Regina's Reviews > Midnight Riot

Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch
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May 19, 11

bookshelves: first-reads, urban-fantasy-uf, favorites
Read from April 27 to May 19, 2011

3.75 stars. Midnight Riot is great start to a series and also is simply a fabulous new series for the urban fantasy world. This book is funny, not silly funny like Three's Company, but dry funny with an amazing delivery. Ben Aaronvitch makes very witty observations about human nature and delivers in such a way that it is funny. At the same time, he sets up an intriguing urban fantasy world, playing on existing mythology and bringing new stuff in. He even makes a few Harry Potter jokes.

The main character is the son of an African immigrant and a failed jazz musician, he is a newly made London constable and he is finding his way. This isn't a world where magic and the supernatural is known, instead Peter, the main character, is learning about magic along with the reader and Ben Aaronvitch is a great teacher. The characters are real, because of the way they are written, I felt like I knew the characters as people. The police investigation and technique stuff sort of dragged for me, that was the only part of the book I didn't care for and it brought down the rating -- but in all fairness, this book is about a police officer conducting an investigation. And the police technique is done well and seems convincing, but who am I to know about that? I recommend this book to people who enjoy urban fantasy, male points of view written by men, and additionally, those that like police investigation plots.

The book had solid writing and astute commentary. Here is an example, Ben Aaronvitch interrupts the story line to tell a seemingly non-related story but at the end he delivers the observation -- it is done so brilliantly ever single time. This example interrupts a riot scene:


"One of my mum's uncles once had tickets to Arsenal v spurs at Highbury and took me when his own son couldn't make it. We were down among season ticket holders, the hardest of the hard-core soccer fans who went there for the game, no the violence. Being in a crowd like that is like being caught in the tide -- you might try going in the other direction, but it drags you along all the same. It was a dull game, style wise, and looked to be heading for a nil-nil draw, when suddenly in injury time Arsenal made a late surge. As they got into the penalty area I swear the whole stadium, sixty thousand people, held their breath. When the Arsenal forward put it in the back of the net, I found myself screaming with joy along with the rest of the people around me. It was entirely involuntary."

Another keen observation:

If you ask any police officer what the worst part of the job is, they will always say breaking bad news to relatives, but this is not the truth. The worst part is staying in the room after you've broken the news, so that you're forced to be there when someone's life disintegrates around them. Some people say it doesn't bother them -- such people are not to be trusted.

Another good observation:

Despite what you think you know, most people don't want to fight, especially when evenly matched. A mob will tear an individual to pieces and a man with a gun and a noble cause is happy to kill ever so many women and children, but risking a fair fight -- not so easy. That's why you se those pissed young men doing the dance of 'don't hold me back' while desperately hoping someone likes them enough to hold them back. Everyone is always so pleased to see the police arrive, because we have to save them whether we like them or not.

Some of my favorite lines are below:

"Me and Nightingale did what all good coppers do when faced with a spare moment in the middle of the day -- we went looking for a pub."

He looked up, barked once and shot off toward King Street. "Get after him," said Nightengale.Two years running down drunks in Leicester Square had given me some speed and stamina. I lost ground when I had to dodge around a crocodile of Dutch tourists leaving the Theater. "Police," I yelled."Get out of the way." I didn't yell stop that dog -- I do have some standards."

"That's a load of wank," he said. " But at least it's convincing wank. In a couple of minutes we're going to take you down Hampstead nick, where a very nice lady from Scotland Yard is going to take your statements -- separately. And while I'm a beleiver in veracity in all things, I want to make it cleaer that there isn't to be an fucking mubo jumbo voodoo X-files shit in any fucking statement. Is that understood? ... As far as anyone else is concerned, normal fucking policing got us into this mess and normal fucking policing will get us out of it." ....
"Did he just ask us to lie to a senior officer?" I asked.
"Yep," said Leslie.
"Just checking," I said.
So we spent the rest of the afternoon bearing false witnesses in separate interview rooms. We were careful to make sure that while our accounts broadly agreed, there were lots of authentic-looking discrepancies. No one can fake a statement the way a policeman can.



If you are looking for a break from the female point of view urban fantasy world, but you still want to stay in the genre -- then this book is a great refreshing read. Just as an aside, this book has a different name in the UK: Rivers of London and a different cover. I like the UK cover more than the US cover.

