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Rivers of London #2

Moon Over Soho

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The song.

That’s what apprentice wizard and London Metropolitan Police Constable Peter Grant first notices when summoned to the local morgue to view the corpse of Cyrus Wilkinson, part-time jazz drummer and full-time accountant, who dropped dead of a heart attack while playing a gig at Soho’s 606 Club. He, along with Scottish pathologist Dr. Abdul Haqq Walid, hears the distinct notes of an old jazz standard emanating from the body—a sure sign that something about the man’s death was not as normal as it might first have seemed, since only something supernatural leaves such an imprint.

Body and Soul.

They’re also what Peter will risk, as he investigates a pattern of similar deaths in and around Soho. With the help of his superior officer, Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, the last practicing Newtonian wizard in England, and the questionable assistance of voluptuous but old-fashioned jazz groupie Simone Fitzwilliam, Peter will uncover a deadly magical menace—one that leads right to his own doorstep, with an unexpected connection to the squandered promise of a young jazz musician: a talented trumpet player named Richard "Lord" Grant—otherwise known as Peter’s dear old dad.

375 pages, Hardcover

First published October 13, 2011

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About the author

Ben Aaronovitch

150 books11.2k followers
Ben Aaronovitch's career started with a bang writing for Doctor Who, subsided in the middle and then, as is traditional, a third act resurgence with the bestselling Rivers of London series.

Born and raised in London he says that he'll leave his home when they prise his city out of his cold dead fingers.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,057 reviews
Profile Image for Nataliya.
714 reviews11.4k followers
July 28, 2016
Dear Peter Grant, you are about to knock Harry Dresden off his pedestal. And that's not an easy thing to say for me, a devout Dresdenite. But this book was just that much fun.

Should I call myself a Grantite now? How about a hug then? Oh wait...
"For a terrifying moment I thought he was going to hug me, but fortunately we both remembered we were English just in time. Still, it was a close call."
How can a true nerd like me NOT love this book and its protagonist? Peter Grant, a wisecracking apprentice magician is not only incredibly funny, self-deprecating, non-misogynistic in the slightest, intelligent, and an actually good representation of a real early twenty-first century young man, but also has all makings of a natural-born scientist. He performs controlled experiences with his newfound magic, forms hypotheses that he proceeds to test, and applies scientific principles. He actually contemplates the nature and the origins of magic instead of just accepting it as a given. He is shown actually working on his skills, practicing them and experimenting with new approaches. And he talks science!
"I had jokingly developed my own scale for vestigia based on the amount of noise Toby made when he interacted with any residual magic. I called it a yap, one yap being enough vestigia to be apparent even when I wasn't looking for it.

The yap would be an SI unit, of course, and thus the standard background ambience of a Central London pub was 0.2 of a yap (0.2Y) or 200 milliyaps (200mY).
Peter Grant is hilarious, often in a dry, very much non-slapstick way. He is firmly in touch with the modern life, and it is seamlessly integrated into the novel. He also pokes fun at the things that in the hands of the less able writer than Ben Aaronovich would have come out as borderline offensive, but they work in this book. An example of this is Peter teaching his (very old) teacher not to refer to the 'ethically challenged' wizards as 'black magicians' since Peter, who is of mixed race, could technically be viewed as such - while explaining why he is reluctant to call Nightingale 'master'.
"When you're a boy your life can be measured out as a series of uncomfortable conversations reluctantly initiated by adults in an effort to tell you things that you either already know or really don't want to know."

Just like in the previous volume, we get more of the author's love for London and learn snippets about the city's history, often tragic. And I love it! I enjoyed the descriptions of Soho, Peter's opinions about different kinds of Londoners, and the entire atmosphere of a huge, thriving, very urban, multicultural city. London is definitely going on my to-visit-no-matter-what list - someday, when I actually have free time to do so.
'There's more to life than just London,' said Nightingale.
'People keep saying that,' I said. 'But I've never actually seen any proof.
I liked what little I saw of Peter and Leslie's relationship in this book after . I loved how supportive he is while at the same time avoiding the overt sentimentality or wallowing in guilt. And after the way this book ended - the best sorta-cliffhanger that I've read in the recent past, by the way - I cannot wait to see what happens to those two in the next book (which, of course, I have already bought with my birthday Amazon gift card).
"Every male in the world thinks he's an excellent driver. Every copper who's ever had to pick an eyeball out of a puddle knows that most of them are kidding themselves."
I enjoyed the short and apt descriptions of the British police system as well. While often detailed, they never seemed like info-dumps and were humorous enough to never let my attention falter. Aaronovich never glorifies police work, but he also does not follow the stereotype of 'big bad cops' that is so easy to fall back on. He makes his 'coppers' seem like real people with all the imperfections and idiosyncrasies and enough lovable qualities - basically real. While still poking fun at them, of course!
"It's a truism in policing that witnesses and statements are fine but nothing beats empirical physical evidence. Actually it isn't a truism because most policemen think the word 'empirical' is something to do with Darth Vader, but it damn well should be."
The plot of this book, while still leaving a bit to be desired, was tighter than that of the first volume (that, or I have gotten used to the world of this series). It was easy to follow, however, and in the end things turned out a bit different than what I expected - which is a reminder for me to not get all smug thinking that I know exactly what is going to happen and not to judge the characters prematurely
Basically, I adored this book and had a great time reading it. Harry Dresden, you've got some serious competition! 4.5 stars for the sheer amount of enjoyment, and very high recommendation. I can't wait to see what the next book in the series brings!
And here is my review of the first book in this series.
For the review of the sequel, Whispers Underground, please head over here.
The review of the newest book in the series, Broken Homes, is here.
Profile Image for Annet.
570 reviews710 followers
December 15, 2019
Men have died for this music.
You can't get more serious than that... Dizzy Gillespie

So... this is not my general genre of book. But in a range of dark books this is very welcome out of the box & fun book! I had to get used to Peter Grant of Ben Aaronovitch, convinced by my goodreads friend Caro M. to give it a go. Peter Grant is a junior magician. Fun! Sounds like Harry Potter? Well it isn't ;-). It's a bit more raw and pretty d*mn funny. Love the scenes of London, one of my favorite cities, colourful impressions of Soho. A fun distraction, will definitely follow the series. Now, it's back to the darkness of three other books.... ;-)

It was clear to DC Grant that is was no heart attack that had killed jazz saxophonist Cyrus Wilkinson. Someone, or something, is stalking the streets of Soho - drawn to that special gift that separates the great musicians from the rest...
Profile Image for carol..
1,504 reviews7,572 followers
May 22, 2021
Moon Over Soho is an enjoyable, satisfying sophomore entry into the Peter Grant series about a London constable who is now working in magical law enforcement.

Peter calls on Leslie after the brutal ending of the first book. As he leaves, he's called to the morgue where Dr. Walid wants Peter to note the definite vestigia about a dead man. Peter gets a clear sound of jazz sax, the kind of clue that only comes with strong magic. The team is still trying to protect Nightingale, recovering from a gunshot wound, so Peter is mostly on his own. As Peter traces the steps of the jazz musician's life, he ends up meeting his former girlfriend Simone as well as his band-mates, who become Peter's Irregulars. Not long after, Detective Stephanopoulos calls Peter to another body, this in the Groucho Club where a man is found missing his "wedding night tackle," quite possibly torn off with a set of teeth. Tracing the circles of the two men brings Peter back into contact with his dad and the legacy of jazz. Occasionally, Peter even works on improving his magical skills.

