Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Jeanne Reviews: Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch


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

Broken Homes

Foxglove Summer

The Hanging Tree

Lies Sleeping False Value

Amongst Our Weapons

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