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Midnight Riot (Peter Grant, #1)
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Archived VBC Selections > Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch - VBC May 2015

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Erin (tangential1) | 1638 comments Mod
This month's selection pulls us a little out of our mystery norm, adding a little bit of magic to our police procedural. Our protagonist is Police Constable Peter Grant of the London Metropolitan Police, who is just off his probationary two years on the beat and afraid he's about to be assigned to the most boring of police careers (data entry...blerg), when he sees a ghost at a crime scene and his whole perspective on the world gets flipped. There is actually a unit of the Met devoted to investigating hinky magical occurrences and crimes. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

This series has to be one of my favorites to come out this decade. At it's heart it's a mystery series with Peter getting called in when something weird comes up. And with that element of weird, we get a great mystery/fantasy mashup that Aaronovitch pulls off so so well. He pulls in a ton of pop-culture references that bring a bit of levity where things could go horribly serious. He's got a wonderful cast of characters and brings a sense of place that really escalates this series into a great read.

That's my two cents to start us off for the month. What did you lot think of the book? I know it's maybe a little out of the comfort zone for some of our group, but let's jump with that too. What did you like? And what put you off?


Shomeret | 29 comments I'm a fantasy fan in addition to being a mystery fan. So I loved the magic, the spirits of the rivers and the fascinatingly mysterious Nightingale. I also really liked the development of the family background for Peter Grant. Both his parents are interesting. This book is unusual in so many ways and I love the unusual.


Laura Stratton | 240 comments I was lucky enough to get an e copy from my library this week. I am enjoying the unusual story line. I look forward to seeing how it all unfolds


Lenore | 1079 comments I'm generally not a fantasy fan (with a few notable exceptions like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Song of Ice and Fire), but I was charmed by this, largely because the pop culture and police procedural references, and because of Peter Grant's self-deprecating manner. However, I wonder if the charm is sustainable over the series, or if it wears thin (as I found with Jasper Fforde's books).


message 5: by MaryL (new)

MaryL (maryl1) | 234 comments I read on Aaronovich's blog that he was aiming for an Ed McBain feel: real police procedural with a cop who's good at and likes his job, who just happens to police the "Weird". As the series progresses I think I see that. I love the intersection of the new, modern policing with his old, more traditional "guvnor".


Shomeret | 29 comments I haven't been as impressed with the sequels. At this point, I'm wanting a prequel focused on Nightingale.


Sabrina Flynn | 1158 comments Mod
I'm really enjoying this book so far! It's like an X-Files and Harry Potter mashup mystery. The writing style is great and I'm so looking forward to learning more about Nightingale. I agree, despite the fantasy element, it's a mystery at heart.


message 8: by KarenB (new)

KarenB | 352 comments I just re-read my way through the entire series and really enjoyed them. One of the things I like best is Peter's voice. He comes through so clearly as a character. I like the very down to earth tone coupled with the magic and the self-deprecation and the humor.


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Laurie (laurierking) | 166 comments Mod
I found Midnight Riot (indeed, the whole series) enormously entertaining. What's not to love? A police procedural with magic, a multicultural study with spirits and lesser gods, a history of London that captures all that city's mad, ridiculous, dark and profound corners. And it boggles my writer's mind how effortless Aaronovitch makes it all seem, with three dimensional people engaged a plot that surges forward while he scarcely pauses in delivering swipes to political targets, commentary on the UK educational system, and more in-jokes than any reader can catch.
The series could run to half a dozen a year without making me tire of its charm.


Elisabeth | 113 comments I love this series. Peter is a great character to hang out with; I enjoy all his interactions, his way of thinking, and of course his humor. Midnight Riot was a really refreshing and fun read.


message 11: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 128 comments Sounds good. My library had it only in print but Audible had the audio version so I used a credit and it is ready to download. Hope it's a good narrator, I forgot to check.


message 12: by Kate (new) - added it

Kate | 16 comments I just got it out of the library, so I'm just at the point of being able to say that pages 1 and 2 are intriguing (grin!). The elements of magic put me in mind of the beginning of Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden series, which I enjoy. So as soon as I finish the book for my in-person book group (we're reading Faithful Place by Tana French), I'll see what I think of Midnight Riot.