Like the best detective mysteries, the setting plays a crucial role. London and its history comes alive through Grant's thoughts on the history of police graft, the evolution of jazz, and the origin of the HOLMES database. Along with the London setting, there's a fair amount of British slang and police terms: "copper," "nick" and "taking the piss" are the easiest to figure. Aaronovitch doesn't usually explain in passing, so sometimes meaning is a challenge to pick up, although I finally understood what 'bollocks' refers to. However, I felt like it adds to the flavor of the book rather than detracts.

As usual, Aaronvitch's humor continues to shine, although there's a healthy balance between sarcasm and seriousness. Overall, the language is fun and sophisticated, and a thorough reading will generate a lot of chuckles, particularly in scenes with Peter and Stephanopoulos. An early example of the fine balance: "Every hospital I've ever been in has had the same smell--that whiff of disinfectant, vomit and mortality. UCH was brand new, less than ten years old, but the smell was already beginning to creep in at the edges except, ironically, downstairs in the basement where they kept the dead people."

Plotting is perhaps the weakest element for me. While I enjoyed the story, I found myself frequently frustrated with Peter, particularly in light of all his references to "years of walking the beat" and references to coppers' habitual suspicion. As I've mentioned more than once, I'm not particularly good at guessing who the villain is, so if I have suspicions, the author is either purposefully telegraphing or needs to work on plotting. In this case, I'm not sure which it is: while Peter is being incredibly dumb in dating the girlfriend of a murder victim, is this author intention to make him seem fallible? Or just lazy plotting? In this case, it also led to a couple of shagging interludes that seriously distracted from the mystery plotting. The wrap-up was somewhat problematic . However, it made a certain amount of sense in context of Peter's multicultural heritage and trying to educate Nightingale about the term 'black' magic.

I particularly enjoyed Peter's interacts with Leslie in her post-trauma state. The most common way authors seem to handle tragedy in their male protagonists' lives is through excruciating guilt and by telling the reader about the guilt. Instead, Peter visits, texts, and calls. He's used to bouncing ideas off Leslie, and this trend continues. There are hints at his guilty feelings, but they do not dominate their interactions or Peter's thoughts.

Overall, I didn't love this quite as much as most of the other books in the series--but as that was a five star read, that's still shouldn't be considered a detraction (Rivers review). It is my one of my favorite series, and the best in UF detection.

Re-read May 2016
Profile Image for carol..
1,504 reviews7,572 followers
May 22, 2016
My review of Moon of Soho.

Holdbrook-Smith continues to shine as a narrator. His vocal talent brings both Peter and the many people he interacts with to live in a way one doesn't quite get while reading. First time he voices Leslie using her iPad text-to-speech function was brilliant. However, when he voiced Leslie speaking on the phone, I found it partly unintelligible but still good. When Leslie later spoke in person with Peter, voicing was back to brilliant. I have to say, I loved his voicing of James, the Scottish drummer, although the accent bled into the next character once or twice. Still, dialogue done between the band and Peter was fabulous--I actually could keep all the characters straight. I also continue to love Nightingales' 'posh.' I'm not entirely sure I love his voicing of Simone, but I ultimately decided it was because I didn't like the character, not his voicing.

There was one recording blip, at the end of Chapter 12, when it suddenly spliced into an earlier section. It persisted despite replaying. However, I consider that a technical issue more than a book issue.

The jazz transitions between chapters are particularly appropriate in this book and I appreciate the solid transition.

Audio May, 2016 with Naomi. Many thanks to her for inspiring me to get moving on the audio of this series!
Profile Image for Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥.
516 reviews34.4k followers
January 5, 2018
If I had to describe this series in a few words it probably would be the following:

Dark, magical, creepy, humorous, intriguing and unique.

I love the fact that Ben Aaronovitch just took the usual fantasy wizard tropes and placed them in the setting of present-day London. He mixed them up with vampires, history, creepy immortals, Jazz and a more than just good portion of very British humour.

”The space is crisscrossed at random intervals by escalators, presumably because the architects felt that disorientation and an inability to find the toilets were integral parts of the shopping experience.”

In short he somehow managed to write a very unique and interesting story. ;-P
Plus the many different characters in this book were all so intriguing and human. Well, despite the fact that some of them actually weren’t human. *lol*

Anyway! I think Peter Grant is a very likeable and cute main character and his naiveté and innocence sometimes really made me laugh. That poor boy has no idea what he got himself into when he signed up to be the apprentice of Nightingale and even though he’s very young and inexperienced his heart is still in the right place. XD I guess sometimes he’s too honest and tender-hearted for his own good, but to me this only makes him even more amiable. ;-)

”For a terrifying moment I thought he was going to hug me, but fortunately we both remembered we were English just in time. Still, it was a close call.”

I wish we could have seen more of Thomas Nightingale and Molly but considering their current situation it was logical that Thomas wouldn’t be all too active in “Moon over Soho”. Still, I kind of soaked up every moment he was mentioned in the book and he’ll forever be my hero! XD I just love that man, I have no idea why but I guess it might be his British charms. ;-P Haha!

What else?

I l.o.v.e.d Ash’s brief appearances! *lol* He’s such an easy going guy and the fact he had no prejudices against other sexualities just made him even more appealing and lovable! =)) <333

Concerning the case:

There were again some pretty scary and disgusting scenes and the moment with Larry really gave me the creeps!!! *shudders* Ben Aaronovitch definitely has a gift to write disturbing moments that really get under your skin. In general this time around the plot wasn’t as interesting as in “Rivers of London”, it was nice enough to keep me entertained though.

The bottom line:

I really enjoyed “Moon over Soho”. It was a nice and quick read that kept me entertained and if I’m entirely honest I’m more than just curious if Peter’s love life is ever going to improve! *lol*

”I decided to invent some rules just so I could add a new rule to the rules: Never diss somebody’s mum, never play chess with the Kurdish mafia, and never lie down with a woman who’s more magical than you are.”

Guess we’ll find out in the next books! ;-P

Profile Image for Adina.
780 reviews2,955 followers
February 7, 2017
Yes, now we're talking!

I could not give 4* to the first book in the series although I wanted to. I became an instant fan of the writing, the world, the humor and felt in total sink with the author' s love for London, which can be observed in every page. My problem was with the plot which was all over the place. I am happy to say that this is no longer the case (most of the time) in Moon over Soho and the novel gets from me the praise it deserves.

Peter Grant is a great character and I cannot wait to read the follow-up later this year.

Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,851 followers
August 28, 2021
Re-read 8/28/21

As good as I remember and for all the same reasons. :)

Original Review:

Must love jazz.

Well, not really, but I could almost taste the love for jazz throughout this novel. Peter's dad was once a jazz legend, after all, and so it's not so hard to have his son pick up a bit of the love, if not the talent. This aspect of the novel was pretty nigh awesome. :) Flitting around the London Jazz scene, hunting down Jazz vampires... you know, those pesky varmints that nest in the musician's ear and suck out their brains and make them do really stupid things...

Or something like that. Maybe Jazz people are naturally messed up. But that doesn't mean that there aren't Jazz Vampires!

This second book in the series is spot on and very cool in the character department. There's less of the tropes and more of being a damn fine human being. The opening of the novel highlights this. I think I'd give it ten stars all by itself. Less guilt and more being a good friend. Hell yeah. :)

The rest of the novel runs like a jazz song... smooth, reoccurring riffs, and a baseline that, while not always steady, always came back into fine form.

That, and it's a great police procedural.. um... JAZZ POLICE... and magician-in-training novel. :) I continue to be very impressed. This is some of the very best detail-oriented and depth-of-character Urban Fantasies I've ever read, and I admit to having read a TON.

