Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Jeanne Reviews: Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch

In the third of the marvelous and magical Rivers of London series, magician’s apprentice Peter Grant finds himself involved in an international incident.  American college student James Gallagher is found murdered in the tube near Baker Street.  The complications include not only vestige, signs that magic was involved in the murder, but also James Gallagher was the son of a U.S. Senator and an FBI agent is on the way to investigate.  It’s going to take a lot of finesse to keep the supernatural aspects way in the background until Peter and Inspector Nightingale (the last registered wizard in England) figure out just who or what caused Gallagher’s death.

It’s a trail that is going to take Peter back through several generations of a tangled family history, through underground tunnels, sewers, and other fun places

I’m trying to pace myself with this series because I enjoy the books so much and am going to be sad when I get caught up and have to wait a year or two for the next book to appear. I love the way Aaronovitch takes folklore and bends and blends it to make something fresh and new. I also love the way he drops in bits of London and British history as well as some social commentary along the way.  Most of all, I love the way he mixes adventure, magic, and humor.  For example, Peter has let slip to his West African mother that his work also involves the supernatural, which she likes because “she considered witchfinding a more respectable profession than policeman.”

My only quibble with this one had to do with jacket copy, not the book itself.  The jacket says that the FBI agent is “a born-again Christian apt to view any magic as the work of the devil. Oh year—that’s going to go well.” The phrasing led me to believe there would some fireworks or confrontation which never materialized. Sure, Peter is anxious to keep the magic aspects from her but I would expect that he’d be circumspect about magic around anyone he didn’t know well.  As I said, it’s a quibble.

This is a series you will want to read in order.

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