Lenore | 1079 comments Margaret wrote: "Sounds good. My library had it only in print but Audible had the audio version so I used a credit and it is ready to download. Hope it's a good narrator, I forgot to check."

I listened. The narrator is very good.


message 14: by Merrily (new)

Merrily | 1791 comments Mod
I'm a big fan of this series - not only does Peter have a distinct and enjoyable voice, but I love the combination of a straightforward Scotland Yard police procedural with elements of the supernatural. Nightingale, too, is a great character, a mix of Sherlock Holmes, Inspector Dahlglish, and Dumbledore from Harry Potter! The other element I enjoy is the way the spirit of London (literally) is personified in Father Thames and the other rivers - what a clever idea!


Pamela Gibson | 11 comments I've read the whole series at least twice, and it holds up well. Peter's deep knowledge and love of London come through clearly. I've been inspired to look out other books on London's village history. I wish Aaronovitch had a 'further reading' list, although his blog and website http://www.the-folly.com/ offer more delights.


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MaryL (maryl1) | 234 comments Margaret wrote: "Sounds good. My library had it only in print but Audible had the audio version so I used a credit and it is ready to download. Hope it's a good narrator, I forgot to check."

Excellent narrator, once you hear him, he
BECOMES PC Grant in your head forever after!


message 17: by Merrily (new)

Merrily | 1791 comments Mod
MaryL wrote: "Margaret wrote: "Sounds good. My library had it only in print but Audible had the audio version so I used a credit and it is ready to download. Hope it's a good narrator, I forgot to check."

Ex..."


MaryL, oh dear, now I'm going to get the audio versions, too...


Susan Pola Staples | 42 comments I'll have to request the book from Interlibrary Loan.


message 19: by Erin (new) - rated it 5 stars

Erin (tangential1) | 1638 comments Mod
MaryL wrote: "I read on Aaronovich's blog that he was aiming for an Ed McBain feel: real police procedural with a cop who's good at and likes his job, who just happens to police the "Weird". As the series progre..."

I find that kind of funny, Mary, since there are so many comments in this first book about Peter being kind of a crap cop because he gets so easily distracted. Leslie comments on it every time Peter has to ask her for help on something procedural.

But then, perhaps his true calling is really the "Weird," so he wasn't really good at anything until he got into this business with Nightingale.


Viridovix | 5 comments These books are easily the most police procedural I've ever read and I think that's what makes them, and is certainly what makes them unique. Peter and Nightingale are very well drawn characters and some of the plot twists have actually made me swear out loud. The only real issue, not enough of them yet!


Pamela Gibson | 11 comments A tantalizing reference to some backstory/linking short stories published only in the UK editions has me searching for copies of those volumes. If anyone knows a source, let me know please.


Lenore | 1079 comments Pamela wrote: "A tantalizing reference to some backstory/linking short stories published only in the UK editions has me searching for copies of those volumes. If anyone knows a source, let me know please."

I haven't tried, but you might look at the Amazon UK site. Or see if the publisher has a website.


Viridovix | 5 comments The only short stories I know of are on Ben Aaronovitch's website, Temporarily Significant


Viridovix | 5 comments Don't know if I can post a link, but here it is:
http://temporarilysignificant.blogspo...


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MaryL (maryl1) | 234 comments I agree in the first book Peter is not considered "good enough" by his superiors OR his colleague because he gets "distracted", but usually the distractions turn out to be pivotal clues. He seems to to focus on things not considered "important" but then they are what the rest of Scotland Yard misses. However, that said, Peter is CONSTANTLY quoting correct procedures and tecniques, showing he has a good grasp of essential policing. He also spends a lot of time getting Nightingale up to speed, or at least into the latter half of the 20th century.