Totally recommend.
Profile Image for Sam Quixote.
4,427 reviews12.7k followers
March 13, 2018
Vampiric witches are preying on London’s most gifted jazz musicians – Peter Grant, the Fuzz’s newest (and only) apprentice magic cop, is on the case!

Moon Over Soho is a bit of a disappointing follow-up to Ben Aaronovitch’s spectacular Rivers of London and I think I know why. Rivers of London had two barnstorming storylines running parallel throughout – the Mr Punch murders and the River Gods’ gang warfare – as well as Peter learning about the hidden magical side of London; there was never a dull moment as Aaronovitch jumped from one to the other.

Comparatively, Moon Over Soho just has the one storyline: jazz vampires – so there’s no secondary storyline to look forward to if one fails to entice; and unfortunately it doesn’t. Putting aside that I’m not at all interested in jazz to start with – it’s unlistenable nonsense – there aren’t many surprises along the way and the case plays out quite flatly. Peter’s romance with Simone was boring and the Strip Club of Dr Moreau thing was pointless. Generally not enough was happening to hold my attention and I found myself zoning out quite often.

I really enjoyed catching up with Lesley and finding out how she was coping after the events of the last book – her scenes with Peter were my favourite parts. The world-building continues strongly with Nightingale introducing Peter to the wider magical society in Oxford and some more of the mystery of Ettersburg is revealed. I really liked that a Moriarty-type villain has been brought in who’ll hopefully act as a deliciously evil antagonist going forward. Aaronovitch’s writing remains top-notch and effortlessly accessible and I love the detailed history of the city he drops in every now and then, adding to the richness of the narrative. And that final page is a hella cool cliffhanger.

Moon Over Soho isn’t nearly as good as Rivers of London but it’s a fairly decent sequel - it definitely hasn’t put me off this series though I hope the next one’s better.
Profile Image for Emily B.
419 reviews414 followers
February 26, 2022
I listened to the audiobook which was great. It has a good narrator and was nice and easy to follow.
Definitely easy feel good listening
Profile Image for Lois Bujold.
Author 154 books37.5k followers
December 26, 2012
Sequel to Rivers of London aka (in the US) Midnight Riot, which I read and reviewed here last week, and which I would link if I could figure out how. Start with that one, not this one, but you may as well pick up all three while you're at it. It will save steps. (#3, now in my library queue, is titled Whispers Underground.)

No sophomore slump here, I'm happy to report. Upon longer consideration, what the prior book and this one also remind me of is the movie Men in Black -- the good first one, not the weirdly inferior sequel -- except, being Old World instead of American, with magic instead of sci-fi aliens. (Although the latter have not been ruled out, I suppose, if the series wends on. But it's apparent Aaronovitch hasn't run out of material yet.) The central relationship between the hero (who is not an orphan! yay!) and his mentor has some lovely inter-generational stuff, and not just the jokes about older people's sometimes-adversarial relationship with advancing technology.

I like what the storyline is doing with PC Leslie May, so far (medical background, here), and the fact that being shot through the lung also has actual appropriate lingering consequences. (It's also a plot convenience, but I'll give the author that one. I also have a soft spot for hurt/comfort.) I am less thrilled with the one-book lifespan of the love interest -- becoming the girlfriend of the hero in a men's action series is an even more ill-advised lifestyle choice than becoming his mentor -- but there were enough other active female characters with enough other fates that I'll spot the author this one, too, as long as he doesn't make it a habit. Because "screw 'em and slay 'em" appears as enough of a repeating trope in the genre to make me really worry about guys, sometimes.

Recommended. Ignore the unappealing covers, which appear to be doing their level best to conceal the fact that there is any humor at all in these volumes, but if you are long-time genre readers, you already know to do that.

More Chief Inspector Nightingale, please!

Ta, L.
Profile Image for Orient.
255 reviews206 followers
August 10, 2016

Beware this review is infected with spoilers!
I was eager to put my hands on this book to feel the magic of “Moon over Soho”. And it didn't disappoint. Though it had less jokes but had more feelings and passion. Peter Grant developed more as a wizard apprentice. It’s his time to shine more. With two new cases it’s a really ridiculous and fun mess. For example, why do we need simple vampires when there are ! It may sound absurd, but Mr. Aaronovitch makes it so awesome and witty. Oh and not forgetting to mention the so called . My friend asked me what was so funny in the book that I laugh so hard. I said and he asked me is this some kind of new feminism group? I said, yes definitely :D And he said that those Russian women invent various crazy names to manifest.

Ok, let’s get down to business now. Peter Grant has lots of fun in this book, as well as some sad stuff. But still he’s a fresh, likeable hero: like an average young man he takes his adventures not too seriously. Thanks god he’s smart enough to handle the tough situations and he gets some love and passion at last! I still like that Mr. Aaronovitch created Peter not perfect. Why the hell had nobody created some TV series about him!?

What is more, I found more history of London in “Moon Over Soho” and it was smoothly mixed in the plot as I found several interesting lines going from the first book. So the series is beginning to occupy a sweet place in my heart as it has detective, magic and history spices. Yay! As I traveled with Peter around the city, I met new interesting characters (more bad ones, with interesting creepy background and the bad evil master , YAY!) and the old ones, which I started to enjoy meeting with. Though I wanted more of Mr. Witcher aka T. Nightingale and Molly.

Sometimes Peter was a bit oblivious and I doubted was it just his personality or if Simone, the lovely , was somehow making his mind indifferent, that he didn't notice some deviations and coincidences. The episode when Grant gets Simone to realize what is going on, almost broke my heart and I felt really bad for both of them. But I know that it’s just the second book so I needn’t expect to appear so quickly. But still the world of Aaronovitch’s London left me really impatient what magic tricks has Mr. Aaronovitch got in his sleeve.

Time for phase three!
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,847 reviews16.3k followers
February 7, 2018
“Men have died for this music.
You can’t get more serious than that.”
- Dizzy Gillespie

Jazz monsters.

Ben Aaronovitch is laying down a cool, smooth GROOVE of an urban fantasy. The kind of prose, that if it were music, would sound smoky and stylish and would be jazz.

Body and Soul

Aaronovitch’s second Peter Grant mystery works because this is a police procedural that has urban fantasy elements and made better by the inclusion of modern day magic, but not because of it. I think where some practitioners of the UF art fall by the wayside and divulge into top 20 pop fizzle is that they never built their foundation of schizzle. Aaronovitch is too savvy a player to not know that the way to our hearts is a good story first and some shiny parts to go on top. Like the best pizza: toppings are great, but you’ve got to get the crust and the sauce right or the pie will only be OK.

The Spice of Life

This episode in the coolest new UF this side of Dresden and Iron Druid finds our apprentice hero straying downtown away from the river gods and goddesses and tracking down some seriously unique soul stealers. Who but the most nefarious would be killing jazz musicians?

A Long Drink of the Blues

Another reason why Aaronovitch’s template works so well is his magic building, and more than that, his introduction of the magic. Dresden and O’Sullivan are both first person narrators whose internal monologue clues in the unseen world for us readers. Grant is also a first-person perspective narrator, but he is a novice and we learn with him. This is similar to the winning formula Faith Hunter is using in her Soulwood series.

Autumn Leaves

As cool as the other side of the pillow and more fun than a barrel full of monkeys, Aaronovitch has another headliner and this book left me reaching for the next in the series.

