiration for this particular series and just churned the book out to meet a publisher's deadline. However, with the book's end and its unexpected denouement, I think that instead Aaronovitch deliberately constructed this book so that the end has (and certainly did for me at least) significant emotional impact: at the end you are meant to feel for Peter Grant, to feel the loss and pain that goes with being a policeman. The end would not have had the impact it did if Aaaronovitch had written this book the way he had the first three.
This book, I believe, deliberately immerses us in the often humdrum and boring world of day to day police work (abet with a magical edge); it shows us our heroes groping for information about a villain they know little about and who has always seemed one step ahead of them; it deliberately avoids the clear certainties of the first three books' plots and the meandering and everyday nature of the plot is meant to be a direct reflection of the meandering and humdrum nature of the heroes investigation: then Aaronovitch twists all these threads together in the last third of the book, delivering a series of heavy hits as all the pieces come together.
Aaronovitch is actually trying something fairly difficult with his writing and execution in this book, and it does always work; some sections taken standalone are, frankly, somewhat frustrating because you can't see their point; and it is certainly not a book that can be read except as the fourth book in a series and I am glad I only recently reread the first three novels. However, the end result, with the work taken as whole, is as good as the other books, if very different in tone and feel. Broken Homes' impact on me was undeniable: it left me feeling drained, empty and emotionally exhausted. It is, I suspect, a book that will be better on the second read through because you will be reading the early, seemingly unfocused chapters, with an awareness of how they actually impact on the plot, making them both more immediately interesting and, given Aaronovitch's style, causing all sorts of small asides to be noticed.
In many ways this books seems like Aaronovitch stepping up the series to something more serious. There was less humour (though I still laughed out loud on numerous occasions) and more serious and gritty crime and police work, and as I have repeatedly mentioned I found the end a real kicker. Kudos for Aaronovitch for trying something different rather than churning out a cookie cutter sequel and if the end result wasn't as much fun as the first three books, it was still a great extension to the series that left me staring at my screen out of breath, and desperately wanting more.