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Rivers of London #6

The Hanging Tree

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The Hanging Tree was the Tyburn gallows which stood where Marble Arch stands today. Oxford Street was the last trip of the condemned. Some things don't change. The place has a bloody and haunted legacy and now blood has returned to the empty Mayfair mansions of the world's super-rich. And blood mixed with magic is a job for Peter Grant.

Peter Grant is back as are Nightingale et al. at the Folly and the various river gods, ghosts and spirits who attach themselves to England's last wizard and the Met's reluctant investigator of all things supernatural.

387 pages, Hardcover

First published November 3, 2016

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About the author

Ben Aaronovitch

164 books11.5k 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 2,273 reviews
Profile Image for carol..
1,532 reviews7,857 followers
September 26, 2018
Possibly perfect.

The more I love a book, the harder it becomes to review, because I don't want to move out of my state of enjoyment to one of analysis. That said, this was quite possibly my favorite installment of Peter Grant's story yet. The characterization is interesting, there are developments in Peter's personal life, and the overall arc of the series takes a satisfying and solid step forward.

I love the variety of characters and backgrounds, although this particular edition spends more time with the upper crust. Particularly for a mystery, one needs a wide enough cast for there to avoid obvious red herrings or red shirts. The broad number is appropriate for Peter balancing between his more magical life in the Folly, his personal life and his investigations. For the most part, I usually get the feeling that the diversity of characters is merely a representation of the city and not a checkbox; it is a part of who they are, but not the only important trait. DC Guleed, a female who wears a hijab, was introduced as a minor character in Whispers Under Ground, but is starting to play a significant role. Most of this seemed to be developed in the graphic novel Rivers of London: Body Work, #1, but for the most part one needn't have read it as she starts to come into her own as the logical and level counterpoint to Peter's leaps of logic and daredevil spirit. I particularly love her diplomatic skill on the phone:
"I heard Guleed pass this on and some grumbled swearing from Seawoll. 'Tell him to get his arse down here pronto,' he said. 'He wants you to come in,' said Guleed and gave me the address."

Plotting remains pleasantly unpredictable for me. While the stories ostensibly have a main investigation, Peter leads a busy life. There are opportunities to learn more about magic and its practitioners, Peter's family, the ongoing investigation into Leslie, side investigations such as hunting down the Little Crocodiles, learning about the history of the Folly and so forth. Because of it, both the plots and the pacing often surprise me. I also enjoy that it is very much a 'police procedural.' Peter occasionally goes to a desk, he works a computer, he explains to the reader the structure of a murder investigation within the London police. He frequently has asides to explain the approach and legality of police actions: "Guleed circled around the names and the timeline for twenty minutes, twenty minutes being about the amount of time it takes your average suspect--sorry, I mean witness--to forget the details of the lies they've just told you, before asking about the drugs."

But at the end of the day, it's always the writing that hooks me. Aaronovitch does a lovely job of giving us a scene, or Peter's thoughts about how he is approaching something, but he rarely tells us how we are supposed to feel about it. That ability to show without telling seems particularly rare in UF. The suspect's eyes may "glance at" something, but they usually don't "furtive" anything. I don't precisely know how Peter feels about Inspector Seawoll, for instance, although my best guess is that it is a complex combination of respect, fear, and a tiny bit of appreciation. It's a technique I first recognized in Agatha Christie, where people are presented, implications perhaps drawn, but it's left to the reader to draw the conclusions, and they may be different. For instance: "Lady Ty... asked the question again in a tone I recognized from my own mum. The one that says: Yes there's going to be trouble, but that is as nothing to the trouble you are going to be in if you continue to cross me." I had a crystal clear visual/audio on that one, but mine is likely going to be different from yours. There's no "icily," "stonily" or "scathingly" or any other of the hundred routine descriptives I feel pepper the average UF.

Ben Aaronvitch's Peter Grant series has become one of the most satisfying urban fantasy detective novels in the field. Read it, and then listen to Kobna Holdbrook-Smith's audio version. You can thank me later.

Speaking of thanks, I owe some to Orient, Caro, Milda and Mimi for allowing me to crash their buddy read. It extra fun to read with other people as enthusiastic as they are for Grant.

Re-listened September 2018, because it's just that awesome. One of my favorite books in a favorite series. Can't wait until the next comes out--already ordered from Waterstones.
Profile Image for carol..
1,532 reviews7,857 followers
April 1, 2022
You know how parents say certain kids love hearing that one book over and over? This is that book for me.

I know, I know: I'm always waxing enthusiastic over Kobna's reading of this series, but the audio version of a story set in London, filled with a wide variety of characters, brings a whole new level of appreciation to the story. Kobna's work on the London stage since 2003 would seem to be ideal preparation for the range of accents, voices and emotions used in the Peter Grant series. One official site lists a dizzying array of accent skills, along with fluency in English, Fanti and Ghanaian, (site: https://www.spotlight.com/interactive...) all put to good use on the occasions Peter's mum makes an appearance.

In this particular book, much of it takes place in the world of the 'posh' elite, giving us a chance to appreciate a range of upper-class/highly educated accents. Somehow, Kobna is able to give us the sassy tones of Bev, the clipped tone of Lady Ty controlling her temper, Nightingales' measured and articulate speech along with the working-class, foul-mouthed drawl of Inspector Seawoll and the swarmy, entendre-laden tones of Reynard the Fox and make me believe each character. That, to me, is flipping ah-maz-ing. For comparison, one of the first audiobooks I listened to was a female reader for Stephanie Plum book, and her voicing of the males in the books felt so false, so awkward, that I was thrown out of the story every time they spoke. Not so here. The only misstep to me is the brief appearance of American Kim Reynolds, and I'd say he's improved that since Whispers Underground. Other Americans fair better. I'd also like to remember that one dangerous moment for Peter (oh, shush; there's many in every book) where Kobna drops his voice nearly to a whisper to read, sending chills up my spine. Just perfect.

To my delight, there's an interview at the end between Aaronovitch, Holdbrook-Smith and one of the marketers from Gollancz that answers many wonderings. For instance, it seems Ben can't avoid Kobna's voice either, and sometimes when he writes he thinks of how the words will sound when read, particularly because Peter is prone to long chunks of distracted thought 'missing a full stop.' And, somewhat reassuringly, other listeners would agree with me that the only voice not done wonderfully is the American. Kobna's mock-outrage at the charge is endearing.

