Fangs for the Fantasy's Reviews > Whispers Under Ground

Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch
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Aug 07, 12

Read in August, 2012

Peter Grant is back and he, Leslie and Nightingale are faced with the ongoing dilemma of wizards with dubious ethics wandering around London doing very very unpleasant things. It’s be useful to be able to focus on them – but, of course, other things arise.

Including a murder – a murder which Stephanopoulos and Seawall, doughty members of the murder squad that they are, believe involves funny magic stuff. Not that they ever use the m-word, nor do they expect it to be used around them; they just know it makes their lives much much more complicated. And to make matters worse and even more complicated, the victim is an American, and the son of a state senator at that.

It’s a case that takes them into the warrens of London’s underground –it’s sewers and it’s railways and it’s many many many many tunnels that go on for miles and have been centuries in the building. It’s a maze down there – and it’s beyond amazing what can actually hide down there, unseen, for so very long as they try to find the cause of the man’s death – and the many surprises awaiting them underground.

It’s another review of fulsome praise, I have to say. In some ways it’s easier to write a review with lots of dubious errors, pacing issues or diversity fails because at least you have something concrete to say. When a book is just awesome you’re presented with the difficulty of finding a sufficient diversity of superlative adjectives to try and fill a full review.

The book has an incredible feel of place. You can feel London in its pages, the attitudes, the people, the places, the procedures; this is London through and through. The richness and authenticity of not just the places, but also the history really shows through the book and makes everything so much more real. Despite the fantastic elements, it feels more fact than fiction because there is so much realness there. And not just in the places and not even just in the people, but also in the police procedures, the different jurisdictions, the way different things are handled, the way they were handled – and not just the way they’re officially handled, but also the daily practicalities of daily life.

The book is also funny with constant little side-references, tangents and wry observations about life, the city and everything linked with a cynical acknowledgement of how things are with an amusing twits that makes me repeatedly smile and laugh out loud. I’m not sure how much of it travels outside of a British context and British understanding, but to me it was perfect – amusing, injected lightness and fun and added yet further to the strong British feel of the book.

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