Rivers of London (Peter Grant, #1) by Ben Aaronovitch

More of my reviews found at BaddAss Reviews.
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Reading Progress

04/28/2011 page 45
15.0% "This is already a new favorite!" 9 comments
05/02/2011 page 70
23.0% "Still freaking hilarious."
05/02/2011 page 43
14.0% "He looked up, barked once and shot off toward King Street. "Get after him," said Nightengale.Two years running down drunks in Leicester Square had given me some speed and stamina. I lost ground when I had to dodge around a crocodile of Dutch tourists leaving the Theater. "Police," I yelled."Get out of the way." I didn't yell stop that dog -- I do have some standards."
05/02/2011 page 55
18.0% "Me and Nightingale did what all good coppers do when faced with a spare moment in the middle of the day -- we went looking for a pub."
05/10/2011
51.0% "Still good, still funny, but I am sort of in a slow part -- lots of police investigation stuff."
05/18/2011 page 250
81.0% "I am finally back to this book, it is so damned funny!" 3 comments
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Comments (showing 1-47)




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new_user Congrats!


Regina Thanks! It is looking like a good read


new_user Oh, you're reading it now? Hmmm, debating whether to join in...


Regina Oh you have it too? Definitely join in!


The Flooze You know you waaaaannnttt toooooo...


Regina I forgot how much I like urban fantasy Stories written by men. I loving this.


The Flooze I think I prefer them!


Regina Besides Jim Butcher I haven't tried any others. Which male UF authors do you like?


new_user LOL. I am tempted...


Regina I love the voice/personality so far of the main lead. It reminds me as a blend of Rob from In the Woods, Vic from Among the Living and then the humor and snark reminds me of Harry in the Dresden files. But it is still a unique presence. I just love being in his head. But still not too far in, ony 40 or so pages, but I am tempted to buy #2 right now.


new_user I knew I was going to read it when I read this: "We maintain a strictly professional relationship despite my deep-seated yearning to climb into her uniform trousers." LOL.


Regina That is hilarious, loved that line. The author often leads with something that appears serious, but then is suddenly hilarious.


new_user He has good timing, LOL.


Catie You had me at "Rob from In the Woods."

Placing a hold at my library!


Regina LOL Catie. I am a sad case, but I loved the relationship and the time Cassie and Rob shared. I was so ticked at him, but understood he had serious issues. I would love to see them as friends again. How did you feel about that? French has said she may write about Rob and Cassie again. I am really looking forward to Broken Harbour which is being released in August/September.

But warning -- I am ony 45 pages in! Still setting up the character and the world. Still it is pulling me in.


Catie I just love how, with each of her novels, I fall completely into the head of the narrator. With Rob, I was totally heartbroken and lost. Then with Cassie, I saw Rob's behavior in a totally new light. And, I sobbed when it was revealed that (view spoiler) I loved Frank's family dynamics. All of her characters are completely different but she has a real talent for channeling them all so fully!

I am so excited for Broken Harbour too! I bet Scorcher is really different than how Frank sees him.


Regina What I forgot about that? When did she do that? French has a talent for writing about people and relationships. She gets it, she gets the dynamic that makes it all real. Faithful Place was by far my favorite -- but when I started the series I never would have guessed that would be my favorite. I agree about Scorcher. I didn't want to read about Frank -- but loved him by the first 25% of the story!


Catie Page 444: (view spoiler)

I love that part!!! Uh, it just guts me.


Regina Oh my goodness! I listened to the narration of that one and completely missed it! OMG. I remember the beginning part of that passage but completely missed the end. Oh wow. Thank you for sharing. It guts me too!


Catie No problem. I had fun looking that up...I honestly think that one scene might be the main reason that The Likeness is my favorite of the three.

Really jonesing for Broken Harbour now. Boo-hoo.


Regina The Likeness was my favorite at the time. I loved the house -- and the relatinships between the four. Great stuff! Me too, haha. Soon enough and at least we have good books to occupy us until then.


message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

Lol..I feel like im eavesdropping :) Regina, I found the pace of Midnight Riot rather slow with little to no action to break up the monotony but overall I did enjoy the novel. I did love Aaronovitch's humor and think he has the makings of good author with a bit of time :) Now I'm going to have to look up some of the books yall have mentioned. Most of the UF I read are by female authors :)


Regina LOL, I guess it was a side conversation. :) Psycops is by a woman and likely doesn't appeal to most men -- but I think the writing is solid and it is interesting stuff. Tana French writes a psychological thriller series that I would actually classify as literary fiction, that is the In the Woods we were referring to above.

Have you read Simon Green? I keep meaning to start his series, I have heard it is good. I peeked at your profile earlier today and saw that you already have the Dresden Files covered. That is one of my al time favorites.


message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

Lol...ugh, ignore my booklist. I tried to list everything I've read and got quickly tired. Listing thousands of books one by one is just insane! I have read and really enjoyed Simon Green along with Harrison, Harris, Briggs and a few others. I'm walking the line between UF and PNR I suppose


Catie That's interesting that you love the Dresden files.