In the interview, Ben mentions that he doesn't have a 'meta' plot all worked out for the series, that his philosophy is 'take care of the story and the meta will work itself out.' I think that explains a great deal about the immediate and meta plotting of the books, which might prove unsatisfying for those who look for an explicitly "progressing" arc rather than episodes in the adventures of life (Note: I too wish my own meta-life would make more progress, but my approach to my own life must be something like Ben's writing). At any rate, my take-away is that Kobna and the series are reassuringly linked. Thank the urban-fantasy audio gods. Or the river ones.

May 2019: Ben made a mistake (because Peter would never make this one) and had Peter say, "the smell of carbon monoxide." Whoops. Like iocaine powder, carbon monoxide is odorless.
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,598 reviews24.7k followers
October 19, 2016
I did not realise when I chose this bewitching and beguiling book to read that it was the 6th in a established series. A lot of world building has been done by this stage. As a result, there was a lot I had to catch up on and make sense of, but I didn't care, I was just loving what I was reading. I slowly began to understand more and more. There is a great sense of location in its setting of London. Peter Grant, is a black police detective attached to the Folly, a unit set aside to look at crime in the magical underworld with his extraordinary boss, Nightingale. It all begins with Lady Ty, a major river god of the Thames, demanding that Peter keep her daughter, Olivia, out of an investigation where Christina Chorley appears to have died of a drug overdose in a exclusive flat in Mayfair. A request that Peter is not able to comply with.

Peter is smart, in a relationship with Beverly Brook, who is a river god, is constantly developing experimental magical gadgets and weapons to aid crime fighting, which given the prowess of his magical opponents, come in useful. He is constantly working to improve and add to his spellmaking. He is partnered with DC Sahra Guleed, a force to be reckoned with herself. The case turns out to be significantly more complex and bigger than expected. There is the return of their foes, the Faceless Man and Lesley, the ex-cop who turned to the dark side. A number of parties want to get their hands on Jonathan Wild's Ledger, including a shady bunch of American operatives which Special Agent Kim Reynolds of the FBI warns Peter about. The Hanging Tree is the Tyburn gallows located where the Marble Arch is now. There are phenomenal magical battles, violence, a trail of destruction and demolition with Peter and DC Guleed fighting for their lives.

This is a story with plenty of comic touches and humour. The world building is just fabulous, spellbinding and the writing is impressive. The characters are complex, diverse and superb and include spirits and ghosts. I became particularly fond of Sahra Guleed when she administered a well executed Glasgow kiss. I really did not want the book to end. It is a series that gets the reader hooked almost immediately. Loved it, and needless to say, will be reading others in the series. Brilliant novel that I cannot recommend highly enough. Thanks to Orion for an ARC.
Profile Image for Em Lost In Books.
871 reviews1,759 followers
February 10, 2020
Peter is back in London after the shocking events in Herefordshire and as they say no rest for the wicked, so he soon finds trouble chasing him. But this time the case involves the high profile (in terms of magical society) of London, so it is necessary for Peter to be even more careful as one misstep would led him to face the wrath of the Goddess.

This book brought back the story back on the track after that little detour in Herefordshire. Peter and Nightingale are now once again after the Faceless man, the series baddie. I love how Peter tells us about the history of magical society, relics, and stories. There is so much information and yet somehow it never gets boring because of how Peter tells about them.

I must put in some words here about the secondary characters that help Peter in solving the case. Be it Kumar or Dominic or Guleed, they all are just so fantastic. Their conversations with Peter are hilarious, and their acceptance of his magic is admirable. True, they all were hesitant at first but once they get to know him and his magic, their trust of him gives the story a remarkable strength. It never felt that they’re introduced in this book only but it seem like they have known Peter since forever and this blend of races is what I love most about these stories.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,962 followers
September 4, 2021
Re-Read 9/4/21:


Great police action meets great down-to-earth magic meets geek. Still as good the second time.

Original Review:

These books have steadily been getting better and better and better, or perhaps it's just me getting so far invested in the stories that I can't even tell the difference anymore.

Either way, this says very great things about the books. :)

I am invested as hell.

Aaronovitch's UF writing is rather unique in that his mystery writing is unparalleled, the magic system is firmly grounded, explored, and interesting, and the MC in Peter is just a lovable nerd. Never mind that he's an apprentice wizard working for the London police force or a small subsidiary called the Folley, this is really just a fantastic police procedural full of unpredictable mysteries and grabbing reveals.

This book, however, takes everything that has been building up in the previous five books and focuses yet again on the Faceless Man and poor Leslie. In my opinion, this was a squee-worthy move on the author's part. At least, I was practically slathering with all the great reveals and directions it took.

Dealing with the rich and the issue of the other mystery was well enough and a nice departure, to be sure, but getting back into the grand arc story was simply delicious.

And now I'm stuck in the unenviable position of pining away for book seven. Who knows how long it will take? Alas!

Do I recommend this UF? HELL YES. It's one of the very best. :)
Profile Image for Orient.
255 reviews208 followers
November 21, 2016
My playdate with Peter Grant is over and I already miss our great time together <3 He’s always a charmer in his way of dealing with difficulties :)

Well, we all have our ways of dealing with difficulties – mine is to ask stupid questions.

Mr. Aaronovitch once again charmed me with his fab skill combining detective genre, police work, mythology and wit with UF. The book is well paced as well as entertaining to read. Mr Aaronovichs combined humor with serious content in an endearing and gripping way that made me giggle almost all the time. There is easy-flowing and sometimes dark wit in the writing which suited me well as it’s not my first date with Peter Grant and the ongoing tone of the series has the sharp hook and characters I root for.

"The Hanging Tree" answered some questions that kept bugging me about Peter Grant’s world (who's the big bad villain, what's his intentions, what happened to some of the characters from earlier book and ect.) and (to my joy) added some new questions and made me hungry to know more about the Rivers of London and the magical world around them. That means that Peter Grant is not going to stop charming me and won’t end his adventure quickly <3 (Please Mr. Aaronovitch, make it 10 books at least!!! ;))

Like elite brandy, the story together with the amazing writing skill of the writer, bloomed with good quality and it's definitely improving as the series continue. Magical London with enchanting Goddesses and charming mixed race characters is what I need to be totally sucked in :)

I was so happy to have more of Guleed, the shiny new Peter’s partner in dealing with magical crimes. She’s definitely worth to be my favorite kickass heroine as nobody sneaks up on the Muslim ninja. I even find her more likable than Lesley. Maybe Guleed will have he permanent role in Peter Grant series <3

