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Rivers of London

(Rivers of London #1)

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  115,511 ratings  ·  10,763 reviews
Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’ ...more
Hardcover, 392 pages
Published January 10th 2011 by Gollancz
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Anneke Actually, you can find the original English title "Rivers of London" if you copy the ISBN No. (which is 0575097566 BTW) into the search box.

Same if y…more
Actually, you can find the original English title "Rivers of London" if you copy the ISBN No. (which is 0575097566 BTW) into the search box.

Same if you prefer the much nicer English cover of book 2, "Moon over Soho" (ISBN 0575097604).(less)

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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  115,511 ratings  ·  10,763 reviews

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Apr 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Great book. Urban fantasy. You should read it.

Why? Here's why....

1. It's witty.

2. It's not cliché.

3. It's smart.

4. It's set in London, and written by someone who obviously knows London.

5. The main character has a great voice.

5. The language is great. (See below.)

6. It hasn't been dumbed down for the American audience.

Well… okay. They did change the title in the US from "Rivers of London" to "Midnight Riot." That was a shame.

But they left a lot of good stuff in. I don't think I've ever
Rivers of London is a fun mix of so many things that I love in my pleasure reads - the geekiness and the science¹, the dry British humor², and the magical/mythical/phantasmagorical stuff in a big city³. What's not to like?

¹ My whole life, basically. Really.
² Examples - Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, even some of China Miéville's stuff.
³ Examples - Harry Dresden books, China Miéville, Neil Gaiman, even Sir Terry.
"Carved above the lintel were the words SCIENTIA POTESTAS EST. Science points east, I
Apr 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: urban-paranormal
Well, I'm always looking for a great Urban fantasy book series, and this one is another one I'll be following with joy! Very much in the style of Harry Dresden, and my other fave, the Alex Verus series. This series is set in modern-day London, and features a black male lead character, who's a cop, and finds himself drafted into the magical investigation unit arm of the police. I love the sensibility of this book, it's incredibly dark at the same time, quippy! The worldbuilding is very interestin ...more
Aug 30, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

Goddammit. I wanted to like this one. I really, really, really did. It has a lot going for it. Midnight Riot, also known as Rivers of London across the pond, has, while not the most original premise, certainly an engaging voice. It's got that dry British humor going on, an initially likable hero, an intriguing world and diverse cast, a science(ish)-based magic system, and a POC protagonist who doesn't read like a white guy with a paint job. It was close, SO CLOSE, to enjoyable.

Julio Genao
city people be like:


first of all, i wasn't too keen on what happens to lesley, but i guess you can't make an omelette without—

*ducks flung shoe*


this painfully-white guy i used to know read this book too, and he said aaronovitch's handling of race annoyed him, because while there is awesomeness like various london water goddesses being nigerians, aaronovitch himself is not nigerian, and people who speak authoritatively about races not their own are typically embarrassing and distasteful.
May 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Re-Read 8/26/21:

Buddy reading and enjoying it as much now as I did the first time. It's wild to go back to the early days. Also disturbing, knowing what will come. ; ;

Original Review:

I'm giving this top marks for a UF for several reasons.

1. Plain enjoyment! (This one should be obvious but it doesn't always work even with a lot of other titles I respect across the board. I may love bits and pieces of them, but then you come across writing that is a breeze to fall into and enjoy throughout, and th
Lois Bujold
Dec 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Rivers of London (U.S. title: Midnight Riot) by Ben Aaronovitch, 2011

I received this book as a gift a rather long time ago. It sat in my to-be-read pile for far too long because, I am embarrassed to admit, of its cover, which looked dreary and literary.

I should instead have looked at the first page, which opens:

“It started at one thirty on a cold Tuesday morning in January when Martin Turner, street performer and, in his own words, apprentice gigolo, tripped over a body in front of the West P
 Danielle The Book Huntress
Midnight Riot is the kind of book that people like me, absolute anglophile and devoted BBC lover, couldn’t help but like. The humor and the texture to the narrative in this book reads delightfully British, but in a fashion that suggests that England isn’t just Jane Austen or Charles Dickens. It’s also Doctor Who, Blake’s Seven, Being Human, Law and Order: UK, and Luther. It’s upper crust and working class. It’s a mix of past and present. Even deeper, it’s the everyday lives of Britons, not all N ...more
Posted at Shelf Inflicted

I’m a fan of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series, even though I got tired and stopped reading after #9. After a while the stories became too repetitive and I didn’t see any significant growth in Harry’s character. His smart-ass comments that were amusing in the earlier books started getting annoying towards the end.

