Over the last month, I’ve spent a bit more time reading, although I’m still not back to usual speed.
Still, I’ve been powering through a series I started the Christmas before last, and didn’t think I’d continue.
The Rivers of London series is a bit like Harry Potter meets police procedural: it follows PC Peter Grant, the latest recruit in a little known section of the Metropolitan Police, who deal with supernatural crimes in and around London.
I read the first novel about 18 months ago on a friend’s recommendation, and while I enjoyed it, I didn’t feel strongly enough to pick up the next book.
But when I popped into a local indie bookshop a few weeks ago, and spotted the whole series lined up neatly on a shelf, the colourful cover art caught my eye and I decided to buy book two, Moon Over Soho. And I loved it.
It’s a difficult book to describe without sounding completely bizarre – jazz vampires anyone?! – but it inspired me to continue the series, and I’m currently whizzing through book five.
Although each novel follows what appear to be separate cases, the stories are linked and the plot progresses through the series, which makes it hard to give a neat review of each book without spoiling the story for anyone who hasn’t read them yet.
Ben Aaronovitch’s novels have a unique feel to them, much of which is down to protagonist Peter Grant’s voice. The only child of a Sierra Leonean mother and a former drug addict and legendary jazz musician known as Lord Grant, Peter grew up on an estate in Kentish Town and narrates the story with wit and charm.
When he encounters a ghost during a routine patrol, he is introduced to DCI Thomas Nightingale from The Folly, who handles the capital’s ‘unusual’ cases. Peter soon finds himself recruited as an apprentice wizard, learning to balance magic with the demands of the modern police force. Interestingly, the Folly even has its own call-sign, with cases being referred to as ‘Falcon’. Although Peter is a relatively inexperienced policeman, he gets involved in complex cases thanks to his recently acquired special skills.
The books are full of bizarre characters and creatures, including a family of river gods who populate the waterways around the Thames, a woman with teeth in a sensitive part of her anatomy, and a possibly carnivorous unicorn. Some of the storylines are suitably grim, which contrasts nicely with the idea of a junior wizard buzzing around the Big Smoke learning magic spells and fighting crime.
There’s also a related series of graphic novels, if that’s your thing.
While I can’t wait to finish the current novel, the next book in the series isn’t out for a few months, so once I’ve finished, there’s no more Peter Grant for a while…