This post is part of the 2016 April A to Z Challenge.
Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London was a huge surprise. Expecting a crime novel and police procedural, this book is so much more than that.
It all starts with Constable Peter Grant, an officer in the Metropolitan Police. He’s only supposed to take witness statements in a murder inquiry – and ends up interviewing a ghost.
Turns out there’s a Chief Inspector at the Met who is also the last wizard in England. And Peter Grant has just become his first trainee in decades, investigating cases that could have supernatural elements to them.
Rivers of London is refreshingly British. Sort of Scotland Yard meets Harry Potter (minus the wizarding school), and you can’t get much more British than that. Aaronovitch really knows how to write convincing dialogue incorporating British slang with just the right amount of sarcasm, and DC Peter Grant is a very well-written character and a narrator with a great voice. It’s smart and witty, without being patronising. It is also just as refreshing to see a non-white protagonist, especially as a detective of the Met, who is unselfconscious about his mixed-heritage ethnicity.
The author obviously knows London like the back of his hand. It is also pretty obvious that Aaronovitch is a proper geek as there are several references to the works of authors and scientists, as well as British pop culture. The amount of detail that goes into the police procedure descriptions is incredible.
The magic in this book is unique. The river Thames and her tributaries are in fact deities who are alive, and the Old Man of the River and Mama Thames are both fighting over the control of the rivers. There’s no silly wand-pointing. Peter and the Chief Inspector can pick up the essence that magic leaves behind, and they really use their full magical and non-magical arsenal to solve their cases.
Rivers of London is a great urban fantasy with the perfect mixture of detective story, magic, and British humour.
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥
Title: Rivers of London
Author: Ben Aaronovitch
Release Date: January 10, 2011
Note: In the US, this book is known as Midnight Riot