Friday, 7 February 2014

Book review: "Moon over Soho" by Ben Aaronovitch

When jazz musicians start dying of natural causes shortly after completing their sets, DC Peter Grant tries to find connections between the men. Can he find the answer before his own famous jazz-playing father becomes a victim?

I've read (and reviewed) the first book in this series, "Rivers of London", and thought it was a brilliant read. In it, a probationer constable with the Metropolitan Police, Peter Grant, discovers that there is a magical side to life in the capital. He becomes an apprentice to Nightingale, the last magician in the force, and moves to live in the Folly, a grand house in Central London.

This second book is slightly less inventive than the first (the narrative world has already been created), and the plot is slightly less manic and easier to follow. We learn more about the central characters: from Nightingale's activities in the Second World War, to Molly, the servant who refuses to leave the Folly. This adds a depth that was missing in the first book, especially as a villain is created that could last through several more books.

There are a couple of places that an editor could have done a better job - for instance the explanation of  a 'nominal' in the HOLMES2 police computer is repeated, and there are a couple of other repetitions. Aside from these, the prose is fresh and the descriptions vivid. DC Grant's voice is brilliantly compelling and I found myself bathing in it: he is a truly great character, and the first-person voice is lively and realistic.

I really don't like jazz, but I found the jazz side of the plot was cleverly more about the personalities than the music - especially the band that hang around DC Grant because of his father's fame. It was well handled, and to my surprise I found it appealing. It takes skill to write a plot that revolves around the world of jazz, without annoying someone who has no love for the music.

The first book in the series was laugh-aloud funny, and that it continues in this sequel with lines such as: "Nobody kills a suspect in a police station and gets away with it - at least nobody without a warrant card."

I would give this book four out of five stars, and I look forward to reading the next in the series: "Whispers Underground".

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