Profile Image for William Gwynne.
325 reviews1,187 followers
March 16, 2021
Check out an expanded review on The Brothers Gwynne... Moon Over Soho booktube review

“For a terrifying moment I thought he was going to hug me, but fortunately we both remembered we were English just in time. Still, it was a close call.”

Moon Over Soho is a great sequel to Rivers of London, continuing the same humorous yet serious tone in the detective escapades of police constable Peter Grant.

Moon over Soho is the second instalment in the Rivers of London series. It continues to develop the already great characters of its predecessor, whilst introducing a whole new range of mysteries, with new monsters and fantastical creatures. Peter Grant is a fantastic central figure who continues his journey as an apprentice magician, who is still struggling through everything that he does not quite know yet.

I listened to this on Audible, on which Kobna Holdbrook-Smith again executed a fantastic performance. Whoever chose the narrator for this series had a moment of genius, because his voice and tone of his vocality just works so well with the tone of the story and gels with the one and only perspective we see the story from.

“If you just warn people, they often simply ignore you. But if you ask them a question, then they have to think about it. And once they start to think about the consequences, they almost always calm down.
Unless they're drunk, of course.
Or stoned.
Or aged between fourteen and twenty-one.
Or Glaswegian.”

Ben Aaronovitch continued to make me laugh out loud with this story, with his fantastic dry humour and pop references. Moon Over Soho revolves around the music circle a lot, especially the genre of jazz, and as such has many references to classic jazz songs that any fan of the music will be thrilled by. They subtly fit into the story to act as Easter eggs without being jarring to those who do not understand the reference. The humour is very well-balanced with the serious undertones of the story, and Aaronovitch really successfully flickers between the two, just as we all do in life.

Moon Over Soho introduces us to more of the history of the magical underbelly to London and the world that we discover in the first of this series. In particular, the reader is told a lot about the role magic played in World War Two. I really enjoyed this additional layer to Moon Over Soho that I yearned for in its predecessor, and look forward to this continuing in the proceeding instalments.

One of my criticisms of Rivers of London was that Nightingale served purely as a source for exposition, and a good chunk of the book was taken up by an info influx. Moon Over Soho rectifies this falling of the prior book. With the groundwork already laid down, Aaronovitch efficiently summarises the events of book 1 in a natural manner, and then gets into this interesting and engaging story.

Although this is comedic, there are very serious undertones. Alongside meeting vampires, magicians and very, very old spirits and souls of London, Peter Grant in his work comes across human experimentation, murder, betrayal and much more of a dire disposition.

“It's a sad fact of modern life that if you drive long enough, sooner or later you must leave London behind.”

Moon Over Soho was a great sequel to Rivers of London, and has as such hooked me into this series even further. It wraps up a self-contained story nicely, but has a few aspects to be continued, and leaves much more that I want to discover. So, for those who do not like a cliffhanger, you will be happy with this ending.

4.25/5 STARS
Profile Image for Will M..
304 reviews609 followers
January 2, 2015
Jazz music and vampires combined results into a new problem for constable Peter Grant.

I liked this way better than the first novel in the series. The characters were more developed here and it didn't tackle on introducing them anymore. I liked how the author gave us a deeper story about Peter's life and family. The plot as a whole was a bit okay. It wasn't phenomenal but I was entertained throughout the novel. The major plot twist in the end was shocking for me, because I was reading it at 6 am. Don't ask why I was reading at 6 am, but I finished it then and I immediately decided to rate this 4 stars after I sleep. I was determined on rating this a 3.5 rounded down, but the ending was redeeming.

Simone and Nightingale improved a lot in this novel. I didn't care about Simone in the first novel, but I was interested on what was going to happen to her here. Nightingale continues to be the tough-master he was in the first novel. The characters continued to develop, but I will say that for me, they haven't fully developed just yet. A great improvement though.

What I didn't like about this novel would be the scarce amount of magic involved. I haven't read much Urban-Fantasy to be used to the genre's style, but I'm still hoping that the next book would contain more magic. Grant is an apprentice, and having scarce amount of magic seems rather ironic.

3.5/5 stars. I'm still interested to continue on with the series, but not right away. While this one was not as amazing as I wanted it to be, it was still a great improvement compared to the first one.

Profile Image for James.
140 reviews60 followers
December 29, 2016
Almost literally, unless it grew legs and bolted when I wasn’t looking, Moon Over Soho hit the ground running from where Rivers of London left us. Not only does Ben Aaronovitch make it as smoothly readable as its predecessor (to the point where I was often having to cover up the next page with hands and/or arms), but this one truly feels like part of a larger story, doubtless to continue on and reward our patience handsomely in the following books, as opposed to a smaller, self-contained one that doesn’t really resolve the loose ends at the end of the last one. Characters and consequences from there aren’t glossed over here, but loom large, whether in the background or fore-. Still cracking Harry Potter jokes, to Nightingale’s resignation, Peter Grant remains a fun character, who guides us helpfully in the ways of police-constabling and through the streets of London, but Aaronovitch also remembers to steer him towards serious character development. More magical shenanigans ensue and ultimately converge in ways mostly unexpected, especially with where Aaronovitch again leaves us: hankering big-time for the sequel, though mainly for Guleed the Somali Ninja Girl, only his best character so far. One of my crazier New Year’s resolutions was going to be to stop buying books and start reading the many ones I already have long had, but so much for that.
Profile Image for Megan Baxter.
985 reviews656 followers
May 19, 2014
I got pushed into reading this slightly earlier than I had intended - but my mother is here for a visit, and she started to read the first book, and as she neared the end, there started to be threats about what might happen if I didn't hurry up and finish this one. (Threats of booknapping!)

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Profile Image for Philip.
497 reviews661 followers
April 27, 2017
4ish stars.

I'm so pleased I continued with the series. Usually unless the first in a series is at least a 4-star book, I don't bother. Midnight Riot (Rivers of London) was a not-quite-4-star-read for me, although I could recognize its potential.

The audiobook narrator, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith was one of the biggest factors in my decision to continue. I honestly just love listening to him read. If I could choose anyone to read bedtime stories to me each night, he'd be top five, easy.

The plotting, which was my biggest issue with MR, is much improved in this book, although still not airtight. If nothing else, it's much easier to follow. Peter Grant continues to be a fantastic character surrounded by a fantastic supporting cast. The book is written with wit and intelligence without any unnecessary fluff. Aaronovitch treats London like a character who is as important as any of the others. Except maybe Beverley Brook. She's absolutely essential and I need more of her.

“There's more to life than just London," said Nightingale.
"People keep saying that," I said. "But I've never actually seen any proof.”

I'm also glad about the introduction of a potential continuing plotline to weave throughout the series. Looking forward to seeing where it leads. I guess this means there's no going back... Keep calm and carry on to #3.
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,116 reviews1,978 followers
August 22, 2015
So I remember I was not totally convinced by the first book in this series and thought I would probably not move on to the sequel. Well I did move on and I find these books are growing on me. I am starting to find Peter and Nightingale interesting and this book, after it got over imparting huge amounts of jazz knowledge that I really did not need, became very interesting indeed. Peter is developing some quite effective magical skills and by the end of the book seems to have gained another possible wizard to keep him company. I will certainly be moving on to the next book this time!
Profile Image for Wanda Pedersen.
1,811 reviews348 followers
June 20, 2021
2021 Re-Read

***2021 Dog Days of Summer***

It's time for my summer theme and this year I have chosen to read books that include canine companions. It was a marvelous excuse to revisit the Rivers of London series complete with Toby the terrible terrier. Toby continues his influence on the Folly, being a smelly companion on car trips and a weary walking responsibility after a long day of work.

