Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Review of Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch (Gollancz, 2011)
Rivers of London is a police procedural meets urban fantasy tale set in contemporary London. It follows the induction of probationary constable Peter Grant into a secret unit within the Metropolitan Police that investigates supernatural events and crimes within the city, and his attempts to negotiate a truce between the warring factions of the god and goddess of the Thames and to halt the murderous actions of a homicidal spirit. Grant – the son of a mother from Sierra Leone and white jazz player - has an interest in science, but didn’t achieve the grades necessary for University, and instead joined the police force where he seems destined for low-level administration. Instead, after a chance encounter with a ghost and Thomas Nightingale, the Mets resident wizard, he’s become the sorcerer’s apprentice – a role he’s not entirely suitable for, but is willing to try, especially if it’ll impress his good looking colleague, Leslie May. Those three characters provide an interesting set of leads and there is a good, cosmopolitan cast. Other strengths of the story are its dark humour, the snippets of history and geography, and the everydayness of the magic and mythical characters. The tale starts well, with a nice setup, but the story wanes a little in the middle before picking back-up, and Grant's teenage persona trapped in an adult's body gets a little wearing at times. Overall, an enjoyable start to the series and I plan to read the next book, Moon Over Soho.