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I loved the first two books in this series, based around trainee wizard Peter Grant, who works in the special magical branch of the Metropolitan police force, and so I picked the third instalment up without hesitation.
The central story-line follows the murder of an American student at an Underground tube station. It at first appears to be a simple case of stabbing, but the residual traces of magic in the air suggest it may be more complex than that, and so the special branch are called in; Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, and his apprentice, Peter Grant. There are now joined by WPC Lesley May, beginning to recover from her trauma at the end of the first book, having taught herself magic. As the investigation progresses, the pair begin to suspect that there may be a community living deep beneath the tube lines and sewers of London, a community the deceased was well aware of. This leads to claustrophobic investigations deep beneath the streets of London.
While still good, this book didn't quite match up to the previous ones. One of the things I love most about the series is the little sub-plots, and this has disappointingly few of those. From the first book, we have been told that Nightingale is the last wizard in England, though there were hints in the second that this was not the case; there were in fact a few practitioners still remaining, and secretly training apprentices. However, while not forgotten about in this book, no new information is given, which was disappointing, given that I was expecting this to be a long-running plot point. The real attraction of these books is the way in which ordinary London life is juxtaposed with hidden magic in a perfectly plausible manner, and in this, the charm still remains. I also really like the character development in this book. Leslie's overcoming of her issues is touchingly portrayed, showing that Ben Aaronovitch is capable of much more depth than the light-hearted humour we are used to, and the relationship between her and Peter matures. This book is just as filled with dark humour as the others, although it is still fairly crude in places, which might not be too everyone's taste. Overall, not as good as I have come to expect, but I would still recommend it, though probably only if you have read the previous two books first.