Peter develops a magic measuring system based on Toby: And what did Nightingale and I have to measure vestigia with? Sod all, and it's not even as if we know what we're trying to measure in the first place. I had jokingly developed my own scale for vestigia based on the amount of noise Toby made when he interacted with any residual magic. I called it a yap, one yap being enough vestigia to be apparent even when I wasn't looking for it. The yap would be an SI unit, of course, and thus the standard background ambiance of a Central London pub was 0.2 of a yap or 200 milliyaps.

We get to know Peter's father, the jazz musician, much better in this novel. It's easy to divine where Peter gets his interest in music and architecture from. Aaronovitch has an eclectic assortment of interests which make for an interesting main character. But I have a hunch his magic comes from his mum's side of the family. She certainly has firm views on witches!

I'd forgotten that this was the book where Guleed was introduced, during the raid on the Strip Club of Dr Moreau. What story can't use a Somali ninja? Stephanopoulis continues to both intimidate and provide a prime example of how to get things done in police work. Peter is entertaining, but the supporting characters make these books special, as does Aaronovitch’s obvious love of the great city of London.

Original Review

I do like Peter Grant! I find him a charming narrator, as he attempts to balance being a copper and being an apprentice wizard. Both roles are complex and the combination can be overwhelming at times.

I do love his insistence on quantifying and measuring his abilities, his attempts to understand magic using the scientific method, and his various ways of trying to protect his mobile phone from being fried by magic. I was also amused by his use of online translation tools to try to deal with Latin texts, because I do the same thing as a library cataloguer—typing titles, tables of contents, and occasionally whole paragraphs into Google translate, trying to determine which call number and subject headings to assign to a book that I can’t really read. You do get the kind of scrambled translation that Grant has to deal with! (Because those translation tools are largely based on United Nations documents, published in multiple languages and used as a basis for the translation, they are not always useful for personal and emotional subject matter).

I also love the setting—London itself is very much a character in these novels and it is clear that the author loves the city a great deal.

I will definitely continue to follow the adventures of Peter Grant.
Profile Image for Eilonwy.
814 reviews202 followers
October 21, 2015

4-1/2 stars, rounded down because I'm not sure all the mysteries in this one quite got cleared up satisfactorily. But it was still a great read.

Another amazing whirlwind with Peter Grant. The mysteries were gripping, Peter's further discoveries about the magical world were fascinating, and I just love spending time in his head and in the atmosphere of these books.

Definitely recommended, and I can hardly wait to get on to Book Three.
Profile Image for Andrea.
Author 25 books781 followers
January 23, 2012
I very much enjoy the world of this series - the story is leading us through the trials of a police force in an increasingly magical London very well. However, I spent much of this volume frustrated and annoyed with the main character.

Peter is an amusing fellow with a scientific turn of mind, always trying to unpick and understand how magic works. But he spends much of this book completely failing to _think_.

Even more problematic is Peter's friend Lesley, a previously very perky and competent policewoman. In the previous novel Lesley's face "fell off" thanks to a magical possession. At the beginning of this story, Lesley asks Peter if there's anything magic can do.

He says, "No."

That's it. Not "I haven't found anything yet, but I'll keep looking. I won't pretend there's any guarantee, but I'll do everything I can." Not "My teacher tells me that any kind of magical healing would cost you your soul and your sanity." Just "No."

Lesley accepts this, without any sign of resentment toward Peter, and Peter later notes that he doesn't feel guilty about what happened to Lesley. How nice.

Problem is, this is a magic system which . There's no justification or reasoning behind why Lesley can't be helped at least in a minor way with magic - if only to relieve some of the considerable pain she's in. No explanation of why it's not possible. Just "No.".

And in another sign of Peter not thinking things through, he
Profile Image for HBalikov.
1,695 reviews629 followers
January 16, 2019
“I’m sorry for your loss,” I said. “I’d like to ask you a few questions if I can.” “Is that entirely necessary, Constable?” she asked. “We often investigate cases where the circumstances surrounding the death are unclear,” I said. Actually we, that is the police, don’t investigate unless foul play is bleeding obvious or if the Home Office has recently issued a directive insisting that we prioritize whatever the crime du jour was for the duration of the current news cycle."

Peter Grant is no longer a probationary London police officer. He is a constable with London’s Metropolitan Police Services and he is assigned to C.I. Thomas Nightingale of “Economic and Specialist Crime.” Nightingale and this “group” investigate crimes involving magic. Peter has some aptitude. He is bright, droll, easily distracted, enthusiastic, intuitive and earnest. This leads to some problems:

"And learning magic, of course—which is what makes the whole thing worthwhile. This is a spell: Lux iactus scindere—say it quietly, say it loudly, say it with conviction in the middle of a thunderstorm while striking a dramatic pose—nothing will happen. That’s because the words are just labels for the forma that you make in your mind; lux to make the light and scindere to fix it in place. If you do this particular spell right it creates a light source in a fixed position. If you do it wrong it can burn a hole through a lab table. “You know,” said Nightingale, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen that happen before.” I gave the bench a last squirt with the CO2 extinguisher and bent down to see whether the floor under the table was still intact. There was a burn mark but luckily no crater."
"Tomorrow we’re going to start to relearn that forma and then once I’m certain of your mastery we’ll return to this spell.” “Oh joy,” I said. “This isn’t unusual.” Nightingale’s voice was low and reassuring. “You have to get the foundations of the art right or everything you build on top will be crooked, not to mention unstable."

The plot is as complex as Peter Grant #1 but I was captured by the jazz theme that weaves Grant and his jazz musician father into the London jazz scene of the past 100 years and includes references to many of the classic performances that jazz fans hold dear. The threats this time include weird witches and powerful mages and we learn a lot more about both Grant’s and Nightingale’s background. Oh, and there’s more sex (but nothing verging on the pornographic).

Grant is a pretty good investigator (when he isn’t distracted) and his “extra powers” are something that I found enhanced the read. As usual, there are plenty of caustic observations and cynical takes on the job of policing and London life in general.

My rating is generous but I like being entertained and Aaronovitch's style and plot really do that for me.

Great descriptions including: "The police can live with looking corrupt, bullying, or tyrannical, but looking stupid is intolerable. It has a tendency to undermine public faith in the forces of Law and is deleterious to public order."

"The house had been built for the aspirational lower middle class so the hallway was narrow but well proportioned. It still had its original black-and-white tiles, though, and a scruffy but antique oak hall cupboard. Simone led me into the living room. I noticed that she had sturdy but well-shaped legs under the black leggings she wore. The house had undergone the standard gentrification package, front room knocked through into the dining room, original oak floorboards sanded down, varnished, and covered in rugs. The furniture looked John Lewis, expensive, comfortable, and unimaginative. The plasma TV was conventionally large and hooked up to Sky and a Blu-ray player; the nearest shelves held DVDs, not books. A reproduction Monet hung over where the fireplace would have been if it hadn’t been ripped out sometime in the last hundred years…I could read the family history in that house. Father and Mother had immigrated in the late 1960s, found jobs that they were wildly overqualified for, bought a run-down property in a relatively unfashionable area, and were now living off the fat of the property boom. Father would wear bespoke suits and be the man of the house; Mother would have a bedroom full of shoes and three mobile phones. The kids would be expected to become doctors, lawyers, or engineers in descending order of preference."

"Dad grunted and dipped into a cardboard box full of 78s to pull out a plain brown cardboard sleeve repaired at three edges with masking tape, containing the Benny Goodman Trio on shellac, with a Victor black-and-gold label. He has a Garrard turntable that has a 78 setting but you have to swap out the cartridge first—I laboriously removed the Ortofon and went looking for the Stanton."

