Title: Rivers of London | Series: Peter Grant #1 | Author: Ben Aaronovitch | Publisher: Gollancz | Publication date: January 20th, 2011 | Num. Pages: 400 | Genre: Urban Fantasy, Mystery
4 stars – A good concept of paranormal and police with humour abounding
“I used to be probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Service, and to everyone else as the Filth…”
Meet DC Peter Grant. He will show you his city. But it’s not the capital that you see as you make your way from tube to bus, from Elephant to Castle. It’s a city that under its dark surface is packed full of crime. And of magic. A city that you never suspected…
Gran’t story starts when he tries to take a witness statement from a man who was already dead. And take him down a twisting, turning centuries’ old mystery that reckons to set London on fire…
What Harry Potter would be like if he joined the fuzz
Rivers of London is quoted to be what Harry Potter would be like if he joined the fuzz. I’m not going to lie that would be well amusing.
Peter Grant as a character has got the kind of subtlety that smacks you in the face and tries really hard to act like it hadn’t. It was amazing.
Peter Grant is a twenty-something middle class mixed race man with a penchant for internal monologuing and an attitude like a hamster on speed – a million miles a minute.
Rivers of London follows Peter Grant’s journey an officer of the London Metropolitan Police Service and an apprentice wizard to Thomas Nightingale. It’s the apprentice wizard part I liked the most – typically you have one or the other either a copper or a wizard but Ben Aaronovitch has combined them beautifully. It’s funny and to the point but it also digresses off on tangents when Peter learns something new.
The story starts when Peter Grant tries to take a witness statement about a murder from a man who is already dead. This is my first inclination that I was going to like this book and it only gets better from there.
This story contains all sorts of paranormal beasties – river spirits, ghosts, vampires, a phantom Mr Punch from Punch and Judy, a revenant the list goes on. They’re all written really well too with good explanations of what they are and the forma that Peter learns as an apprentice.
Peter’s youth is a plus in this book as it gives him an edge over the older Nightingale – much older – and it also gives him an insight into how to deal with the feud between Mr Thames and Mama Thames. I’ll try not to give away too much of the plot but let’s just say when the title says Rivers it isn’t just a title.
Now I promise that Peter’s race has a bearing on the story, it was on one side interesting to hear the description of Peter’s mother and his jazz musician father and his life growing up but on the flip side it was good to see the discrimination in the police force addressed – albeit the manner was humourous rather than serious (a high ranking officer who is being racially abusive towards Peter gets cracked on the head by another officer who freaks out that he’s just hit the Assistant Commisioner on the head and knocked him out) the freaking out was the funny part.
I really liked how this book was written with its clear breaks between dialogue and prose and the way everything flowed together. I did not expect that ending though – it completely threw me and I’m so excited for the next book.