In the hopes I would find a fun read similar to the Dresden books, I picked up Midnight Riot. It wasn’t a bad book, but it wasn’t a great one either. Peter Gr
Stamatios Mantzouranis
The books starts off quite promisingly, with a mysterious murder in the centre of London, only to change its focus almost immediately and take us through a boring and totally mundane sub-plot about two opposing factions of rivers, whose petty conflict nobody cares about, least of all the reader. Apparently, they disturb "The Queen's Peace", so a scuffle amongst youngsters in Richmond is more important than a beheading in Covent Garden. Go figure...

So for the better part of the first half of the
Peter Grant is a Probationary Constable, a term I wasn't familiar with until I began reading. At the beginning the London of Peter Grant is a normal one. The genre is not in Fantasy waters from the beginning. But then Grant witnesses a ghost at a crime scene.

The author reminds me of Ian Rankin when there is police procedure of the mudane type, and Jim Butcher when magic is involved. I liked how imperfect the hero, Peter Grant, is. There is, however, always a trade off. I found the writing style
Feb 24, 2022 rated it really liked it
This is a marvellous reread of a wonderfully humorous fantasy series by Ben Aaronovitch that has London as a central character. I have to admit I originally read the series out of order as a mix of audio and the actual books, I can still remember the first book I read, The Hanging Tree, and being completely bowled over by it and wanting to read all the other books, and absolutely loved the black police officer, Peter Grant. With a new addition to the series coming up, which I will be reading, it ...more
Thoughts on the book:
my review.

Thoughts on the audio version:

As many people have noted, Kobna Holbrook Smith is a fabulous reader. Turns out he is an actor and director is well, with a long list of tv credits, which is kind of a bummer because I hope he continues to have time for the Peter Grant series.

Holbrook Smith is clearly a talented voice actor who can understandably convey a range of London accents, from that of an 19th century itenerant to Nightingale's 'posh' early 20th century to curre
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book, so much that I didn't want to review it right away because I was still immersed in Peter Grant's London. It's the urban fantasy take on the detective novel, a police procedural that gives a close-up view of a modern London with undercurrents of magic and magical beings. I love the tone of this book--it's wry and humorous, but doesn't let the humor take over the scene. It's one thing to be ready with a quick line, another entirely to go through one's entire life wisecracking, ...more
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
I really love this narrator! If I continue with this series, it will have to be on audio as well!

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
May 05, 2016 rated it liked it
A British Dresen Files set in London.

As I said in a previous review, I love London. It feels like a second home to me and every time I go there (at least once/year) I marvel at its beauty. Ben Aaronovitch also loves London. It is clear from the way the city is described in this novel, being one of the main characters and not only a setting.

There is also a fair amount of dry British humor which I enjoy so how could I not like this book?

My only complain is with the story. The author intersects t
Jan 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, this was something different. It had to grow on me. Which, in the end it did. Fun characters, out of the box weird story, humor here and there and all playing in London, one of my most favorite cities in the world. Many streets I could envisage for me, especially Covent Garden, the prime place of crime. It is of course a fantasy story, a young man, starting out as a cop, turns into a learning wizard cop. No, it's not like Harry Potter.... it's kind of a weird fantasy story playing in Londo ...more
Mario the lone bookwolf
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: aaronovitch-ben
One of the best crime, fantasy, horror mixes next to Jim Butchers Dresden files

A kind film-noir hommage and persiflage at the same time.
It´s a love letter to London and especially for native Londoners, there may be the one or other bonus.
Especially the horror parts are well written.
Sam Quixote
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Oh my gaaaaawd, you know what I’ve just discovered? This is the first novel I’ve five-starred in nearly 20 GODDAMN MONTHS (the last being a re-read of Chuck Bukowski’s Pulp, thank you GR stats)!! The hell with it, this calls for an adult beverage - this is a motherloving EVENT! Join me, won’t you? I know you’re all secret alcoholics too… ah booze, you beautiful beast you… slurp…

Peter Grant is the London Metropolitan Police’s newest recruit, hoping for a fun, rewarding placement that’s not gonna
William Gwynne
Feb 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audible, fantasy, reviewed
Before I get into the review, I now have a YouTube channel that I run with my brother, called 'The Brothers Gwynne'. Check it out - The Brothers Gwynne

“Typically, a constable only sits in the commissioner’s anti-room when he’s been very brave, or very stupid, and I really couldn’t tell which one applied to me.”

Rivers of London is an urban fantasy story set in modern London. After constant recommendations from my dad, and then my brother recently, I decided to finally dive into this popular s
Richard Derus
UPDATE 27 June 2013: A TV series is on the way! Maybe 2014!

Rating: 3.5* of five

The Publisher Says: Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with
Megan Baxter
Jul 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Too. Much. Fun.