"There’s no such thing as a full-service forensics team. It’s very expensive, so you order bits of it up from the Home Office like a Chinese takeout. Judging by the number of noddy suits filing past us Stephanopoulis had gone for the super-deluxe meal for six with extra egg fried rice. I was, I guessed, the fortune cookie."

"I asked what kind of records and Simone said that it was nearly always jazz, Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, and of course Billie Holiday. Miss Patternost told the girls that jazz was the Negro’s great contribution to world culture and that as far as she was concerned they could eat as many missionaries as they wanted, as long as they continued to produce such beautiful music. After all, said Miss Patternost, the various societies were churning out hundreds of missionaries every week but there was only one Louis Armstrong."

"She lived in the kind of 1930s brick-built detached house with bay windows that you can find in the suburbs all over Britain, but in this case it was located in Wimbledon. It contained a lot of good solid oak furniture overlaid with a layer of doilies, flowery chair covers, and Dresden porcelain. It was chintz but not the cat-lady chintz I was used to. Perhaps it was Mrs. Bellrush’s manner or steely blue eyes but I got the distinct impression that this was aggressive chintz, warrior chintz, the kind of chintz that had gone out to conquer an Empire and still had the good taste to dress for dinner. Any IKEA flat-pack that showed its face around here was going to be kindling."

"The idea was to promote in his head that he was just a small fry caught in a great big impersonal grinding machine. We were aiming for a cross between Kafka and Orwell, which just goes to show how dangerous it can be when your police officers are better read than you are."

"The pianist, Daniel Hossack, was a classically trained music teacher at Westminster School for the terminally privileged. He had receding blond hair, round Trotsky glasses, and the sort of sensible kindness that probably led to him being savagely lampooned by the spotty wits of the lower sixth—that’s year 12 in the new money."

"These days, my dad assured me, you almost never found dead dogs floating in the canal."
Profile Image for Steven.
1,048 reviews386 followers
September 28, 2018
Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch
Published 2011, Del Ray (US version)
Stars: (not yet rated)
Review also posted at: Slapdash & Sundry

This one was a little slower paced than book one -- if you don't count the character/world introductions from the first one -- at least at the beginning.

Honestly, I didn't think that this one, with all the focus on jazz music, would appeal to me very much. I was wrong. By the end of it, I loved it. The book, not jazz. Still not a jazz person. I don't dislike it. I just don't go out of my way to listen to it.

The world is growing in this book. More characters, more good guys, more villains, more creatures, more kinds of magic. I like that. Growth is good. And some events at the end, while sad (and almost a little trope-ish in the male UF world), didn't feel unnecessary to me. In fact, I felt like what happened HAD to happen. It's going to make Peter Grant a different, more rounded character, who has a deeper respect for what he is dealing with, the consequences, and the lives involved. It's going to make him better.

If I didn't have, oh, a bajillion ARCs and library books and challenge books to read, I'd be picking up book three immediately. Instead, I'll have to wait a few weeks -- but it will be in the queue as soon as possible, especially considering that little twist of the last few pages.
Profile Image for Rob.
839 reviews534 followers
May 3, 2015
Executive Summary: Another enjoyable entry in this series. Good but not great. Short and fun. 3.5 Stars.

Audio book: Kobna Holdbrook-Smith is once again a perfect fit for this book. Not only does his normal voice seem to spot on for Peter Grant, but he does a great job with the other characters as well. He totally makes audio the only way to go for this series IMHO.

Full Review
The biggest praise I can offer this book, is the fact that I plan to continue on with the series. Pretty much every other Urban Fantasy series I've tried since discovering Dresden Files has been a disappointment.

Strangely since this is another sort of detective/magician cross over, I'm pretty surprised I do enjoy it. I don't think it's as good, but it's different enough to make for a good light read from time to time.

I know very little about London. But then I know very little about Chicago, so I don't think that matters too much. I like that this series has an English feel to it. And instead of a lot of the standard werewolves, vampires and ghosts, etc Mr. Aaronvitch puts his own spin on things.

You still have ghosts and vampires, but they feel unique and not carbon copies of the ones from the stories that have come before it.

The best parts of this book were how he further developed his protagonist by introducing us to his family as well as the ground work he seems to be laying for if not the series big baddie, a large challenge Peter will have to tackle in the near future.

I'm looking forward to continuing on and finding out what happens next. I don't think this is a series I'll marathon until I've caught up, but will definitely be coming back to at some point in the not too distant future.
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
1,989 reviews2,584 followers
April 25, 2015
I don't know what it is about the Peter Grant series, but this is only the second installment and already I am completed addicted. I've not been a fan of urban fantasy for very long, but over the years I have come to appreciate the particular brand of "fun and fluffiness" that's so characteristic of books like this. They're reliable entertainment -- I know even before I crack the cover that I'll have a good time, and I'm hardly ever disappointed.

As it happens, Moon Over Soho was even better than I expected, because I found I could hardly put it down once I started. The story begins just several months after the events of the first book Rivers of London/Midnight Riot, but police constable and apprentice magician Peter Grant is already called upon to investigate a series of curious deaths around the Soho area in the West End of London. It appears a troubling number of jazz musicians have been keeling over dead after their gigs, apparently from "natural" causes such as aneurysms or heart failure, but the discovery of thaumaturgical residue on the bodies makes Peter suspect magical foul play.

I was also surprised to see that a seemingly minor event from the last book, one I'd thought was originally thrown in at the end for some perverse comic relief, actually turned out to be the basis for another major plot thread in this novel. The details are a little disturbing and really much too outrageous to try to explain, so let's just leave it at that. I'd rather not spoil it, anyhow.

That said, while the adventures of Peter and his dry sardonic British wit (especially in his zinging of everything from the bureaucracy of the London Metropolitan Police to post-modern architecture) continue to delight and make me laugh out loud, there is definitely a darker, more sinister tone to this book. Not only are a few of the crime scene scenarios somewhat disturbing, there were also a few parts where I actually found myself downright creeped out -- but in the good, spine-tingling-edge-of-your-seat kind of way.

There are also a couple of traditions I'm glad to see this book continuing. The first is the ever phenomenal characterization of London as a charming, vibrant and multicultural city. The author likes to inject random and interesting facts about London's description, history, and people in the course of his storytelling, and all that attention to detail truly brings this magnificent city to life in these books.

The second is the "science" behind the magic. The magical systems and how they work in this series are still not very clear, and here the reader is almost as lost as Peter when it comes to trying to figure it out. Peter, however, persists in experimenting with his powers using logic and scientific theory, and even though some of his results and "explanations" make things even more confusing and harder to understand, I do like his unique approach and am interested to see how the series' concept of magic will continue to develop in future books.

Speaking of which, contrary to the first book which in my opinion wrapped up quite nicely, Moon Over Soho has the distinct feel of a "Part I". This series is definitely building into something bigger, and I can't wait to get my hands on the third book so I can find out what happens.

See review at The BiblioSanctum
Profile Image for Trish.
1,851 reviews3,363 followers
August 28, 2021
Soho. The artistic part of London known for theatres and music of any kind. London - any corner of the city - has a lot of history and Soho is definitely no different.
As it happens, musicians are being murdered under very "suspect" circumstances there. Peter is asked to investigate but the murders keep happening and he always seems to be one step behind. Maybe because he's distracted by the beautiful Simone? Or by Lesley's horriffic disfigurement? Or Nightingale still needing to recover having been shot in the chest in the previous book?