I gave the first book 2 stars and I didn't really like it, but it seems like quite a few people love them. Maybe we can make some sort of pact wherein I read a Harry Dresden book for every Hollows (Rachel Morgan) book that you read :)


Regina Oh Catie (before I agree to a pact lol), let me tell you that the first two HP books are mediocre, but beginning with #3 the get better and better, I would say by #4 or 5 that they are fantastic.

I do plan to read Harrison, my neighbor is really wanting me to and I feel bad, so I will! I hope you give #3 HP a try, I think you will find it worth it. The audio performance is fantastic, I think I listened to audio through book 4, and at book 5 switched to reading them.


@ Grant, it is impossible to get all the read books up there. I keep hearing good stuff about Gree, I need to read him -- is he comparable to Butcher in your opinion? Harris is fun, but nothing spectacular, but I do keep reading her. I like Briggs alot. I stopped after the first in Harrison's series, I need to give #2 and 3 a try before I officialy give up the series. I am not a fan of PNR and I prefer my UF without strong romance themes, but it is hard to find. There is a thread around here on GR somewhere that has a list of male authored UF series, I keep meaning to dig into that list.


new_user No action, you say?! o.o


Catie Soo...could I just skip to #3? I listened to the first one, and I love James Marsters, but he breathes a swallows A LOT. It's something that I'm really sensitive to. I think that I will give them another chance.


Regina Yes. Skip ahead to #3. To funny about the swallowing. I never noticed!


Catie Yes...I think that I have a real problem with that. It's the one thing about a narrator that can really drive me insane. Okay, off to check out #3.


message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

I actually started reading Charlaine Harris because she's one of my neighbors. Super, super nice lady but it's a bit weird to read the sex scenes and then picture this very matriarchal woman I see at the grocery store :) lol

I tried Harry Potter and nearly shot myself after the first book. I'm just not cut out to read books aimed at children. The simple writing/dialogue just Killed me. I've heard many say it gets much better after the third but I just could never fight my way that far. I do enjoy the Rachel Morgan series though..her latest effort was likely the best to date. I need to find something to tide me over until Ghost Story is released in July. Let me know if you find that thread :)


message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh and Green isn't comparable to Butcher but he's really quite good. He writes scifi as well as fantasy but his two fantasy series are set in adjoining worlds and there's crossover between the characters. Nightside leans more towards horror fantasy while Secret Histories is straight UF. I recommend them both ;)


Catie Wow, that's quite thrilling that she's your neighbor!

I agree, Pale Demon was the best Rachel Morgan. Luckily, if I get hooked on Harry, I'll have something to tide me over until July - the ten books that I haven't read yet.


new_user He writes scifi too? :?


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Yup. He wrote the Deathstalker series which is most definitely Scifi. Oh, and Catie, if you enjoy Rachel Morgan, I can't help but think you'll end up loving Dresden. Give him another try and see if he doesn't grow on you :) The books get better and better


new_user Thanks, Grant. Good thing they have that series section on the author pages now, or I'd never have picked out that series from all his books, LOL. Hope I'll like 'em. I usually don't like long series, but maybe he'll be an exception.


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

No problem, my friend. I hope you enjoy them :)


message 10: by Regina (last edited Apr 30, 2011 03:22PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Regina Grant here is the thread about male UF authors, hopefully there is something there you haven't read yet. I have some comments and responses but I have been busy all day with kids' softball and tball games .... but I will be back. :)

Harris as a neighbor!!!!!


Regina Oh and I will say that Harry Potter 1-3 are nothing like HP 5-7, 4 is the transition there, but I do understand not being able to get through a juvenile book. Although I think 5-7 is definitely high level YA.


new_user Here's another male authors/protagonists thread.


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Found a lot of authors I'm unfamiliar with which is always a true joy :) I honestly think I've read 95% of all epic fantasy in print so I'm thrilled to be such a UF noob ;) Thanks again, yall


Regina Great! I love finding new authors. I am trying to decide which Simon Green is better to read first, looks like he has two highy rated UF series, I may start there.

Very very cool that you live next to Harris. Her picture is very different than someone I would imagine writes the Sookie series. But she seems to fit someone I would imagine that writes her other series.

Okay my neighbor asked me again about Rachel Morgan, so I guess I will be reading it soon! Catie, if you find yourself loving Harry (which I think you will be in love with the series by books 5 or 6, you will be dying (haha, for Harry fans you might get that) for the next Harry book which is out like Grant said in July. Grant are you doing any re-reading before Ghost Story comes out?


Catie Great! I already placed a hold on book #3!


Regina Audio (so more swallowing?) or the real book?


Catie I went for the ebook instead :) I have issues!


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

I read Sidejobs the other day, Regina and I've been considering reading the last couple of books. I have too many other books I want to read to do a full series reread this month but I could likely do so in June.


Lady Jaye Great review, Regina!


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