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London Falling

(Shadow Police #1)

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  7,326 ratings  ·  906 reviews
The dark is rising ...Detective Inspector James Quill is about to complete the drugs bust of his career. Then his prize suspect Rob Toshack is murdered in custody. Furious, Quill pursues the investigation, co-opting intelligence analyst Lisa Ross and undercover cops Costain and Sefton. But nothing about Toshack's murder is normal. Toshack had struck a bargain with a vindic ...more
Hardcover, 402 pages
Published April 16th 2013 by Tor (first published December 6th 2012)
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D No - other than showing London as a grim place. You might enjoy Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman though if you liked the browser game.

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Average rating 3.76  · 
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Maggie Stiefvater
Jan 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recommended, adult

What a splendid and fun supernatural procedural. I read it in its entirety on a cross-country flight, while a weary mother's dictatorial three-year-old loudly terrorized my entire seating section from the seat beside mine. Even with a strange child's feet flailing in my lap and a strange child's popcorn arcing over my field of vision and a strange child's crappy diaper removed and instantly refueled inches away from me, this novel held me. So, without further ado,
Apr 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
so here is where i have to do that thing that i hate to do which is "admit when i am wrong."

i rather boldly declared, after reading Carniepunk, that it made me discover that i was not a fan of the urban fantasy/paranormal romance genre.

so, oops.

because while this is assuredly not paranormal romance, it is definitely urban fantasy. and while i have only read one china mieville novel, perdido street station, i know enough about his particular themes and style to try that "bold declaration" thing
May 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of noir, police thrillers, soccer

From my blog at

I sought out London Falling as it was recommended by Ben Aaronovich, who writes my very favorite Peter Grant books.

But this didn't quite work.

The coming together of an investigative team? Police procedural? Thriller? Serial killers? All ingredients that sound appealing. I’m betting the juxtaposition here won’t work for most. Personally, I don’t lean too far into thriller territory, but there are some exceptions. This isn’t one.

Cornell has
K.J. Charles
Aug 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'm actively angry about the beginning of this book.

It's slow, hard going, too many characters insufficiently distinguished, unclear action. I've been churning through it for a month or more, put it down repeatedly. Got to 25% last week, still bored, clicked on it today on the train to decide whether to just bin it, and pretty much read the reast of the damn thing in a sitting. I mean, it takes off like a firework. Suddenly we have characters, we have coherent action, we have thrilling magic an
Jennifer Gaarder
Read my reviews at

By Paul Cornell

Tor, Tom Doherty Associates Book, April 16, 2013

417 Pages, Kindle Edition

 "Police officers Quill, Costain, Sefton, and Ross know the worst of London—or they think they do. While investigating a mobster's mysterious death, they come into contact with a strange artifact and accidentally develop the Sight. Suddenly they can see the true evil haunting London's streets.
Armed with police instincts and procedures, the four officers take on the
I chose this novel to read to fill the Fall into a Good Book square of my 2016 Halloween Book Bingo card. I’d been wanting to read it for a while, since it was recommended by none other than Ben Aaronovitch, author of the Peter Grant series which I really like.

And I can see some basic similarities. Both authors obviously know & love London city. They also both see the city’s potential for magical history. But I find Aaronovitch’s series to be more optimistic and more playful. Cornell shows us a
Well... this was a very promising series opener. I wasn't sure what to expect going in to this one, you know, because of that whole "not reading descriptions" thing I do. So the beginning threw me right off and I was confused as all hell for probably the first quarter of the book. But then things started to make more sense, and I found myself quite enjoying this.

I liked the characters - they were all pretty well drawn and realistic, and I felt that I was starting to get a feel of who each one o
Eoghann Irving
Apr 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: urban-fantasy
Urban Fantasy is one of those murky sub-genres that can mean different things to different people. If I was to tell you that this was a story set in London in which several police officers investigate a supernatural serial killer I would be describing the book, but I really wouldn't be telling you what you're going to get.

This is not _Harry Dresden_ or _Rivers of London._ What Paul Cornell gives us is something much, much darker. This is a serial killer who happens to be supernatural. And as suc
Review originally posted at Kirkus

“You hear stories like that all your life and think: cool, a ghost bus. But now we have to look at this stuff analytically... a ghost bus?! The “ghost” of a motor vehicle?”

In London, Detective Inspector Quill is about to bring down drug lord Rob Toshack, the culmination of four years of painstaking work. Toshack is arrested and taken into custody and when he is about to confess to all of his crimes, the unthinkable happens: He dies. It is a bloody, sudden death
Mar 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Pts first as always - 3.5pts rounded upto 4pts as its a debut & well... the pluses outweigh the one or two niggles id say.

If you dont want to read any further & get wind of any plots/spoils then I think anyone who likes London & British culture, Crime, Supernatural, X-Files will liken to this. Think film Think American werewolf in London for style (but without the wolves.....)