Whatever it is, we follow him around the city, meeting his parents, a host of musicians, out-of-their-depth-coppers and magical creatures - some already known, some new. Though not too much new is introduced here, sadly. Still, the bodies found, their distinct wounds, were quite something. *evil cackle* And then there is the afore-mentioned history (it pays off to really know the city if you want to get ahead of the murderer). Not to mention that I like the realism of crimes not being solved willy-nilly just because the copper on the job happens to be a wizard.

Once again, we get sucked into this weird version of London where lights can be conjured and vampires are real ().
Sadly, magic supposedly can't do everything (poor Lesley) but maybe Peter will prove that particular piece of "fact" wrong.
It was nice learning about this part of London as I'm not too much of a music person. And then there were some more details about Nightingale's experiences during WW2 and how / maybe even why he looks much younger than he is.

I honestly want Peter to get on with his studies so we get a more detailed look at this magic system and I certainly want him and Thomas to USE their magic a bit more. But that is just me.

The characters are already familiar, which is pleasant and surprising considering that this is only volume 2 of the series. And because we're already familiar with their individual quirks, hilarity often spices up the various encounters (I particularly enjoyed Molly trying to expand her culinary abilities *lol*). But it also means that the author manages to frequently tuck on one's heartstrings (again: poor Lesley, although ).

Like I said before: this series is addicting (though this was still not as good as the first*) so I can't wait to follow the wizards into a time when magic is definitely making a come-back ... maybe even to the point where "Hogwarts" re-opens. Bwahahahahahahahaha!

*So now I'm in a bit of a pickle: this series is already much better than most UF books I've read so far but the rating system is limiting my expressing the nuances between the volumes. As I mentioned above, this wasn't as impactful as the first book, but it was still brilliant so ... 4 or 5 stars? *sighs*
Profile Image for Michael.
1,094 reviews1,477 followers
December 4, 2013
In this second in the series, young London constable Peter Grant is slowly advancing in his apprenticeship to the aging wizard Nightingale, who consults on all the cases crimes that may involve magic. He is called in when a murder of a jazzman in Soho is too bizarre to be committed by a normal criminal:. . Further investigation reveals that more jazzman have died mysteriously over the years. Is this some form of spiritual vampirism?

The detective in charge hates to admit that she needs Peter on the case, but she lets him poke around in the music scene. This task gives the readers a nice slice of London at night and the world of jazz. We get to know more about Peter’s family, as he taps his father’s knowledge from his time as the legendary brass sideman Lord Grant. Clues suggest someone trained at the wizard school long ago may be involved. Peter’s growing skills in detecting the use of magic by lingering sensations of smell, sound, and images called vestigia serves his work well. But when he gets into danger, his ability to apply defensive spells are extremely limited. Most of the time he uses traditional gumshoe methods, and in dangerous conflicts he has to be creative with blunt instruments at hand. Ultimately, his soft heart and passion for the ladies gets him in trouble.

This was a pleasant enough excursion, but not outstanding for me. The contrast between this sweet boy with the heart of an Eagle Scout and the forces of evil has its charm. The humor raises smiles instead of outright laughs. For example, Peter kids Nightingale about the old days when there was a special school for training: “Hogwarts?”, which garners the response “I really wish you wouldn’t call it that..” As another example, Peter struggles to figure out where the energy comes from to pull off levitation and notes that “I don’t believe in breaking the second law of thermodynamics.” Compared to the first in the series, I was glad to see the focus on River Gods minimized and was pleased with a few more action and chase scenes to break up the parade of colorful characters and sardonic mental musings. I will definitely keep an eye on the progression in the series, but, as was the case with Harry Potter, it will be a challenge to deal with the fading of Peter’s innocence and youth.
Profile Image for Jennifer Gaarder.
109 reviews14 followers
December 3, 2018
Read my reviews and blog at www.jenchaosreviews.com

Moon Over Soho (Rivers of London #2) US Edition
Random House Ballantine, March 11, 2011

288 Pages Paperback Edition (US)

From Goodreads:

"The song. That’s what London constable and sorcerer’s apprentice Peter Grant first notices when he examines the corpse of Cyrus Wilkins, part-time jazz drummer and full-time accountant, who dropped dead of a heart attack while playing a gig at Soho’s 606 Club. The notes of the old jazz standard are rising from the body—a sure sign that something about the man’s death was not at all natural but instead supernatural.

Body and soul. They’re also what Peter will risk as he investigates a pattern of similar deaths in and around Soho. With the help of his superior officer, Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, the last registered wizard in England, and the assistance of beautiful jazz aficionado Simone Fitzwilliam, Peter will uncover a deadly magical menace—one that leads right to his own doorstep and to the squandered promise of a young jazz musician: a talented trumpet player named Richard “Lord” Grant—otherwise known as Peter’s dear old dad."

Goodreads Rating: 4.10/ My Rating: 5.00

This is the second book in the Peter Grant/ Rivers of London Series and I have to say it is so entertaining that I may have to re-read it when I am finished with it. The first book, Midnight Riot (US) Rivers of London (UK) was read and reviewed Here.

This book follows an investigation into the mysterious death of a jazz musician in London and preceding deaths of jazz musicians as investigations had uncovered. Nightingale and Peter Grant are convinced that magic is somehow to blame for this.

In the meantime, there is another mystery at play. There is a monstrous woman running the streets and clubs of London, preying on young men and doing awful things to them. What is she and where did she come from?

The monstrous woman is something that was created, so they discover. However, they have a very difficult time catching her.

In yet another line of mystery that is somehow involved with the two other mysteries is the discovery of black magic being practiced in London by a very evil magician. This one they have to find immediately before more people get hurt.

They investigate different places this individual could be and what he or she could have been doing. They cannot help but feel that they are being lured into a trap. They discover this magician has been trained by a master and is one of the most dangerous magicians in England.

Scouring the city they uncover many different things as most police officers slash magicians will but are surprised at the result of what their discoveries have to lead them to.

The origin of what and who is killing the jazz musicians is something that hits Peter at home because of his legendary father who is none other than Lord Grant. Fearful for the life of his father he delved deeper in the mystery and finds himself in bed with what could be the enemy. This is not something I usually do. However, I want to leave a teaser here for you.

Simone Fitzwilliam is a new character and a bit of a mystery. Peter is totally over the moon for her and feels no danger, but is she not telling him something? The reader finds out more about her at about 95% of the book. I was personally shocked!

The non-stop action, the vivid picture of London and its surrounding areas give way to a picture-perfect story. The characters are well developed and have personalities that are unique and of their own. The dialogue is well balanced and each character is given their own voice, which is something that is especially difficult to do.

The wry humor and sense of urgency during the action made this a most entertaining read and something I enjoyed thoroughly.

There was no time in this book that I felt the writing was wrong or incomplete. It was a well-balanced story with wonderful modern sounding prose. I was not bored and I felt like I was part of the story. I felt urgency when the action was happening or the characters were giving chase. This was written with tremendous skill.

It would seem that there were many plots, however, there really was only one with many subplots. I was a little lost as I would be in something this involved, so I had to slow down and digest the information as it came to me. The ending was not disappointing and there really was no cliffhanger; however, the storyline ended giving way to more novels in the series (which there are many more). The plots tied in nicely and I was introduced to a new villain that would probably be seen in the next book.

What I Liked:
The development of characters is something that I like the most. I liked the development of Peter and Leslie the most because they were very rookie in the first book and showed more grace in this book. However, because Leslie was not in this book very often, I didn't get to see her grow as much as I would like. However, the end told me she had something that shocked even me!

