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Book Review: Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

Hidelly ho bookerinos! I trust you all had a lovely week? This week’s review is a book I’ve seen floating around for a while and always thought looked fairly interesting, I don’t need to find more series to read but since when has that stopped me?

‘Proriversbationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.’

This blurb was insanely hard to find, thanks Goodreads for using the US title only. How is Rivers of London off-putting to a US audience? And really how is Midnight Riot any better? I mean, I could of just copied the one on the physical book in front of me, but that requires moving.

Rivers of London is an urban fantasy adventure in which our hero, Constable Grant, must solve a series of gruesome murders involving faces that fall off while also attempting to mediate a peace treaty between the Old Gods of the Thames; Old Man River and Mama Thames. The two plots move along nicely, interweaving when necessary, but also leaving a few holes. I’m aware this is a series, so maybe the questions I have will be answered somewhere down the line, but I honestly don’t know why Tyburn had The Folly locked down or what she was looking for, it was never mentioned again. Aside from a few plot holes it is a nice easy read, despite the gory nature of the murders.

The characters are interesting, they are a nice, diverse lot, as befits London, and all have their own mysteries, which I am hoping are explored in more detail further on in the series. For example: What is Molly? Is Nightingale some sort of Dorian Grey type? What nefarious plot is Tyburn planning. I have a sneaking suspicion that the Rivers aren’t going to make a reappearance though, and I’ll never find out why Ty is such a bitch. Such is the way of crime novels: the supporting characters change constantly. I especially liked the voice of the narrator. Peter is a highly entertaining commentator, with a very British sense of humour. I like that he is aware of his failures as a person but doesn’t feel the need to dwell on them and mope.

A fairly easy read with some lovely British humour, its basic plot is intriguing but not entirely wrapped up well. I don’t understand the importance of the whole Punch and Judy thing for example, things just happen and we are expected to accept them with no explanation. The characters are amusing though, the main protagonist has a unique voice and I’ll quite happily read the sequel. So yeah, not bad enough for a 3 star but not good enough for 4. 3.5 stars.

3.5/5  ***1/2


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