Fangs for the Fantasy's Reviews > Rivers of London

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
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May 16, 2012

it was amazing
Read in May, 2012

(In the US this book was released under the title Midnight Riot.)

Peter is a probationary police officer in the MET – just about to get his first real position. And it doesn’t look good – he’s a bit too easily distracted, doesn’t have much concentration and maybe not best fit for the job; a fine future of office work awaits him. At least until he meets Chief Inspector – he’s the MET’s wizard. And, after taking a witness statement from a ghost, it seems that Peter is perfectly placed to join that very unique police department.

It’s not the most conventional department – especially since he and Nightingale make up its entirety, along with a completely unknown non-human servant Molly (and a large library full of extremely old books). In addition to learning how to become a wizard, he’s also tasked with brokering a peace deal between Mama Thames and Old Father Thames – deities in all but name.

But the primary task is a series of horrendous and apparently random murders leaving people with their faces apparently falling off. The investigation of random culprits, ghosts, a couple of vampires, magic, gods of the London rivers and a rampaging Punch and Judy Show. It seems so random – but it all comes together excellently.

Sometimes I pick up a book set in Britain and I can tell it’s written by an American (anachronistic profanity and a heroin-like addiction to tea are normally involved), sometimes I’m not sure – and sometimes I know beyond a shadow of a doubt there is no way anyone but a British person could have written a book.

And this was most certainly one of those. Within seconds of opening the book I could feel the Britishness wafting off every page. There is a brilliant sense of time and place – this is London, you can feel London on every page. This is London as can only be written by a Londoner. In short, the setting is really well done with a full sense of history and local knowledge. The writing style is wordy – but concise, the descriptions giving an excellent feel of time and place and making the scene excellently real. Normally I am put off by too much description but this book hit the balance of making sure the whole scene was conveyed while not losing us in dense verbiage.

And that same level of detail applies throughout the book – not just the place settings. The author either has a background in policing or has gone to far more research than most. The book has the police procedure down perfectly. There’s no magical CSI (well, except actual magic) no random police units that don’t exist, no fudging of the issues and the procedures – it’s accurate.

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