What I Didn't Like:
The villain didn't show up until the last portion of the story. I would have liked to see him a little more, maybe sooner and he will possibly show up more frequently in the next book Whispers underground.  Also, Leslie took a back burner in this story almost as if she was a little of a shameful character. She showed up in the last part with considerable growth and no backstory to reflect on how it happened.

Overall Impression:
A fast-paced, high action mystery and magical thriller, this book is something to be had and enjoyed. I definitely recommend this to those who like Urban Fantasy particularly those who like Urban Fantasy based in London (which I do!). I Rated this a 5.00

Profile Image for Sara.
1,039 reviews348 followers
July 30, 2022
It's been so long since I last read Moon Over Soho that I'd forgotten a lot of the side plots - however the main story still held up in my mind, especially that scene at the club with Larry the Lark.

The second Rivers of London book does a great job of setting up an overarching villain in the mysterious Faceless Man. In many ways he's the antithesis of Peter. Privileged, taking every advantage handed to him in life and using anyone who gets in his way to get what he wants. Peter demonstrates here that at his core he's still a man of the people, looking out for the underdogs. That doesn't mean he's not flawed still, Peter has a lot of growing to do in order to beat out that superficial streak he has regarding women, but the potential is there.

I didn't like the plot of this as much as the first one, if only because it takes a long time building up the story and weaving bits together, however the payoff is worth it just due the wonderful mysterious nature of the Faceless man. A worthy adversary to any trainee wizard. As is Lady Tyburn. Knowing where her story leads, it was fun to revisit her machinations from early on.
Profile Image for Mimi.
691 reviews187 followers
January 5, 2021
With “moon” in the title and a setting like London, I was expecting there to be a werewolf tale or at the very least a shapeshifter subplot, but this a story about Soho and jazz… and murder and magic and supernatural forces and things beyond our existential control, but mostly Soho and jazz. So of course, my favorite kind of urban fantasy. You won’t even miss the lack of werewolves at all.

Once in a very rare while, an author’s writing style syncs up with all the qualities which I look for in a genre. When these things overlap, reading becomes less of a task and more of an experience. Ben Aaronovitch’s writing is everything I look for in urban fantasy. I had an inkling shortly after finish Rivers of London that that was the case, but I wasn’t certain until this book.

When a good book takes you a step further into the realm of experience, the feeling I associate with reading is similar to returning home after a long trip away. And that was what it was like for me all through this book. After finish Rivers of London, I took a break to explore other genres and fictions and they were interesting in their own ways, but the moment I picked up Moon Over Soho, it was like I was home again. Even though I’ve never been to London and only know of it through media representations, Aaronovitch’s London feels like a familiar place.


There are a lot of things I like about this book and a handful of things I have issues with, which are somewhat “resolved” in the end. I won’t get to them though because they are huge spoilers.

Peter Grant is still a fun protagonist to follow around. You get to follow him around all corners–and through alley ways and rivers and creaks and abandoned buildings–of London during the investigation. He has a peculiar, yet entertaining, way of describing present-day London while dropping chunks of past-London into the narration. I enjoyed these moments the most because my interest is often piqued and I end up looking all of these references up as I’m reading. They add more depth to the story and investigation and an different perspective that I’d not otherwise consider, and ultimately following Peter around London feels like getting an underbelly tour of Soho.

Peter’s magic takes on a more prevalent role in this book as he grows as an apprentice, an absurdly easily distracted apprentice, but still. Aside from beginner’s magic and Latin practices, Peter is also introduced to a new type of sinister magic and the possibility more like it exists. This is more sinister than what we’ve seen in Rivers of London. It’s interesting to note that, while Nightingale is the Master Wizard, he often takes a supporting role in Peter’s investigations due to his recent injuries and Peter ends up doing most of the legwork, which is why he’s often sidetracked (and distracted by shiny things). But he gets well on his own.

Peter’s family and his interactions with his mom and dad are sweet while being realistic. Although his parents have limited screen-time, every scene they appear in show a glimpse of the family’s true dynamic and Peter’s biracial background. It’s a testament to Aaronovitch that he can write this family with an honesty and sense of care that I rarely see in genre fiction and almost never in urban fantasy. Even when Peter is taking the reader around London tracking down a lead, in between snark and satire, he would often mention the influences his parents had and still have on him, which shows in both his personality and behavior. When the family is together, you can see that Peter takes after both of his parents. I find this endearing.

Wow. This is turning out to be a very Peter-centric post. That’s because I can’t really talk about anything else without going further into the investigation. I can’t even mention Simone, even though every book blurb already has. I can’t even talk about the specific type of sinister magic that Peter encounters without revealing the ending. I certainly can’t bring up Molly due to the nature–or mystery?–of her being. But I can say that this story takes the reader back to a prolific time in London’s past that still has an effect on the London of today. That’s not too vague, now is it…

Like in Rivers of London, the narration and dialogue are great fun and quick-witted. Peter’s funny when he’s narrating or on his own talking to himself, and he’s hilarious when Nightingale is around. The two of them have that old-world meets new-world dynamic that’s perfect for Peter’s comedic timing.

Life outside of London:
“There’s more to life than just London,” said Nightingale.
“People keep saying that,” I said. “But I’ve never actually seen any proof.”
“We can take the dog,” he said. “He’ll enjoy the fresh air.”
“We won’t,” I said. “Not if we take the dog.”

Peter and Nightingale discussing a victim’s “hobby”:
“Assuming he was a practitioner,” I said.
Nightingale tapped his better knife on the plastic-wrapped copy of the Principia Artes Magicis. “Nobody carries this book by accident,” he said. “Besides, I recognize the other library mark. It’s from my old school.”
“Hogwarts?” I asked.
“I really wish you wouldn’t call it that,” he said.

Peter and Nightingale discussing connotations:
“You can’t call them black magicians,” I said.
“You realize that we’re using black in its metaphorical sense here,” said Nightingale.
“It doesn’t matter,” I said. “Words change what they mean, don’t they? Some people would call me a black magician.”
“You’re not a magician,” he said. “You’re barely even an apprentice.”

Peter meeting Postmartin for the first time:
I could see him trying to parse the phrase but he’s colored in a way that wouldn’t cause offense and failing. I put him out of his misery by shaking his hand; my rule of thumb is if they don’t physically flinch from touching you, then eventually they’ll make the adjustment.

All jokes aside, there is something that still bothers me and that’s the casual use of the word “Jap” to refer to anything Japanese. In this case, a sushi restaurant. Here in the US, it’s a racial slur that dates back to WWII and the Japanese concentration camps. In the UK though, I don’t know how this word is used or whether or not there is tension behind it. Aaronovitch has been respectful of diversity and racial discourse so far whenever he brings up Peter’s biracial identity and Peter’s mother’s Sierra Leonean background, so perhaps the word “Jap” doesn’t carry the same racial connotation in the UK as it does in the US…?

And another thing, I find it hard to believe that Peter, whose mom is Sierra Leonean, would refer to Africa and also the Middle East as “countries” when grouping both with other actual countries like China, Russia, and India. I will excuse this as an editing slight, but if something like it happens again, it will be very disappointing.

* * * * *

Update: March 2020

Quickly reread all the highlights last night, and yeah, this is still one of my favorite installments of the series.

There were many similarities between this book and the latest one, False Value, and all the things I liked about this one are things that show up in the other one too.

* * * * *

Cross-posted at https://covers2covers.wordpress.com/2...
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