...the first draft of Procedures Relating to Serious Falcon Incidents a.k.a. How to Deal with Weird Bollocks was currently sitting as a half-finished Word document on my hard drive back at the Folly.
I called Nightingale, who said he was fifteen minutes away and asked him to authorise a little look.
‘Yes,’ he said immediately. ‘But carefully, Peter.’
I told Guleed that it was standard procedure for a second officer to stay outside the immediate Zone of Potential Magical Effect (ZPME) in order to facilitate communications should my Airwave and personal phones be compromised. Guleed was rightly suspicious.
‘Is that true?’ she asked.
Just as soon as I get back to the Folly and add it to the Word document, I thought.
‘Just make sure nobody rushes in,’ I said. ‘Especially you

I felt at home in the Folly once more. Also I got more of Mr. Witcher and it was great to watch him doing his magic in the battle field. Thought, I think, Molly still has to wait for her star-hour. I would eagerly wait for that! :)

It was great to see the mouthy duo of Seawoll and Stephanopoulos having fun in more episodes :D

‘No offence, Peter,’ she said. ‘But we were kind of relying on you to provide that information. Us just being normal run of the mill coppers none of who are versed in the mystic arts or currently shagging a supernatural creature.’

Olivia and Phoebe had been watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine on that TV when the attack started and had only avoided serious injury because they’d both happened to be lying prone on the sofa.
‘Saved by snogging,’ had been Seawoll’s verdict. ‘Let that be a lesson to you.’

I like when the bad villain is not easily defeated and the one in this book (and the series too) is a long-term one. He has a great acolyte to help in making an even bigger mess. Their team is cruel, shrewd and witty – a dangerous and charming combination to make them a perfect rival for Peter and his friends :) There’s a hint that one more terrible evil force from the earlier books is going to make a grand show in the future books! Can’t wait to dive into another adventure with Peter Grant!

This book was a really alluring and entertaining ride with my beloved characters from the earlier books and the new likable ones :)
Profile Image for Lois Bujold.
Author 180 books37.7k followers
September 1, 2018
No spoilers...

4 stars for the book in general, 5 for the parent-and-child themes running throughout, weaving in and out beneath, and ultimately driving, the action plot. Protagonist-narrator Peter Grant's trademark voice and dry humor remain in fine form.

I'd meant to review this ages ago, then thought it needed another reading first (not a suffering), then it got pushed down my queue. Just reread it in preparation for the next book in the series, Lies Sleeping, coming up in November 2018 from DAW here in the US, in the certainty that the events of it will follow hard on the heels of this one, and be closely intertwined.

The Hanging Tree reread very well, in that second-time-through-a-mystery way where one gets to watch how the writer is playing, or palming, all the cards. Contains major developments in what has grown into the central plot arc of the series, the pursuit of the Faceless Man, a rival in magics to the marvelous Thomas Nightingale, formerly last wizard in Britain, who I presume is continuing to age backward. I have the dimmest recollection of that being one of Merlin's tricks, in one of his many versions, and I continue to wonder if there will eventually be some connection made between the two, although London and Wales do not seem very mythically congruent. There are hints at the end that the Faceless Man himself may be more played than player, by a higher power still; I'll be on the alert for developments of that idea in the next exciting episode.

I still need to catch up on all the graphic novel side-stories, any of which could be a novella in its own right.

Again, this is a series that has enough continuing plot and character development to be best read in order. Start with Rivers of London, retitled in the US Midnight Riot, and go on till you come to the end. In the US, the series suffered a publisher jump between Volumes 3 and 4, which is not usually good for coordinating promotion, but e-book availability may mitigate that hazard.

Ta, L.
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,867 reviews16.5k followers
February 19, 2018
Now we are in the springtime of our discontent, when I must wait until JUNE!! for the next installment in this freakin’ great series!

Ben Aaronovitch has created one of the best urban / contemporary fantasy series of recent date, or HELL for that matter EVER, with his Peter Grant series. Grant is the protagonist, a police constable in the Metropolitan police force of London who, a few books back, saw a ghost and then was approached by a dapper Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale who introduced him to a very small section of the Met whose job it was to investigate and sort out crimes of the ... eh, um … magical sort.

Grant soon learned that using the “M” word was generally frowned upon, that the existence of this branch of the service was known to the higher ups, mostly accepted, though grudgingly and with not a small tough of standoffishness and HEY PRESTO! Nightingale settled Peter in as his next apprentice – wizard.

Or practitioner as they say in the Folly, the name of the HQ of this mysterious department.

And so we come to Aaronovitch’s brilliant sixth book in the series (though there are a few short stories and some graphic novels – of which I am ravenously reading). Published in 2016 we are now in the desperate wait for the next in the series, 2018’s(!) Lies Sleeping.

Up to now we’ve seen plenty of the “M” word as Peter learns to make spells and to get better at his new craft. All the while he is also maintaining and getting better at being a proper copper in the old London sense. We’ve learned of magical creatures, Fae, underworld characters of vague origin and, of course, the Rivers.

Unlike some other urban fantasies with your garden variety vampires and werewolves, Aaronovitch has only given us hints of such folks, or when he does it’s in a new style, with new rules, and only subtly hinted at. And unlike resurrecting the old Celtic and Norse (and Greek, Egyptian, Slavic, etc. etc.) pantheons, our writer describes Genius loci – or gods of the rivers. These are incarnations of the rivers themselves with godlike powers. We meet Father Thames, up near the source, and Mother Thames in the city and then all the tributaries as lesser gods and goddesses.

And there is a recurring mysterious villain called the Faceless Man, whose nefarious machinations keep creeping up to endanger Peter and lure Nightingale into a magical duel.

And it’s FUN, FUN, FUN!

The Hanging Tree finds Peter and the Met allies of the Folly investigating a possible overdose that involved one of the daughters of Tyburn, the most powerful of Mother Thames children. This search leads to more clues about the Faceless Man and more magic tomfooleries than you can shake a whomping willow at.

Profile Image for Caro the Helmet Lady.
762 reviews345 followers
November 19, 2016
So you've already heard that prince Harry is dating some black girl, huh? What can I say - well played, Mama Thames, well played! ;)

On the happy side - this book was SO great!
On less happy side - and now I have to wait for the next one again for another whole year (and I'm being optimistic here).

So our good lad Peter is back in London, cheeky and witty as ever, ready for more adventures and more new... let's say friends. I like how Aaronovitch is adding new characters into every next book and how they're always so well done and well described. Also, he never forgets about the old ones. There's one comeback that you might be surprised with... Not spoiling! I only wish there was more Molly in this story. Our Molly from the Folly definitely deserves more action than a mere baking session. Although I enjoy the idea that she's on Twitter. Who knows, maybe we can befriend her on facebook too? And our good old Nightingale - he's also got some new... friends. I only wish he was up for no good more often!!

