Series: DC Peter Grant
Book Number: 1
Read this book for: dry humour, accurate police procedures, supernatural and magical elements, action, London and its history
Quick Review: A crime novel as funny as it is exciting, with loads of history and incredibly detailed police procedure packed in. One of my most recommended novels!
PC Peter Grant has reached the end of his probation period as a new constable and assigned to the Case Progression Unit, doomed to do paperwork. But his fate changes when he’s called out to play a minor role in crowd control over a particularly vicious murder, and happens to interview a key witness – who just happens to be a ghost. This brings him to the attention of DCI Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and the supernatural, and who also happens to be a wizard. His move to this new unit and decision to become an apprentice wizard could put his career – and life – in danger.
RIVERS OF LONDON (published in North America as MIDNIGHT RIOT) is the first story about DC Peter Grant written by Ben Aaronovitch. At the time of this review, there are 5 that have been published in the series, with a sixth potentially due out in 2017, and a few comics and graphic novels that exist in the universe.
I have to admit, this novel is slightly different fare for this blog; it’s definitely quite different from your standard detective story. I picked it up quite a few times and considered starting it, but never did because I thought the premise sounded almost too silly. Finally I got bored one day and when it came up on my TBR, I started it. I am so glad I did.
What I discovered was actually a meticulously researched crime novel. Aaronovitch has included levels of fine detail about the inner workings of the London Metropolitan Police that are extremely rare. I found myself highlighting things I didn’t know about Scotland Yard and the way it processes and handles crime that I came across in this book.
Those details are often delivered in an insider’s tongue-in-cheek manner, which brings me to the second thing I really love about RIVERS OF LONDON: it’s hilarious. If your sense of humour is a bit dry, you will enjoy this immensely. I don’t normally look for funny elements in a crime novel, but this one actually had me laughing aloud at some of the lines. It’s the sense of wry humour that Peter Grant uses that actually makes the most surprising thing about this novel work: the supernatural element.
I love Harry Potter, but I don’t read a lot of other magic-based fantasy. However, the skepticism Peter has about the magical elements, and the way that it is interwoven with the traditions and histories of London, actually makes this side of the story somewhat believable. And, to my surprise, it actually worked perfectly in this crime novel.
If you enjoyed Harry Potter and love crime fiction – or even one or the other – definitely pick up RIVERS OF LONDON. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending this book to almost anyone, regardless of their reading tastes!