Monday, 27 January 2014

Book review: "Rivers of London", by Ben Aaronovitch

It is unusual to come across a book that defies classification, but "Rivers of London" is such a book. At its heart is Peter Grant, a probationary constable working for the Met. He is partnered to an attractive fellow probationer, Lesley, whom he is utterly failing to have a relationship with.

When Lesley and Peter are called to the scene of a grisly murder in Covent Garden, Peter is surprised to find a ghost hanging around. Not just because he does not believe in ghosts, but also because the ghost tells him vital information about the murder.

Soon, Peter is inducted into The Folly, the Met's mysterious-crimes-and-magic division. What follows is a chase across London, featuring River Gods and Godesses, childrens' entertainment, nasty murders and rioting patrons of the Royal Opera House, all topped off with a trip into London's prehistory.

If that sounds a mess, then it is not doing the book justice, because Aaronovitch winds and merges these disparate ideas into a genuinely compelling story.

What matters in this book is the details, and the details are both imaginative and unintrusive. The police work is well researched (so much so I wonder if Aaronovitch has been in the force), and the details are described in such a way that they enhance, and do not interfere, with the flow.

In addition, the use of language is excellent, including a few laugh-out-loud moments. It is well-written, entertaining, and macabre in one package.

I would award this book four and a half out of five stars. It's sequel is sitting on my reading pile ...

1 comment:

Lonewalker said...

I heartily support your review. I loved this book and the three follow ups are just as good, developing the characters nicely.

Some nice twists as the series progresses too. It was recommended to me by a friend and I've passed on the recommendation a few time since.

If you finish the series and hunger for more, you could give Sergei Lukyanenko a try, he's done a series called Night Watch, which runs in a similar vein, but a little more rough and ready than Aaronovitch.