As always we get a lot of information on London and it's architecture and a little glimpse into the history of the city, which is just great.

In short - it's good to have you back, Peter Grant, even just for a couple of days! I will definitely do a re-read, starting with book 1, sooner or later.

P.S. Do you guys fancy seeing Peter's adventures as a movie/series? What do you think of the possible cast?
Profile Image for Algernon (Darth Anyan).
1,493 reviews958 followers
December 22, 2016

His mates on the Metropolitan Police Force are having a raffle about which arhitectural landmark of London will be blown to smithereens next by PC Peter Grant, junior member on the Force and rookie practitioner of magic. It's not like he deliberately sets out to rearrange the metropolis skyline, but trouble follows Peter around like groupies chasing rock stars. Peter is the main attraction of Ben Aaronovich supernatural police procedural series, a geeky young man full of vim and curiosity about the world around him. His favorite subjects include arhitecture, history, exotic cooking, fast cars, jazz, electronic gadgets, magic experiments and fae creatures living among the rivers and brooks of London. He has a great sense of humour, a strong belief in a multicultural and multi-species society and a great future in the Met, if he can avoid blowing things up.

Unfortunately, in this sixth episode of the series, Peter exceeds his quota of damaged real-estate by unleashing magical havoc inside malls, high-rise luxury apartments and million dollar mansions in Mayfair or Hampstead Heath. I guess his promotion is off for the foreseeable future. Anybody else would be long gone from the Force, but Peter is the only understudy of the only surviving magician in England, his boss Nightingale.

"The Hanging Tree" is my favorite in the series so far becasue it does something few multi-volume popular series do : instead of following the usual self-contained criminal case with minimal character development, it actually picks up the scattered plot threads from the previous episodes and brings everything and everybody together in a spectacular battle against the shadowy arch-enemy of Nightingale et Co. . Becasue this sixth novel relies so much on previous events and character arcs, I would not recommend starting the lecture here, but going back and reading the series in chronological order.

So .. what's going on? Last time I checked, Peter was vacationing in rural Herefordshire and smooching with his hot goddess girlfriend and the series was headed for a twenty+ run. He's still smooching with Beverley but they are now in his London flat when Peter gets a midnight call from the girl's aunt, Lady Tyburn, cashing in some past favours and asking PC Grant to cover up naughty activities of her teenage daughter. Torn between duty and nepotism (you don't want to anger a river goddess), Peter joins the investigation into the death of a rich socialite girl at an illicit party in the number 1 high-rise in London. It looks like the girl and her jet-set friends broke into one of the empty apartments for a drug and alcohol party, a party that turned lethal when the black market drugs turned too be too strong. The investigation soon gains a magical double angle when members of the group show signs of magic residue and when the drug money apparently came from trying to sell a priceless book : a unique compendium of spells penned by none other than Isaac Newton, the founder of the Folly and of its various affiliates and competitors.

I'm trying to streamline the plot, but really, the complications are the best spice for this police procedural curry, and being clueless is part of the game:

Our operational posture could be summarized as 'confused' and 'ready to spring into action' - just as soon as we had the faintest idea where to spring. quips Peter when quized on progress by his superiors. To make matters worse, more than one agency is trying to get their mitts on the valuable McGuffin : a feminist coven of unlicensed magical practitioners that felt excluded by the all-male Victorian Folly; an off-the-records CIA splinter cell; Lady Tyburn and the other godlike river avatars; the Faceless Man and his cronies; Nightingale and his sole apprentice. The key to the case may be in the hands of a shifty creature half human - half fox with the appropriate name of Monsieur Reynard. The title may be another clue, since it refers to a London gruesome landmark that has become in recent years a meeting place for the 'demi-monde', as Peter refers to people aware of the existence of magic and faeries.

Condemned prisoners were loaded onto tumbrils at Newgate Gaol, and would wind their way through the streets of London, past the rookeries at St. Giles, before hitting the long straight road into the open countryside and the Tyburn Tree.

I liked the plot well enough, especially the hints that the author is not interested in prolonging the central mystery indefinitely and that he can deftly combine 'boring' stakeout, interview and database searching with 'flashy' spellcasting. The reason I look forward to each new episode though is the personality of the main narrator. I am glad I am finishing the year on a positive note - reading about a young man promoting critical thinking, tolerance, prudence, scientific skepticism, curiosity and good old-fashioned common sense - as a counterweight to the rise of fake news, mass hysteria and xenophobia that has marked most of the year 2016.

I'd love to claim that I'd had a gut feeling about the owners, but really it was following routine. In policing, your gut might point the way - but it's the shoe leather that catches criminals.

It's mostly about Peter Grant for me, but I marked down a reply from his partner Guleed, a statement that echoes my own beliefs about trying to take the right to choose away from people in order to satisfy an extremely vocal and intransigent minority:

Hijabs, Guleed once told me, were like T-shirts - you could choose ones that uniquely expressed your personality.

Whether the young police woman chooses to wear or not a hijab, it is her own decision and not something to be ruled by the government.

If I try very hard to find something to complain about in this episode, it is the presence of some not very subtle product placements, but most of it is done in a humorous tone, so I will give Peter Grant the benefit of the doubt (I blame another author for souring me on the practice - Craig Johnson. Now I see paid advertisements everywhere)

Most statements are taken by hand, and it pays to be picky about your writing implements and cultivate an easy flowing style - I use a Mitsubishi Uni-Ball, in case you were wondering.

[This is actually my own favorite brand, violet and wine-red colours preferably, but I still don't see the need to be that specific in fiction] Other examples are more fun and underline Peter's geek credentials - like having a huge screen flat TV, eating Pret a Manger sandwiches, playing 'Shadow of Mordor" on his PS4 or "Angry Birds" on a friend's phone.

When he's not catching criminals or learning new spells, Peter likes to regal his readers with funny tidbits of information about history, arhitecture and trans-atlantic differences [burn, baby, burn!]. I think I would love to read a non-fiction book written by his character. It could surpass Bill Bryson in sarcastic commentaries:

Now, personally, I'd have been happier driving an armoured personal carrier in through the front door. But since we're the Met, and not the police department of a small town in Missouri, we didn't have one.

Have you heard about Ada Lovelace, Byron's daughter? She was a famously gifted mathematician. Who I mostly knew about from reading Steam-punk, but I wasn't going to mention that. Generally considered to have written the first true computer program.

... or about early alarm signals for policemen?

