Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)'s Reviews > Midnight Riot

Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch
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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 Northern European either.

It was so refreshing to have a hero who is mixed-race, but seen as black by some; and to others, ethnically uncertain. He couldn’t get on the tube without getting nervous looks from some people who had made up their mind what his place in their world was, without asking him about it. On any given day, due to how much sun he gets, some might think he’s African, or some might think he’s Arab. Peter is unselfconscious about his ethnicity, although very aware that not everyone is comfortable with it. His mother is Sierra Leonan, and her culture infuses him, from her attitude towards hard work, to her frugality, and her penchant for making food so spicy that he has to drink a liter of water to douse its fire. His father is a white former musician with a thirty year heroin habit, and that colors the narrative just as much, for we are not in a small degree who our parents make us. That is either due to rebelling against our parents or through a childhood of being shaped by their rearing. As a reader of black heritage, I have to say that it’s good to see stories that feature characters of black ethnicity. There are a lot of our stories to tell, and they don’t seem to see the light of day, and not in the diversity that reflects the black African disapora. I hope that more leads in urban fantasy novels in the future are of color, because it adds something to a read to see someone who is like you, at least in some small way.

I enjoyed Peter’s character. He’s an insightful narrator, and full of wit. I liked seeing London through his perceptive gaze.

The police procedural aspects were great. Better than watching an episode of a BBC cop show, because Peter explains the ins and out of the Metropolitan Police to a degree I have never caught onto in my varied viewing pleasures. Peter’s acceptance of the workings of enormous wheels of bureaucracy turning in the Met makes what might have been boring, very fascinating, especially with his deadpan humor delivery (classic British wit). As I read this novel, I felt as though I had learned a lot more about the police in the UK, which is similar but different to the US.

The paranormal aspects were good and rather unique. I like how magic is presented here. The way it leaves an essence (called a vestigium that has a taste, feel, and smell) that Peter is able to pick up. When he’s recruited as an assistant and apprentice wizard to Thomas Nightingale, for a part of the Met that deals with the odd and magical crimes, he finds the niche he’d been searching for, with this inquisitive mind, and his insight into science. He doesn’t take things at face value, but he’s open-minded enough to accept that London has denizens that are not human, such as vampires, trolls, and malevolent ghosts who draw energy from those they possess, leading to their gruesome and violent deaths. It was interesting to watch Peter and Nightingale use a mix of police investigative techniques and magic to solve the inexplicable attacks of violence that seemingly normal London citizens are perpetrating against each other. He also comes to realize that the rivers of London are alive, gods and goddesses, if you will. And Peter needs their help to keep the peace in London, but also to resolve the territorial disputes between The Old Man of the River and Mama Thames, who both believe that they have a right to rule the Thames, and their tributaries.

Ben Aaronovitch has already secured his place in pop culture as the writer of Doctor Who novels. It’s great to see him put the fruits of his imagination to the page with this first in the Peter Grant series. After falling for Peter Grant, and his unforgettable narrative of London, he is going on my must read list.

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Quotes Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) Liked

Ben Aaronovitch
“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?”
Ben Aaronovitch, Midnight Riot

Ben Aaronovitch
“Being a seasoned Londoner, Martin gave the body the "London once-over" - a quick glance to determine whether this was a drunk, a crazy or a human being in distress. The fact that it was entirely possible for someone to be all three simultaneously is why good-Samaritanism in London is considered an extreme sport - like BASE jumping or crocodile wrestling.”
Ben Aaronovitch, Midnight Riot

Reading Progress

November 27, 2010 – Shelved
February 4, 2011 – Shelved as: magic-noir
February 4, 2011 – Shelved as: dark-fantasy
February 4, 2011 – Shelved as: occult-detective
February 6, 2011 – Shelved as: owned-copy
March 28, 2011 – Shelved as: black-african-or-aa-hero
March 28, 2011 – Shelved as: character-multi-ethnic-heritage
March 28, 2011 – Shelved as: part-of-a-series
March 28, 2011 – Shelved as: police-federal-agent-law-enforcemen
March 28, 2011 – Shelved as: set-in-uk
March 28, 2011 – Shelved as: urban-fantasy
May 1, 2011 – Started Reading
May 1, 2011 –
page 8
2.58% "I already love this book!"
May 5, 2011 –
page 310
100.0% "Great book!"
May 5, 2011 – Shelved as: laughed-myself-silly-while-reading
May 5, 2011 – Shelved as: ghost
May 5, 2011 – Shelved as: history
May 5, 2011 – Shelved as: hero-i-loved
May 5, 2011 – Shelved as: gods-and-goddesses
May 5, 2011 – Shelved as: favorites
May 5, 2011 – Shelved as: favorite-or-autobuy-author
May 5, 2011 – Finished Reading
May 24, 2011 – Shelved as: male-pov
May 24, 2011 – Shelved as: 2011-reading

Comments Showing 1-23 of 23 (23 new)

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Regina I am loving this book too! Great review. I am loving this aspect especially:

I enjoyed Peter’s character. He’s an insightful narrator, and full of wit. I liked seeing London through his perceptive gaze.

message 2: by Sylvie (new) - added it

Sylvie You ladies have convinced me to add this one to the GROWING pile of TBR.

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) Thanks, Regina. I'm really excited about this series. Sylvie, do check this out.

Crowinator I totally have an ARC of this book that's been sitting around. Your review definitely makes me want to give it a chance!

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) Glad to hear that, Crowinator. I hope you enjoy it!

The Flooze Yay! I suspected you'd like it!

message 8: by Brylit (new)

Brylit hooray and hallelujah, good to see signs of things that make the world of urban fiction so fascinating.

The FountainPenDiva, Old school geek chick and lover of teddy bears Okay, I'm so hooked. The character kind of reminds me of that BBC series, 'The Night Detective'.

The Flooze Oooo. I'd never heard of that show!

The FountainPenDiva, Old school geek chick and lover of teddy bears It was on A&E a relatively short while. The main character was a black detective in the London police force.

The Flooze Thanks! I'll have to seek it out.

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) I need to find that too, Vix. Thanks for the heads up.

message 15: by Cate (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cate I adored this book. It had me hooked from the first word.

Lady Jaye Great review, Lady D! I loved the multicultural aspects best too!

message 19: by Maya (new) - added it

Maya Panika This sounds just my thing. Great review!

message 21: by Rogier (new) - added it

Rogier just learnt of this . haha . on my wishlist

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books) Definitely worth a read, Rogier!

Nurul Nadzirin I enjoyed your review more than I enjoyed the book itself, I have to say!

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