Thumbs up for Rivers of London (US title: Midnight Riot) by Ben Aaronovitch. Fantasy.
Absolutely wonderful. I had to look up Aaronovitch’s bio to establish that he was not actually a cop: I wouldn’t have been surprised to find that he was, for the details about police procedure layered throughout Rivers are so concrete. I love that, because Peter Grant’s copper/failed scientist mindset makes him the perfect observer and investigator in this story of magical murders going on in London. And I love the fact that Peter’s world is our world – right down to the existence of Harry Potter. And, probably most of all because I just returned from London last month, I love the prominence of the city herself in the story; I’ve walked those streets, stood on those corners! The plot’s a bit loose, but I don’t feel like that was detrimental; rather, it just added to the feeling of naturalness. I highly recommend this, especially in the British edition, which has a cover that’s light-years cooler than the boring Americanized version.
Rush hour was almost in full flood when I got on the train, and the carriage was crowded just short of the transition between the willing suspension of personal space and packed in like sardines. I spotted some of the passengers eyeing me up as I took a position at the end of the carriage with my back to the connecting door. I was sending out mixed signals, the suit and reassuring countenance of my face going one way, the fact that I’d obviously been in a fight recently and was mixed race going the other. It’s a myth that Londoners are oblivious to one another on the tube: we’re hyper-aware of each other and are constantly revising our what-if scenarios and counter strategies. What if that suavely handsome yet ethnic young man asks me for money? Do I give or refuse? If he makes a joke do I respond, and if so will it be a shy smile or a guffaw? If he’s been hurt in a fight does he need help? If I help him will I find myself drawn into a threatening situation, or an adventure, or a wild interracial romance? Will I miss supper? If he opens his jacket and yells ‘God is great’, will I make it down the other end of the carriage in time?
If you enjoyed this post, please share it!