A Peeler could summon aid by shaking his rattle while in hot pursuit of a felon and hoping that people would stop laughing long enough to help. The rattle was soon superseeded by the whistle, whose principal advantage was that, not only could you have a number of prearranged signals for a variety of situations, but you didn't look like a total tit using it.
Once the telephone had been invented, it was only a matter of time before the police got in on the new technology and, first in Glasgow and then in London, the police box was born. Here a police officer in need of assistance could find a telephone link to Scotland Yard, a dry space to do 'paperwork' and, in certain extreme cases, a life of adventure through space and time.

Needless to say, I look forward to the next episode and I hope it will not be delayed.
Profile Image for Emily B.
426 reviews419 followers
May 27, 2021
I’m totally hooked on these! I can’t fault the audiobooks and will definitely miss listening to them when I’m finished
Profile Image for Lindsay.
1,260 reviews222 followers
February 7, 2017
An excellent addition to a wonderful ongoing urban fantasy series.

If you're not aware of this series, it's set in the modern day London police force if they had a division dealing with "weird bollocks" consisting of a senior police wizard and his constable apprentice. The extremely cool aspect of this is that Peter Grant (the constable apprentice) is a policeman first and a wizard second, and modern day policing is at least as strange as any wizardry.

This installment substantially moves the ongoing plot forward along with the groundwork being laid for an extension of the Folly's base and formalizing even more of their processes. The Faceless Man makes an appearance and we also get to see other magical traditions in this world play out. The Folly is working ever closer with traditional policing, and Peter continues to be a wonderful conduit in both directions.

For long running urban fantasy series there's few things better than being able to say "moves the plot forward". There's a tendency to tread water while exploring niche interesting details of the overall world, cynically speaking to drag things out and sell more books. There's an element of both here. While the plot moves forward, the Faceless Man situation is not resolved here.
Profile Image for Carolyn.
2,170 reviews614 followers
July 29, 2018
I'm happy to report that this sixth episode of this terrific UF series is definitely as good as the rest, if not better. I feel that we're really getting to know the characters well. Peter Grant is developing in both his magic skills and his policing skills, making new gadgets and spells to fight crime. Nightingale as ever if there to support Peter and pull him out of trouble by dealing with the heavy stuff when required. Peter's relationship with the river Goddess, Beverley Brook is looking happy and settled and Lady Ty, Goddess of the River Tyburn also features as much of the activity is on her turf and some of the younger river folk have got themselves into trouble.
What starts out as a suspicious drug overdose at a party involving Lady Ty's daughter soon turns into a hunt for some missing stolen magical books and artefacts. Peter and Nightingale are not the only ones who'd like to find them and very soon they find themselves entangled with some old enemies.
What makes this series so good are not only the inventive and unexpected directions in the narrative but also the humour injected into the situations as well as the geographical descriptions and feel of London, past and present. I'm so glad there are more books in this series to read!
Profile Image for Kirsty ❤️.
921 reviews47 followers
February 18, 2018
About 4 years ago at one of the World Book Night Events I was given a free copy of Rivers of London. In the time since I bought all the books and am on my second read through of them. Aaronovitch has fast become one of my top 3 authors. 

The Hanging Tree may be my favourite of the books so far (I still need to get the comics). The characters are really well established by now and I really enjoyed the introduction of others that will hopefully pop up at least now and again. 

With this one we're back to the story of the Faceless Man (who now has a name and real identity) and Lesley May and after the gallivanting around in the last book it's great to see that story line again and be back on London ground. 

If you haven't read this series I highly recommend them
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,217 reviews2,049 followers
February 23, 2017
Another exceptionally good book in this very successful series. To be honest, I haven't actually read any of them. I have however listened to each one on audio and the narrator is absolutely brilliant. There are so many characters with so many different accents and he does each one superbly. The day he stops narrating them will be the day I stop listening and start reading them myself. And I will be hearing his voice in my head as I do so.
Of course he is aided by the fact that he has excellent material to narrate from. It has been a few years since I read the first book in the series but I remember being instantly caught by the characters and by the magical world. Each book since then has developed these more and more, until Peter, Nightingale, Beverley Brook and Lady Ty are like family. Of course the London setting always hooks me in and I love hearing the history of the rivers and their associated gods.
Thankfully Peter did not so we can be assured of more to come. Can't wait!
Profile Image for Mimi.
694 reviews190 followers
January 5, 2021
The tag line on the cover says: Back in London, back in trouble which pretty much sums up this book. We're back in London, and Peter Grant and friends are back in trouble. And it's the same kind of trouble that's been plaguing them since Moon Over Soho.

But finally, we stop chasing after ghosts and faceless mysteries and come face to face with the man behind the mask. And there really is a face behind that mask. This reveal was indeed a surprise, but whether or not it does anything for the series' continuous arc will depend on how it plays out in later books.

This book picks up a month or two following the events in Foxglove Summer, and the trouble all started when one of the Thames sisters called in a favor from Peter. What started out as a simple, straightforward investigation into whether a teenage girl's drug overdose was accidental or deliberate turned into a huge Falcon case, uncharacteristically complete with a huge revelation at the end. Not as big, imo, as the ending of Broken Homes, but it's relatively seismic as far as revelations go in this series.

With that said, I must admit I'm mostly lukewarm toward this book in particular, and I've been mulling over it for a few months now, trying to figure out why that is. The writing isn't that different from previous books.
"So when a bunch of fucking kids waltz into the building, the DPG wants to know how. And I get woken up in the middle of the fucking night," said Seawoll. "And told to find out on pain of getting a bollocking. Me?" he said in outrage. "Getting a bollocking? And just when I thought things couldn't descend further into the brown stuff--here you are."

As a matter of fact, it's very much in line with previous books in terms of quality, plotting, pacing, humor, adventures and misadventures. Peter and the rest of the gang are developing and progressing at their usual pace--I very much enjoyed every scene with Seawoll and Stephanopoulos.
"So he's a French fairy tale," said Seawoll and turned to look, thank god, at Nightingale instead of me. "Is he?"

"That's a difficult question, Alexander," said Nightingale.

"I know it's a difficult question, Thomas," said Seawoll slowly. "That's why I'm fucking asking it.

"Yes, but do you want to know the actual answer?" said Nightingale. "You've always proved reluctant in the past. Am I to understand that you've changed your attitude?"

"You can fucking understand what you bloody like," said Seawoll. "But in this case I do bloody want to know because I don't want to lose any more officers to things I don't fucking understand." He glanced at me and frowned. "Two is too many."


Generally when you're interviewing somebody and they seem remarkably calm about one crime, it's because they're relieved you haven't found out about something else.