As above the opening chapters take you on a maze of genres as it starts off as a hard-boiled episode of the Sweeney (1970
Jun 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Wealhtheow by: Sue

Like Hellblazer crossed with Peter Grant crossed with--I dunno, all sorts of strange fantasms and philosophies. It started badly--in fact, for the first 20% I didn't like any of the characters, nor did I care about the plot. But then it transitions from a normal undercover investigation of a London mob boss and becomes something weird and horrible and haunting. By the end I was flat out cheering at bits, and chortling out loud, and gasping. This story grabbed me by my brain and
Feb 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
A real 4 star book, cant praise this enough, really well reseached history of london which is merged in with UK modern policing methods to form a storyline in which keeps you on the edge of your seat.

This is what urban fantasy is all about, the author can hold his own with the other authors who use London like Ben Aaronovitch and Benedict Jacka with his own writing style.

will appeal to non fantasy readers who love police based stories.
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Wants to Read More)
It took me forever to get into this book. If it had not been a book I committed to review, I would have DNF'd it. Finally, I reached a breakthrough and I was able to finish it. It turned out to be good, but I feel the writing needed more work to be more accessible. I love British just about anything, but I think some of the Britishness of this book didn't translate very well on paper.

A dark, twisted, and at times, incomprehensible urban fantasy novel.

Reviewed for Bitten by Books: http://bittenby
This is a book that contains some quite graphic horror, including children being boiled alive, and yet, I really quite liked it. Odd.

It took me a while to get into it, in which I'm apparently far from alone, as the beginning is unnecessarily confusing. Two undercover cops - deep undercover, and we're thrown right into it, with the suspected-of-being bad one of them fitted up with a recording device by Quill, the detective in charge of the operation. It really wasn't clear who Quill was, who the
Feb 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels
Although I know there's a genre called urban fantasy/paranormal/supernatural, I haven't dipped my toes into it beyond a few examples that bleed over into the detective genre. As it happens, both of those were also first books in London-set series: Ben Aaronovich "Rivers of London" series (Midnight Riot / Rivers of London, Moon Over Soho, Whispers Underground) and Christopher Fowler's Bryant and May series (Full Dark House, The Water Room, Seventy-Seven Clocks, etc.). The premise of those two ear ...more
Stephanie Swint
Mar 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
I found Paul Cornell through Ben Aaronovitch – author of The Rivers of London Series. I was checking his Goodreads page to find an update for ‘Foxglove Summer.’ Aaronovitch read and rated ‘London Falling’ well. London officers are investigating Crime Boss Rob Toshak, who for ten years has been able to charm jury’s and get off without a slap on the wrist to their endless frustration. It has some basic similarities to The Rivers of London. There is a paranormal division in the London police that c ...more
Terry Weyna
Apr 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Just when you thought there was nothing new to be done with urban fantasy, Paul Cornell comes along with London Falling and mashes up the police procedural (i.e., a mystery solved by the police, using the tools at their disposal and confined in their scope by the law) with demons and British history. Until you read it, it’s hard to imagine a police officer giving the “right to silence” speech (the British version of the American Miranda warnings) to a creature who is doing her best dispose of hi ...more
Jan 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of police procedurals, dark urban fantasy, noir
Recommended to Katy by: Amazon Vine
Book Info: Genre: Dark Urban Fantasy/Police Procedural
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Fans of police procedurals, dark urban fantasy, noirish stories
Book Available: April 16, 2013 in Hardcover and e-book; previously released in December 2012 in paperback, which edition is no longer available
Trigger Warnings: Drug dealing, use and abuse; murder (including children); organized crime
Animal Abuse: Sacrifice of pigs, cats, and dogs; while Mora's cat is just a construct made from a dead cat, it
All Things Urban Fantasy
Aug 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
LONDON FALLING is now the second book I’ve read in the last month about serial killers in London. Which is weird, because until now I couldn’t have told you how long it’s been since I’ve read any book with serial killers in them. I’m not sure what my point is other than to say that at no time during the book did I feel I was treading on familiar ground. Normally when I read similar books I end up putting the second one aside for a bit because it just doesn’t feel ‘fresh’. LONDON FALLING definite ...more
This is probably one of the best new books I have read in a while.

DS Anthony Costain and DC Kevin Sefton are undercover cops, DI James Quill is their boss, with them is Lisa Ross, police civilian intelligence analyst. They are working an operation designed to bring down gang leader Rob Toshack. All goes wrong when Toshack is murdered in the interrogation room by an invisible assailant, in front of Quill and other police witnesses. Suddenly the London Met's finest are dealing with something they
Apr 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this.

London Falling is not at all what I was expecting. It starts as a straightforward police procedural thriller, but very quickly veers off into a dark - very dark - supernatural shocker.

A suspect dies in police custody in what can only be described as "strange" circumstances. A small team of dysfunctional coppers, each with their own demons and insecurities are tasked with solving the riddle, and find themselves pursuing the most elusive, prolific and sinister serial killer that Lond
Feb 24, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: readers of grimdark urban fantasy and police procedurals
Recommended to Carly by: Me. And Doctor Who. And Ben Aaronovitch. And the gorgeous cover. But mostly me.
**edited 12/04/13

D.I. Jimmy Quill of the Met is well aware of the disastrous ways a five-year undercover sting might end: you might not capture the perp; you might not be able to pin anything on him; your UCs might defect or be injured. And, of course, you might have the kingpin in custody and willing to confess when he inexplicably explodes in a welter of blood--right in the middle of a police interrogation room. As Quill and his team begin to investigate the mysterious death, they find themsel
Apr 08, 2013 rated it liked it
This review and others like it available on my blog.