In a book further on in the series he also talks Nightingale out of some significant and serious vengence because "It's the right thing to do".

Peter makes me laugh, he is so completely the anti-establisment establishment representative!


Pamela Gibson | 11 comments Viridovix wrote: "Don't know if I can post a link, but here it is:
http://temporarilysignificant.blogspo..."


It worked! Thank you so much. I had stopped obsessively checking his website just before he posted it, apparently.


Lenore | 1079 comments On that very same blog, on October 17, 2014, Aaronovitch posted "Don't worry - as soonm [sic] as we have enough short stories to fill an anthology we plan to release them in one volume. About 2-3 years or so."


message 28: by Merrily (new)

Merrily | 1791 comments Mod
Lenore wrote: "On that very same blog, on October 17, 2014, Aaronovitch posted "Don't worry - as soonm [sic] as we have enough short stories to fill an anthology we plan to release them in one volume. About 2-3 y..."

Lenore, great to know that we have a book of short stories to look forward to. As to the books, I've bought all of mine from Amazon.com U.K., especially in the early days when they were hard to find here.


Viridovix | 5 comments The author has been visiting a library in each borough of London during April as part of City Reads, he seemed to be indicating that short stories may arise from that. There's also an upcoming comic/graphic novel series to look forward to starting in July


message 30: by Merrily (new)

Merrily | 1791 comments Mod
Viridovix wrote: "The author has been visiting a library in each borough of London during April as part of City Reads, he seemed to be indicating that short stories may arise from that. There's also an upcoming com..."

This would be a great series for graphic novels!


message 31: by Sara (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sara | 20 comments I LOVED this series, and have been devouring them- I think there are 5 now?

And echoing what many have said, I feel like it combines elements of the X-Files, Harry Potter, and classic cop mystery with wicked humor, interesting characters, and a decent balance of darkness and hilarity. I'll have to go back to the library for Midnight Riot for more specifics. And/or buy it.

The combination of tech and magic is a great angle, too- has that even been addressed in fiction? The Harry Potter series predates the smart phone... and it seems to me that most books with 'magic' are set in older eras. Kind of a neat modern twist on the unexpected problems of modern-day magician-cops. The struggle, as they say, is REAL.

Also, I'm pretty scared of Molly. And her cooking. ;)


message 32: by Merrily (new)

Merrily | 1791 comments Mod
Sara wrote: "I LOVED this series, and have been devouring them- I think there are 5 now?

And echoing what many have said, I feel like it combines elements of the X-Files, Harry Potter, and classic cop mystery..."


Sara, Molly is pretty scary - and I love the idea that poor Peter can't use certain technology at HQ, or use too much magic around technology as they don't mix. I'm sure there's a metaphor in there somewhere!
I always wonder exactly what Molly IS, I don't think it's ever made quite clear!


Pamela Gibson | 11 comments If anyone is interested to know 'where did you get the idea for Peter Grant from', Aaronovitch answered it hilariously here: http://temporarilysignificant.blogspo...


message 34: by Lenore (last edited May 04, 2015 09:01PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lenore | 1079 comments Merrily wrote: ...I love the idea that poor Peter can't use certain technology at HQ, or use too much magic around technology as they don't mix...."

Speaking of which, I have a question that is only very slightly spoilery, as it relates to the sequel, Moon Over Soho. I just downloaded the audio version from the library, but prior to doing so I read the introductory few pages, in which Peter demonstrates his weir light to Lesley. Before doing so, he removes the battery from her iPad to protect it. Talk about magic! How the heck did he do that? I can't remove the battery from MY iPad, and as far as I know, neither can anyone else.


Viridovix | 5 comments Lenore wrote: "Merrily wrote: ...I love the idea that poor Peter can't use certain technology at HQ, or use too much magic around technology as they don't mix...."