Plus, there are plenty of humorous moments scattered throughout the book, and Peter is still his usual funny, likable self. So it's just like previous books.
Bollocks, I thought, or testiculi or possibly testiculos if we were using the accusative.


"What I'm saying here," Seawoll had said, "is try to limit the amount of damage you do to none fucking whatsoever."

I don't know where I got this reputation for property damage, I really don't--it's totally unfair.


"I'm planning to blow up some phones for science."

And yet...

Something's missing. Something's not quite there anymore. And I don't know why.

Maybe the timing wasn't quite right when I read it. Or maybe I'm just tired of chasing after faceless nemeses--both of 'em.

I'm all for more Peter and more (mis)adventures in London. But more faceless mysteries and/or conspiracies? Nah, that's okay.

I could read back to back stories of Peter running around London solving all sorts of mysterious happenings, and they may even be unrelated to each other and the series' arc, and that would be fine. Actually, I would love that. But more mysterious faceless happenings? Thanks, but no thanks.

However, I am looking forward to the next installment and being back in London and back in trouble because, honestly despite the gripe, this series is still one of best urban fantasies out there, and every single book is a blast.

* * * * *

Just found out there's a gif of the awesome book cover:


from this book release announcement

* * * * *

REREAD: April 2020

3.5 stars--it's a good installment overall, but not one of my favorites.

I wrote above that there was "something missing" here. I still feel that something is missing from this book that could've made it an excellent read. Maybe it's the combination of the lack of resolution at the end and more continuation of the Faceless Man mystery that makes me feel like the main arc is being dragged out unnecessarily.

We find out who the FM is but Peter and Co. still can't catch him--STILL--so we gotta wait until the next book. But then in the next book So then, I must inquire, what is the point of all of this cat and mouse chase around the city? Why all the build up?

I have no love for unnecessary plot padding and even less feeling for the FM and Lesley May. Therefore, this book was not and still is not among my favs.

But nevertheless, I did enjoy the read both times, as I'm sure I'll always enjoy following Peter around on his misadventures.

* * * * *

Cross-posted at https://covers2covers.wordpress.com/2...
Profile Image for Hallie.
954 reviews124 followers
January 3, 2017
I ended up getting the print version before it was even on the shelves in town, had pre-ordered the audiobook, and have only myself to blame for it now being *maximum* time before I can read the next one. This was SO GOOD, guys. I read it, listened to the audio as soon as it came out, noticed I'd missed a possible clue so went back and listened to the whole thing again and still regularly return to it at random, just for the pleasure of hearing Peter's voice. (If Kobna Holdbrook-Smith were ever to stop narrating the books, that would be me out of audio. The interview at the end suggests that Aaronovitch values him at least as much as I do though, so that's reassuring!)

It's interesting how Foxglove Summer went, both literally and figuratively, on a side journey. No development of the big plot arc dropped on us at the end of Broken Homes, but in a way that seems kind of realistic, given the lack of Falcon-trained/Folly/Issacs - practitioners. Though I desperately missed Lesley and Nightingale and want them to find the Faceless Man now, I admire Aaronovitch for just not. Or, I admire him one book's worth of that. Kind of a lie. I admire him more but still would have been very cranky had The Hanging Tree not given us so much. One of those 'so much' things being the increasing involvement of Guleed in Folly matters. She's another great character, and I love how she and Peter have each other's backs, without her being merely a substitute-Lesley. The Muslim ninja rocks.

There's a lovely scene near the end where they're about to go into some real danger:

[Nightingale] caught Guleed's eye.

'Sahra,' he said, 'things are likely to get somewhat esoteric before the end, and this is not something you're trained for. I can't, in all conscience, ask you to join us.'

'If it's all the same to you, sir, I think I'm going to have to see this through,' she said. 'Inshallah.' As God wills it.

'Good show,' said Nightingale.

And the last few pages? Oh yes. Also

He can't possibly write fast enough to make the wait bearable...

Profile Image for Paul.
2,307 reviews20 followers
July 8, 2017
Another fantastic Peter Grant novel. Sadly, this is the last one until the next book is released... I'll have to tide myself over with reading the comicbook stories until then...
Profile Image for Wanda Pedersen.
1,860 reviews370 followers
August 11, 2021

***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. This is probably the point where I should confess that I engineered this theme to give me an excuse to re-read the earliest books in this series. Poor old Toby doesn't feature at all in this book but I know he's at the Folly, begging treats from Molly.

And I have to reiterate what I said in my first review: I love the diversity that Aaronovitch works into his fiction so effortlessly. All skin tones, various sexual orientations, assorted religious beliefs, all completely believable. There's the casual racism that we know exists but those practicing it are never reinforced. It's a remarkable version of London.

I think my re-read stops here for the time being. I must clear the decks in preparation for September and Halloween Bingo! I've always been a fan of the new school year and I have a September birthday and now there's Bingo—an excuse to read the mystery and horror fluff that I love. How could the autumn get any better?

Original Review

I must admit that I just enjoy hanging out in Peter Grant’s London. I enjoy each and every one of these novels and the graphic novels in varying degrees, all positive. I adore the diverse set of characters—and I don’t get the feeling that Aaronovitch is actively trying to have “diversity” of cultures, languages, or skin colours. My conclusion is that this is how London is now and he’s just reflecting his city. I’m loving how much Guleed is figuring in this installment and I’m glad to see the River goddesses back in full force. I love both Peter’s Sierra Leonean Mama and his Caucasian jazz-man father.

Not only does Aaronovitch create a diverse police force, but he is gradually assembling quite the range of supernatural people/creatures for Peter et al. to cope with too. Nightingale has been playing his cards pretty close to the vest, not letting Peter know what else might be lurking out there until he has to share. Probably a good way not to send your apprentice screaming away into the scenery.

Peter is acknowledged as a “cheeky bugger” and his internal dialog gives a lot of humour to the series. I love his assessments of police work and those folks that his work brings him into contact with. I love that Aaronovitch gives us these asides, guiding what we think without just clubbing us over the head with his opinions. Plus, I adore Peter's experimenting with his magical powers, testing exactly what distances from electronics are safe, for example.

I’m now caught up to date and the next volume awaits me at the library. Life is good.
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,028 reviews2,605 followers
February 7, 2017
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2017/01/27/...

After two years of watching the release date hover in flux and getting pushed back time and time again, I must confess waiting for this book was its own special kind of agony. That was also when I realized I was irrevocably addicted to Peter Grant.

