Janet's Reviews > Whispers Under Ground

Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch
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's review
Jul 18, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: urban-fantasy
Read in August, 2012

Whispers Under Ground, Aaronvitch's third installment of urban fantasy mysteries featuring magician Peter Grant, you could call a cross between Jim Butcher's Dresden Files and the BBC's Inspector Lewis. While each novel has a stand-alone plot, you definitely want to start the series at the beginning, not here, because Whispers Under Ground relies heavily on your memory of the characters and relationships from the previous two novels. I wasn't as sucked in to the ride of Whispers Under Ground as much as I was with Midnight Riotand Moon Over Soho, but I think I would have enjoyed the novel more if I'd read it immediately after Aaronovitch's previous two. With the distance of a year in between the release dates of Moon Over Soho and Whispers, I'd forgotten why to care about Grant's love interest, and the details of which of the river goddesses is which, for example. I agree with Bookyurt that the whodunit doesn't have much heft or urgency. However, I could have forgiven that easily if I'd seen more character tension or character development to invest in. One of my favorite elements in Aaronovitch's series is the clash as a blue-collar style son of African immigrants elbows his way into the snooty white upper crust of London magic - but this is barely present in Whispers. There is some fun snarking at jurisdiction within the police world, but there's less tension between Peter Grant and the murder squad and the FBI representative than I expected. (Don't be misled by the back cover blurb - the trigger-happy FBI babe is barely a part of the story.) Aaronvitch makes magic so hard to learn that he can't use the simple method of having a wizard apprentice grow by becoming more proficient and powerful at magic. I was interested as Grant becomes more aware of his mentor's flaws, but otherwise I didn't see Grant developing in interesting ways this time. However, I'm still looking forward to Grant's next adventure.

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