Richard Derus's Reviews > Midnight Riot

Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch
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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 the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.

My Review: I'm on record everywhere as disliking phantasee nowvels with Randomly capitalized woordes misspelled to make them majgicqkal. So why the hell would I even pick this book up? Need an easy target to aim brickbats at?

No.

I feel about this book the way I feel about candy bars: Okay. I won't buy one, normally, because I don't like them much (except Little Debby Nutty Bars, which are Perfection, but this is so self-evident as not to need discussion), but there are times and places for everything, right? I found a time and a place for this book. I liked it fine. It's more what I'd hoped for when I heard the fuss about the Harry Dresden, Wizard for Justice, series. Which I did not like at all after about book two.

Peter Grant and his London are intimately connected. The prose makes sure you know this by referencing the ways in which Peter interfaces with London constantly. Tube stops, the names of branch lines, references to bus lines and street names and the oh-so-British shorthand about a character by referencing the newspaper he or she reads...highways and exits and town names...the UK title of the book, The Rivers of London, is absolutely the proper title for a book that uses those rivers, from obvious and huge like the Thames to small, obscure, and vanished, like the Tyburn, as characters to be reckoned with, and whose central myth-making (highly reminiscent of American Gods) dates the age of some riverine characters to the time when England began to clean the rivers up and bring them back to life...well, Midnight Riot just doesn't do the book justice.

So...Harry Dresden meets American Gods, two things that have elicited negative reviews from me, and I give this three and a half stars. Senile? Drugged?

Honest. This book is meant to be fun to read, and it is, while still being built with a consistent mythical background, and it is, with...and here's the key to my pleasure in reading this as opposed to Dresden or Gaiman...a main character whose journey through the pages of story causes him to alter his perception of himself and his place in the world. Harry Dresden's boring agonizing and obnoxious chauvinistic 'tude towards women are absent. Gaiman's ultraubermega cool world-building is present, but without the static characters. Score!

Okay, that sounds like more than three and a half stars, right? Yep. If the book had had some issues ironed out, the rating would be higher. One big issue is Peter Grant's attitude towards the whole majgicqal mystikal world he's suddenly in touch with. “Oh...okay.” Not enough, Mr. Aa. Another issue is the pacing. How, in this day and time of 11945663-page, 29846-volume series novels, is it possible to make 298pp have draggy spots?! Seriously. Draggy spots! How? And there is the question of series-ness...one doesn't want to give too much away to preserve the fun of discovery for future installments, but the cicerone character of Nightingale, Grant's police superior and apparently a very, very old man, is not so much mysteriously vague and intriguing as annoyingly unexamined.

Flaws exist in all things made by humankind, and one person's flaw is another's bliss, but these are pet peeves of mine. Character development and pacing are crucial to my personal enjoyment of a novel. I'm inclined to be forgiving of first novelists in these matters, but not vets like Aaronovitch, who has written several very influential Doctor Who novels.

So three and a half stars it is. And I'll read Moon Over Soho, the next installment in the series, because I like Peter and his majgickqal world that much. Pretty high praise coming from a mean old curmudgeon like me.

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Reading Progress

June 21, 2012 – Started Reading
June 21, 2012 – Shelved
June 21, 2012 –
page 20
6.45% "This is what I was looking for when I picked up the Harry Dresden books, which I wore out on partway through the first book due to Main Character Angst Aversion Syndrome."
August 15, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-20 of 20 (20 new)

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message 1: by Jean-marcel (new)

Jean-marcel Hey, I never heard of this before now, but I know this author! He used to write for Doctor Who. Put on some really good books in the 1990s when there was no television stuff.


Richard Derus Well, he's still got the chops, I'm really enjoying this book a lot. I'd say give it a whirl!


message 3: by Jean-marcel (new)

Jean-marcel Richard wrote: "Well, he's still got the chops, I'm really enjoying this book a lot. I'd say give it a whirl!"

You know, I might, if I can find a copy I can read! He was a fine writer back then and I heard he did some other, tangentially related stuff recently, too.


Nancy Looking forward to your review, Richard. This looks like my kind of story.


Richard Derus Nancy wrote: "Looking forward to your review, Richard. This looks like my kind of story."

I would bet good money, based on the 20pp I've read so far, that you'll really get into this. I'm bettin' the review will be up by the weekend, at the pace I'm going. If it was a Kindle book, I'd be done already, but it's one of those bloody awful mass market PBs and they hurt my hands something fierce to hold.


Chip Dresden gets better as the series goes along - much much better. It is one of the very rare series that I would buy in hardback as soon as a new one appeared. Def worth another shot on your part.


Chip P.S. Worth noting, I think that Butcher really wanted to write epic fantasy but in a writing class his teacher (author Deborah Chester) forced him to write urban fantasy. Per Butcher: "When I finally got tired of arguing with her and decided to write a novel as if I was some kind of formulaic, genre writing drone, just to prove to her how awful it would be, I wrote the first book of the Dresden Files." Turned out to be publishable (obviously).


Richard Derus If Harry stops angsting entirely, begins treating women with respect instead of as clueless idiots who need protecting, and gets laid, give me a jingle.


Chip Hey, it's better than the TV show!

More seriously, I believe most of that does hold true. He grows.


message 10: by Marie (last edited Aug 15, 2012 11:57AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Marie I may have to check out this book, especially if it has character growth!

Sorry to say I gave Dresden four or five books (clearly didn't I find them that memorable) and I didn't think he got any better by then.


Richard Derus Hi Marie, thanks for stopping by! I wasn't in any mood to go on with Dresden...and I'm not getting younger, so my threshhold is lower and lower with each passing year.


Melki I agree about the draggy spots. On the whole, I liked this book, but I'm not going to continue with the series.


Richard Derus Melki wrote: "I agree about the draggy spots. On the whole, I liked this book, but I'm not going to continue with the series."

I can understand why. I'm just missing having some majgickq in my reading life.


Nataliya I'm on record everywhere as disliking phantasee nowvels with Randomly capitalized woordes misspelled to make them majgicqkal.

Awwww, Richard. Everyone needs a bit of majgickq now and then.


Richard Derus Nataliya wrote: "I'm on record everywhere as disliking phantasee nowvels with Randomly capitalized woordes misspelled to make them majgicqkal.

Awwww, Richard. Everyone needs a bit of majgickq now and then."


Heh. Peter Grant might disagree after his first case....


Robin Talbot There are no randomly spelt words to make it seem majgicqkal, it's written in English, rather than American.


Tracey I wonder what ever happened to the tv series...


Richard Derus Tracey wrote: "I wonder what ever happened to the tv series..."

The Follypedia Fandom Wiki takes a dim view of Feel Films's level of activity. It's sad, really, that with a script by a former Doctor Who writer (Aaronovitch himself) there's no interest. Permaybehaps the script is awful?


Tracey *sad sigh*


Richard Derus Seconded.


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