The Hanging Tree is book six of the series which returns to London and places the main story arc back on track, following the short respite we took to the countryside with our protagonist in Foxglove Summer. The story begins with a drug-related death at a house party in one of the most exclusive residential areas in the city. Normally, the case wouldn’t have been within the purview of the Folly, which the Met’s investigative unit for all things magical and paranormal, except for the fact that one of the party goers turned out to be the daughter of Lady Ty, goddess of the river Tyburn. Suddenly, Peter is in a bind since he owes Lady Ty a favor, and as such he has reluctantly agreed to do all he can to keep her teenage daughter Olivia out of investigation. But as it turns out, his promise might be a moot point. After all, what do you do when the young lady in question is actually brazenly admitting to be the one who gave the victim the drugs which might have led to the fatal overdose?

Meanwhile, Peter and his boss Nightingale are also back on the trail of the Faceless Man, the main baddie of the series. Word on the street is that a rare book on magical properties has gotten everyone in the practitioner community in a tizzy trying to get their hands on it, including covert groups from abroad. Peter has reason to suspect that the Faceless Man has his fingers all over this one, but then there’s a lot going on here, including the fatal house party, Lady Tyburn’s daughter and the person she’s protecting, the mysterious book, a foxy thief, and the American agents who have suddenly shown up in town. Now Peter’s job is to find out how all of this is connected.

The Hanging Tree might not be my favorite in the series, but it was still very much worth the wait. For one thing, we come closer than ever before to finding out all the answers and discovering the whole truth behind the Folly’s greatest nemesis. In addition, a complicated figure from Peter’s past also makes a return bearing surprises for our protagonist. If you’ve been following along all this time, then this book is definitely not to be missed, especially in light of the significant revelations dropped on us in the latter half of the story.

That said, I also thought it fell short of being one of the best Peter Grant books because it had a lot less of the dry, sardonic humor which has always been one of the key hallmarks of this series. While still very enjoyable, this might be the first one that didn’t make me literally laugh out loud. There also wasn’t enough of Nightingale. What I wouldn’t give to see him kick some ass again in another epic wizarding duel, instead of just hearing everyone around him talk about it. He is like the Met’s secret weapon that gets waved in front of our faces a lot, but we hardly ever get to see him in action.

In terms of criticisms though, that was probably the extent of it, which made me very happy since I had such high expectations for this book. It wasn’t always fast-paced, but as far as police procedurals go, it had just the right amount of mystery, suspense, and action. The story had so many moving parts that Aaronovitch was constantly juggling and keeping aloft, I can’t say there was really much time for anything else. Still, we got to see a little more of Peter’s relationship with Beverly, and I’m also enjoying the larger role of Sahra Guleed, another police officer who is shaping up to be the perfect partner for Peter while the two of them are on the beat. They have a great working dynamic, almost like they are of one mind when they tackle everything from suspect interviews to Falcon raids, and I’m really hoping this is the first step to Guleed becoming a series regular.

The more urban fantasy I read, the easier it gets to spot if a sequel is “filler” or an actual book where “very important things” happen. The Hanging Tree, I’m happy to report, definitely belongs in the latter category. Don’t get me wrong because I loved the previous book which was a nice break from the hunt for the Faceless Man, but I’m also pleased that this one brings us right back into thick of things and resolves some of the questions left by the shocking events at the end of Broken Homes. This book is what I would call a real game-changer. While it did end rather abruptly, it’s clear that Peter and the gang will have to tread even more carefully going forward, and the next book should be very interesting indeed. Now if I can only survive the wait…
Profile Image for Hannah.
591 reviews1,051 followers
November 9, 2016
I have a problem with urban fantasy; which is weird because I love fantasy. But the Dresden files got on my nerves real quick, I disliked the two Sandman Slim books I read and pretty much every other series I started, but I do love the Peter Grant books. I find them to be not only clever and well-plotted but also often hilarious.

Peter is one of the best protagonists I have ever encountered and his voice is just perfectly suited for the stories told. He is capable without being over-powered, he is optimistic without being unrealistic, and most importantly he seems like a genuinely nice guy. But he isn't the only great character in the books; especially Guleed holds a special place in my heart and their interaction is just lovely. The Rivers are brilliant and all fully-fleshed out (and their family-dynamic is so realistic!). They are again at the centre of the mystery, as Lady Ty's daughter has been arrested for some drug related offense - and as Peter still ows Tyburn a favour, he needs to get involved. As usual this is only one of several storylines; as the Faceless Man is still unfound.

I cannot believe the next book does not even have a release date yet. I was so happy when this book finally arrived (its release-date having been changed a few times) that I didn't even think about not reading it immediately. But now the wait begins anew.

So I absolutely recommend this series to everybody who hasn't read it and likes fantasy, or crime procedures, or very British novels, or London.
Profile Image for Mandapanda.
833 reviews267 followers
November 16, 2016
Read the UK hardcover version which has been released earlier than the US version. It's been years since I read a print book and I must admit I prefer the kindle. The anticipation and continued delay in publishing The Hanging Tree, book 6 in the Peter Grant series, was intense and has probably made me super sensitive and critical of some aspects of the story. My overall feeling while I was reading was, "THIS is what I was waiting 2 years for???".

The series is known for its contemporary tone and geeky pop culture references. But I found them too repetitive and heavy-handed in the beginning. And there were some monologues from the hero PC Peter Grant that sounded nothing at all like his character and much more the author talking directly to the reader.

I didn't find the mystery so engaging this time although I do love the police procedural stuff. It is very true to life and Peter is always sure to use correct policing techniques as well as magic. The story felt like one of those 'filler' type volumes that you often find as a series progresses. Not a lot happened but a few key pieces were moved around to set up stuff in the future.

Ah Peter! You are such a black and white/Good vs Evil guy. This makes Lesley's defection so deliciously subversive and such a huge moral issue for you. It's fascinating watching you deal with this.

Apart from that I really enjoyed it. This is a brilliant not-to-be-missed Urban Fantasy series with amazing characters and storylines.
Profile Image for Lata.
3,589 reviews191 followers
July 2, 2018
What to say about a book I loved, in a series I love? Aaronovitch's mixture of police procedural, humour, fantasy, history, some social commentary and snark makes me grin and keep waiting anxiously for more Peter Grant. There are so many things I loved in this instalment, so here goes:
-Peter's ability to get distracted by architecture and all sorts of other things, all the time. His ramblings are one of the reasons I keep showing up for this series.
-Though not critical to one's enjoyment of the novels, I like how characters and situations in the comics ("Body Work", "Night Witch" and "Black Mould") are referenced in this book. My first reading of this book left me a little puzzled by these references, but having finally gotten my hands on the comics has helped. I snickered when I saw that Bev's little helper Maxim is still around after Beverly snagged him in one of the comics' stories. And Peter actually has a desk!
-Guleed the Muslim ninja is back as a major character and I love that she and Peter are investigating together. I love this woman and am thrilled that she's getting so much more involved with Falcon cases.
-Beverly Brook seems to get along well with Guleed.
-Nightingale can grin!
-Peter BS'ing his way through a meeting with Deputy Commissioner Folsum was hilarious. Stephanopolous and even Seawoll seemed to find it funny.

