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A magic wielding PC in a modern London, what could go wrong?
Rivers of London - Ben Aaronovitch
Member Name: darren55
Rivers of London - Ben Aaronovitch
Advantages: A lot of comedy
Disadvantages: Wanders a bit in the middle third
Rivers of London is the debut novel by Ben Aaronovitch, and tells the story of PC Peter Grant and his introduction to a magical underground London. The book begins with a murder at Covent Garden; PC Grant is given the job of keeping the area empty during the early hours and encounters a ghost who tells him that the man was killed by an entity that had a strange face. Grant doubts his own mental well-being after meeting the ghost and discounts the knowledge, however, he does encounter a mysterious Inspector Nightingale who he does mention the encounter too. Soon he is asked to join the special investigations force under Nightingale and to investigate the murder. Peter is of mixed race and this is mentioned a couple of times as a comedy element to explain his presence in the police force and his desires to become a detective.
This novel has been mentioned as a sort of Bill meets Harry Potter and there are aspects of both in the book, however, it's more Bill than Potter. PC Peter Grant is the main character and the book centres on his activities, thoughts and actions, through him we interact with characters in and around London. He is introduced to the world of magic and slowly becomes more proficient in certain spells and incantations, but he remains a policeman first and his investigations into this murder and another subsequent one soon bring him into contact with magical characters.
This book certainly has Harry Potter style moments, Peter's introduction into magic has elements of comedy which are similar to Harry's first fumbling's at Hogwarts and the mystery is conveniently solved using these rather simple tricks. The book is generally light in nature, slightly more mature than Potterworld but not by a huge margin, this book is perhaps aimed at the older teenage market rather than the 10-14 which Harry Potter is aimed at. There are a few sexual mentions and the obsession of Peter over one the suspects is definitely not for the younger market, we do encounter however a well-balanced novel. In this book, we are introduced to the forgotten rivers of London, not just the Thames but the Fleet and others and the river sprites associated.
I enjoyed the novel without being amazed; it rather lost its way in the third quarter but did have a satisfying end and left plenty of plot lines for the author to explore. By far the best parts of the book are the characters PC Peter Grant and the mysterious Inspector Nightingale, I suspect much more will be discovered in the future novels. The book has a slight Discworld element; there is a comic element in the use of a modern and very straightforward London with a magical element which has been explored by Terry Pratchett and Ankh Morpock. This book has a slightly different focus but the use of police officers as main characters does force this to happen.
So an encouraging start and I have the second book to read and hopefully review, it will be interesting to see how the author takes the storylines forward.
Summary: A good start to this series