But not too much. Just the right amount of fun. Ladies and gentleman, if you're looking for a relatively light read, with overtones of the theatre and English puppetry, and undertones of feuding rivers and power struggles, all sifted through the eyes of a police constable who has just discovered that magic is real, and he's been chosen to police it, then this is the book for you!

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enfo
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
London’s Burning with a great urban fantasy series, beginning with this gem.

Ben Aaronovitch's 2011 novel, originally titled Rivers of London in the UK, starts the Peter Grant series of police procedurals that includes magic walking the lanes and etched in the stones.

Peter Grant’s Career Opportunities included a time in the police academy and he was ready for getting payed for playing Police and Thieves for real. Then he happens upon a ghost amidst some already strange occurrences and we’re off o
booksnpenguins (wingspan matters)
"When I’m considering this I find it helpful to quote the wisdom of my father, who once told me, Who knows why the fuck anything happens?”

Funny, fresh and awesomely weird. I still have some minor complaints, but I couldn't put this down 😯
Aug 08, 2015 rated it did not like it
Loved the world building. Hated the incredibly Straight Male narrator and the creepy sexualisation of all of the women characters. Won't be bothering with the rest of the series despite the hype. ...more
Lauren (Shakespeare & Whisky)
“You put a spell on the dog," I said as we left the house.
"Just a small one," said Nightingale.
"So magic is real," I said. "Which makes you a...what?"
"A wizard."
"Like Harry Potter?"
Nightingale sighed. "No," he said. "Not like Harry Potter."
"In what way?"
"I'm not a fictional character," said Nightingale.”


I loved this little gem.

It was hilarious, snarky, well paced and good hearted. A funny, easily digestible read that is eager to delight the reader.

Where do I start with the many
Aug 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I might have a new favourite UF series!

We are in London, my favourite city in the world. Peter Grant is just finishing his probationary period with the Met (Metropolitian Police) and in danger of being transferred to do the most boring and unimportant desk job ever. Until he is tasked with helping in a murder investigation and meets a ghost! From then on, he meets a wizard, river deities, vampires and more.
In his first job as a wizard's apprentice, he has to solve the murder that had him meet Ni
I have to admit that a moderate portion of my liking for this book is probably due to the fact that I am one of those Americans who is instantly charmed when faced with a page of British slang and references. I don’t know if it’s in the genetic memory or what, but I pathetically cannot help myself! Guh…it’s like thar speakin’ mah language but diffrint! However, this book isn’t just a compendium of British slang. I found quite a lot more to love within these pages.

Peter Grant is a young constable
Will M.
Peter Grant dreams of becoming a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Being granted the dreadful assignment of Case Progression Unit, Grant did everything he could so that he may be promoted to detective. His uncanny ability of seeing ghosts was his ticket to his dream. Brutal murders lurk in the city and the gods apparently meddles too.

Peter Grant was really likeable, but only during the first half of the novel. I got bored after about 50% because nothing grand was happening. Nothing gru
This night I had a problem to solve: to read this book till the end or to sleep. And I thought: hell, why do I need sleep when I’m on a date with Peter Grant <3

The idea to present an ordinary human, who reveals super powers in himself, is not quite new, but in “Rivers of London”, the plot, the setting, and the main characters are new and interesting to me and they definitely helped me to have an extremely fun reading experience.

Ben Aaronovitch surprised me with a wise plot, because I found a mi
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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.

Other books in the series

Rivers of London (9 books)
  • Moon Over Soho (Rivers of London, #2)
  • Whispers Under Ground (Rivers of London, #3)
  • Broken Homes (Rivers of London, #4)
  • Foxglove Summer (Rivers of London, #5)
  • The Hanging Tree (Rivers of London, #6)
  • Lies Sleeping (Rivers of London, #7)
  • False Value (Rivers of London, #8)
  • Amongst Our Weapons (Rivers of London, #9)

Articles featuring this book

Dragons, demons, kings, queens, and the occasional farm boy (with a special destiny, of course): Fantasy literature has it all! To celebrate...
530 likes · 292 comments
“You put a spell on the dog," I said as we left the house.
"Just a small one," said Nightingale.
"So magic is real," I said. "Which makes you a...what?"
"A wizard."
"Like Harry Potter?"
Nightingale sighed. "No," he said. "Not like Harry Potter."
"In what way?"
"I'm not a fictional character," said Nightingale.”
“Carved above the lintel were the words SCIENTIA POTESTAS EST. Science points east, I wondered? Science is portentous, yes? Science protests too much. Scientific potatoes rule. Had I stumbled on the lair of dangerous plant geneticists?” 102 likes
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