Review – Rivers of London, Ben Aaronovich

Late to the game as ever, but I’ve heard so many good things about these books that I couldn’t resist. That and my foray into the London based sorcerer Matthew Swift had left me with a hankering to read another book set in my capital city.

Goodreads summary:

Probationary 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 was another fantasy/crime/mystery novel the like of which I’ve been reading a fair amount of recently, not sure why, one of those odd coincidences of life.

As we well know, one of the key aspects to a good fantasy novel that is set in ‘the real world’ is working out a way of integrating a (well thought out) magic system with everyday life. I think that Aaronovich’s method of making it a police (sort-of) sanctioned practice makes perfect sense – a given value of – and means that you can set aside your feelings of ‘wait what why would anyone just accept this as fact’ and just enjoy the story.

Peter Grant – our leading man – is a fairly fun guy to be in the mind of (the book is first person narrative), he’s certainly human, as you can tell from his many references to the temptations of the body parts of a fair amount of the women he encounters. But for the most part he is simply a ‘real’ person who Aaronovich has placed in this semi-real setting. It is also nice to read a book with a POC as a main character which I will confess I don’t think I do intentionally often enough (I have mentioned before that I’m trying to diversify my bookshelf).  First person narrative is never my preference but Peter was a likeable enough character who ‘thought’ in enough detail that I didn’t feel that I was losing out because I was only getting one perspective.

What really comes through is that Aaronovich has done his homework as far as police work is concerned. While I am in no way an expert and a real police officer might scoff, I felt like he created a believable police force. It also didn’t feel as though he was just trying to fit as many facts about police work in never mind if they worked with the plot or not. Well researched novels are the best novels (a mon avis).

The mystery itself is also interesting and done well enough that it is neither unbelievable nor mind-numbingly obvious from page four as some mystery novels are.I enjoyed the fantasy elements that were gradually unfolded and I thought that the more tragic elements of the plot were handled well and didn’t feel like gratuitous ‘sad things to develop character’.

All in all, I can see why people like this series, it’s funny, fast paced and has just the right amount of fantasy to make it suit dreamers like me. I know I’ve got a lot more reading to do if I want to demolish this series but keep your eyes peeled in the future as I promise to review them when I do. I just need to find the funds or the local library so that I can actually get my hands on them!

My Rating: 4.5 stars

Have you read this or any other books in this series? What’s your favourite book set in London? Let me know in the comments below, I love hearing from you guys!

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