I really enjoyed this once I got past the first 100 pages.

Lets talk about those first 100 pages to start with, shall we? The reason they were such a struggle was that they started in the middle of the action. This isn't normally a problem, but it can be when all your characters have the same 'voice'. Now, what I mean by that is that the working-class young black copper 'sounded' exactly the same as the shy, nervous female tech, and the middel-a
Aug 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone, because I'm an optimist XD
I am about to write a review the like of which I have never written on this site or anywhere else for that matter. I'm going to gush. The reason for this is that all my favorite books have been read for the first time a long, long time ago and I've forgotten what it really means to experience a favorite book for the first time. I have now remembered while reading the London Falling.

If I could have given this book 10 stars, I would have.

It's not a book you can read in a couple of hours. If you ar
colleen the convivial curmudgeon

There's a part of me which feels that bumping this 3.5 star up to 4, instead of down to 3, is being a bit generous. Thing is, there are some parts that I did "really like" and others that I was less enamoured with - but the problem is I can't quite put my finger on the latter parts, and, overall, I did dig the story so, 4 stars it is. At least at the time of writing this review (and I always leave open the option for later edits.)

Anyway -

Many people on goodreads have shelved this book as urb
Dec 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is the first book in the Shadow Police series by Paul Cornell, and may I start by saying, "Finally something that feels a bit fresh on the urban fantasy scene."

The story centres around 4 main characters (all Police personnel from several different fields) with very different backgrounds and personalities who are all very well written and really fleshed out, these everyday hero's follow their latest undercover operation, and stumble across a side to London that they never knew existed, full
London Falling is one of those rare police procedural books that I actually think is interesting. While it is heavy on the police procedure, Cornell keeps all of his characters so incredibly human and flawed that the procedure part of things isn’t oppressive. The novel is paced in such a way that readers will unravel, figure out, and discover along with the protagonists. Cornell depicts the fantastical elements of London in unique, rather clever ways, and describes the reasons behind certain thi ...more
Sep 19, 2015 rated it liked it
This book was recommended to me by a Scottish friend who is an UK urban fantasy mavin. If you wanted to split hairs, I'd call this more of a Horror/Police Procedural or Supernatural/Police Procedural than an Urban Fantasy.

When I started reading, I was initially confused. I had a hard time convincing myself it was a Brit Police procedural-- for the first couple of chapters, except for an odd word, it seemed too *American*. Also, the supernatural element was not immediately present in the story. A
Rachel Groves
Loved the idea of this book but it just doesn't quite work for me. The premise of the book is that 3 police officers & an intelligence analyst form a team to investigate a crime with a supernatural element and acquire "the Sight" which allows them to see ... well is it evil, is it ghosts, is it an alternate reality? They don't really understand what's happening & we only progress through their perspectives which left me feeling confused and irritated. It's all a bit too vague and clunky.

I'm not
Jun 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-books, 2016-reads
I'm not a big fan of urban fantasy.
Nevertheless I found this one interesting enough to read.

This is my first book read in 2016 and it has been surprisingly good.
I read somewhere that this is "black magic procedural" and there is truth in this description.
Well created characters with an own past who are intertwined in a story of life and death.
Well executed mix of inner dialogue full of doubts and emotions combined with proper police pocedural and a lot of action.

Can't wait to read the next book
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Play Book Tag: London Falling by Paul Cornell - 4 stars 1 11 Jul 10, 2019 08:29PM  
Play Book Tag: London Falling - Paul Cornell (4 stars) 2 17 Jul 09, 2019 04:46AM  
Girls, Guns and G...: Shadow Police Series / Paul Cornell 27 22 Jul 22, 2017 10:51AM  
Flights of Fantasy: July 2015 - Fantasy: London Falling by Paul Cornell 15 35 Aug 10, 2015 05:49AM  
I loved this book 3 20 May 30, 2014 06:42AM  
Any places that would sell the ebook to an American? 1 16 Dec 24, 2012 01:50PM  

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Paul Cornell is a British writer of science fiction and fantasy prose, comics and television. He's been Hugo Award-nominated for all three media, and has won the BSFA Award for his short fiction, and the Eagle Award for his comics. He's the writer of Saucer Country for Vertigo, Demon Knights for DC, and has written for the Doctor Who TV series. His new urban fantasy novel is London Falling, out fr ...more

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“You hear stories like that all your life and think: cool, a ghost bus. But now we have to look at this stuff analytically... a ghost bus?! The “ghost” of a motor vehicle? A public conveyance, presumably, which didn't head towards the light, move on to join the choir invisible in... bus heaven, the great terminus in the sky, where all good buses go when they... I don't know, break down, but instead is doomed to … drive eternally the streets of Earth! How can there be a ghost bus?! 7 likes
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