-The use of recurring characters: Zach and Agent Kim Reynolds are back.
-Molly apparently shares recipes with people online.
-We finally know who the Faceless Man is!
Profile Image for Milda Page Runner.
299 reviews234 followers
November 19, 2016
*Sigh* Soooooo good. I can’t believe it’s over. I just want to snuggle up with this book and hold it close to my heart and then re-read it as soon as possible.
That light cheeky tone that we know so well from first books in the series, loads of humour, non-stop action and then just a quiet question “Is she OK?” that despite all the jokes and admitted anger just breaks your heart a little. A real rollercoaster unputdownable from start to finish.
Profile Image for Emma.
2,431 reviews827 followers
April 28, 2017
I love this series and this one seemed particularly funny. It feels like Aaronvitch is back on form (I didn't enjoy Foxglove Summer this much) and we're back to our familiar London setting. The story gets started quickly and doesn't let up at all- action all the way. Peter is such a down to earth protagonist and Guleed makes a fantastic sidekick. We see more of Leslie and the Faceless man. A truly modern magical romp through London. Keep it coming Mr. Aaronvitch!
Profile Image for Robyn.
827 reviews132 followers
July 2, 2017
I just have so much fun with these. Aaronovitch is hilarious and the series is progressing with complexity of back story and characters with every book, but not becoming unnecessarily complicated. Yay.
Want to read
June 16, 2016
OMG! I saw this come up in a feed and hovered my mouse over it. It said 'published in 2016' so I'm like:

I thought 'Imma get that book and read the hell out of it this weekend!' And then I clicked on it and it said 'expected publication in Jan 2017' and now I'm all:

Profile Image for Alex Cantone.
Author 3 books34 followers
August 22, 2019
One Hyde Park had four pavilions with four towers containing lifts and stairs interspersed between them. Two were for residents and two were for service staff, because times might move on but the gentry still like their servants to be invisible.

The sixth in the PC Peter Grant series, (bar the .5’s), finds our latter-day apprentice to wizard Nightingale back in London, attending an accidental death by drug overdose of a teenage girl at a party in the most expensive real estate in Britain. Another party-goer is Olivia McAllister-Thames and her mother, the river goddess Lady Ty, asks Peter to keep her daughter’s name out of it. Peter needs to keep Lady Ty onside as he and another daughter, Beverley Brook, are “friends with benefits”.

While tracking down the other revellers - and how they gained access to the apartment - things go awry when the autopsy reveals the cause of death as the girl’s brain was “pin-pricked’ - an early sign of hyperthaumaturgical degradation through magic. Things get worse still when the drug dealer is found in a park dismembered, suggesting the work of Peter’s nemesis, “The Faceless Man”. Their investigation leads Peter and Guleed to a pub frequented by the fae, close to the site of the “Hanging Tree” gallows in Tyburn.

Author Ben Aaronovitch introduces a new character in Lady Helena Linden-Limmer, witch or sorceress depending on her mood, photographed back in the sixties by society snapper David Bailey, and whose powers were handed down mother/aunt to daughter/niece from Caroline of Ansbach - famously brighter than her husband - the future George II…who kept company with Walpole and Leibnitz, also Phillip Boucherett a former protégé of Isaac Newton. Then follows a lively discussion with Nightingale, regarding Newton’s reputed Third Principia

‘There was a rumour that Babbage had worked on a mechanical device of some kind for the Folly,’ said Nightingale. ‘One which might have had applications in the practice – but it was just a rumour.’
‘Was there anything about Ada Lovelace?’ I asked.
Nightingale gave me a funny look. ‘Byron’s daughter?’ he asked. ‘I’m not sure I understand the connection...’
‘She was a famously gifted mathematician...generally considered to have written the first true computer program.’
‘Ah,’ said Nightingale. ‘So now we know who to blame.’

Interspersed with the action is the author’s (through Peter Grant) views on modern architecture, urban planning, social cohesion and all things relating to the English weather.

The wind had picked up by the afternoon and on Ludgate Hill the tea-break smokers were huddled under the inadequate awnings – designed that way on modern buildings to discourage rough sleepers – trying to get their nicotine fix before hypothermia set in.

In homage to “Top Gear”: I walked them around the corner to where their car was parked. It was an honest to god early model MG MGB, a 1968 judging from the dashboard instruments, although at some point it had been resprayed a hideous lime-flower green, once again proving that nine out of ten classic motors are wasted on their owners.

And potted history: Green Park had been laid down by Charles II, who nicked the land off a local farmer, laid out the paths and installed an ice house so that he’d never be short of a cool drink after a hard day of amateur theatre. It stayed on the fringes of the city where it served as a convenient open space for midnight liaisons and the occasional spot of highway robbery.

I recognised characters from earlier books: Reynard Fossman from the Spring Court of the god and goddess of the Thames on the South Bank, references to the Skygarden Tower and Lesley May going rogue from Broken Homes, which seemed appropriate to the story, however resurrecting FBI Agent Kimberley Reynolds and the Quiet People from Whispers Underground seemed unnecessarily messy.

Verdict: another entertaining read, if complicated at times.
Profile Image for Sara.
1,080 reviews359 followers
August 29, 2022
Reread August 2022: Still one of the best in the series so far.

I really enjoyed this instalment in the River of London series. I'm not much of an urban fantasy lover, but Peter Grant is just so affable, down to earth and charismatic I find it difficult to find fault with him.

After the last couple of books kind of tipped toed around the elephant in the room (ie The Faceless Man), this advances the story massively. It's great to see this well developed world continue to grow and build on previous characters and storylines. Guleed in particular is a great addition to the cast, and Nightingale is always good for a bit of magical history. I wish there was more Molly though, as always.

That's another thing I enjoy about this series - the diverse cast. There's a right mix of ethnicity and gender (including a transgender character) that just slots into the story without feeling forced. It's an intrinsic aspect of London life, and one of the wonderful things about the city is this richness in cultural backgrounds. The books always do this so well, and it's obvious that the author loves London and it's complicated, beautiful history.

I'm hoping the next one is just as good, because this series continues to get better and better.
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