Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Review of Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch (2011, Gollancz)

Detective Constable Peter Grant is the first new addition to ESC9, Economic and Specialist Crime Unit 9, of the Metropolitan Police in fifty years. His new boss is training him to become a wizard capable of handling the magical crimes in the city. When Dr Walid at the morgue notices that jazz men keep dropping dead in trios, Grant is asked to investigate. It seems that something is feeding on the special talent that separates great musicians from others and it is hanging around Soho. Grant has some knowledge of jazz – his father being Richard ‘Lord’ Grant, a virtuoso trumpet player – and he recognizes the signature sounds of ‘Body and Soul’. When he’s not being distracted by his new girlfriend, he’s soon on the trail of a rogue magician. And where Grant goes, trouble is usually waiting, quickly joined by the murder squad.

Moon Over Soho is the second book in the Peter Grant series set in modern day London, which slots into the genre of urban fantasy police procedural. I was intrigued by the first book, but not bowled over by it. However, I loved the sequel from start to end. Aaronovitch manages to create all the elements of a good story – plot, voice, sense of place, context, characterisation – and make them work together in harmony. I was particularly taken with the voice, the little asides about London’s history and jazz, and observations about modern policy. The trick with good urban fantasy is to make it seem completely natural so the reader suspends disbelief without effort and the magical elements don’t jar or throw the reader from the story and Aaronovitch executes this very well. For an added bonus there’s a nice streak of humour running throughout.  The end is a little telegraphed, but not in a way that undermines the pleasure of the read. I'm now firmly hooked on the series and I’m looking forward to reading the next instalment.


Rick Robinson said...

Yes, an excellent series, and one I'm also enjoying. I'm just one book ahead of you.

Rob Kitchin said...

If you've other recommendations for similar kinds of series, would love to hear about them, Rick.