The second book in the Rivers of London series finds Peter Grant firmly ensconced in The
Folly, learning magic from Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, the last
policeman/wizard in London. While
progress is being made, Peter is still trying to master some of the
basics. He is getting good at
recognizing vestiga, those hints of
magic imprinted in places after incidents. This comes in handy when he’s called
to the scene of a crime and hears snatches of jazz music as part of the vestiga.
A few inquiries reveal that there have been several jazz musicians who have
died suddenly in recent weeks. An
amazing coincidence? Perhaps not.
There are also reports of a woman who has been
assaulting me in a.. um.. unique manner that definitely sounds out of the
ordinary. With his boss needing to stay
on the sidelines after a near-fatal incident, Peter is snooping about on his own.
This follow-up to Midnight Riot (US title) is
just as amazing as its predecessor.
Aaronvitch creates memorable characters.
Peter is modern, cheeky, and impetuous while Nightingale is definitely
old school, as in World War II. The
combination reminds me a bit of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin,
which is not a bad thing. The supporting characters are also well defined,
though they are viewed through Peter’s perspective.
Personally, I love all the information on London and
its history that Peter tosses out as he goes, usually in an amusing
fashion. This is similar to what I love
about Christopher Fowler’s Bryant and
May: Peculiar Crimes Unit series,
and they also investigate crimes that may or may not have a supernatural
origin. The big difference is that
Aaronovitch commits completely to the concept that there are magical things
afoot (or afloat) while Fowler sometimes gives plausible alternate explanations
and lets the reader decide if there was anything supernatural going on.
I also like folklore, so I thoroughly enjoy how Aaronovitch
takes such elements and puts a twist on them.
I’m finding the series to be highly addictive, and I’m
ready to take on the third book in the series.
At some point I’m also going to check out the graphic novel version, but
I harbor suspicions that I’m going to prefer the version I see when I read
rather than someone else’s interpretation.
Books in the series to date (best read in order):
Midnight Riot aka Rivers of London
Moon Over Soho
Whispers Under Ground
The Hanging Tree
Lies Sleeping False Value
Amongst Our Weapons