Speaking of which, I have a question that is on..."


I think he describes it first off as 'an iPad clone' probably because of that very thing!


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KarenB | 352 comments I do have a complaint about it and the rest of the books in the series - the vast amount of time I've spent on google maps and street views! I was even worse the second time around since the first time I mostly kept reading to see what happened next. Aaronovitch has managed to use almost all real spots in London so I've had a grand time tracing Peter's steps and looking at the places he is looking at.

Has anyone let Ben Aaronvitch know that we are reading his book in case he wants to drop by?


message 37: by Laurie (new)

Laurie (laurierking) | 166 comments Mod
General VBC policy is, we see which direction a discussion heads into before asking the author, since it can be a touch embarrassing if the opinion is negative...


Lenore | 1079 comments KarenB wrote: "I do have a complaint about it and the rest of the books in the series - the vast amount of time I've spent on google maps and street views! I was even worse the second time around since the first ..."

Oh, dear, now you've suggested a whole new way for me to waste time and procrastinate on stuff I don't want to do. :)


message 39: by Pamela (last edited May 05, 2015 02:42PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Pamela Gibson | 11 comments There's a delightful interview with Aaronovitch on YouTube, discussing 'Rivers of London' being selected for Cityread London 2015, here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrBd7.... There's a music video, there are other interviews, there are sample chapters being read. I was hoping to find that someone had made a video of some of the locales in the books. Still looking. I searched 'Rivers of London', and it found about 116K results.


message 40: by Cyn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cyn (xyndyrylla) | 1 comments I love this book series so much. I read the book and then also listened to the audio book in the car with my husband. This is a marvelous combination of police procedural and modern urban fantasy.

It's a hard-boiled detective show laced with humor combined unsentimentally with magic and mystery.


message 41: by Sara (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sara | 20 comments Merrily- the newest book does shed some insight into what Molly is....keep reading!! :)


Shomeret | 29 comments farmwifetwo wrote: "I've read them all so far and have a love/hate with the series. Some I have really enjoyed, other's I had trouble figuring out exactly what was going on. The detail in "place" had me confused in th..."

I disagree that fantasy is only medieval. Midnight Riot is an example of the fantasy sub-genre called urban fantasy.


Sabrina Flynn | 1158 comments Mod
Sara wrote: The combination of tech and magic is a great angle, too- has that even been addressed in fiction? The Harry Potter series predates the smart phone... and it seems to me that most books with 'magic' are set in older eras. Kind of a neat modern twist on the unexpected problems of modern-day magician-cops. The struggle, as they say, is REAL.

Sara, I loved this aspect of the book too. In Harry Potter, magic was sort of all powerful, but this twist makes it so science and magic interact and it's not without cost. A great balancing for world-building.

I was cracking up when Peter put the calculator and the glowsticks in the pentagram. His curiosity and 'thinking outside of the box' mind really shone through, and I loved that about Peter. It made me think of all the famous inventors and geniuses who did terrible in school and couldn't hold a job, but they ended up making amazing contributions to science.


message 44: by Erin (last edited May 06, 2015 09:02PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Erin (tangential1) | 1638 comments Mod
Viridovix wrote: "The only short stories I know of are on Ben Aaronovitch's website, Temporarily Significant"

Oooooo...I didn't know he had short stories! I know what I'll be reading this weekend, LOL. Thanks for sharing!


message 45: by Erin (new) - rated it 5 stars

Erin (tangential1) | 1638 comments Mod
Sara wrote: "Also, I'm pretty scared of Molly. And her cooking. ;) "

Haha! I was super excited that we got a hint at what Molly may be in the latest book. She's such a mystery. And definitely a little scary, LOL.


message 46: by Erin (new) - rated it 5 stars

Erin (tangential1) | 1638 comments Mod
KarenB wrote: "Aaronovitch has managed to use almost all real spots in London so I've had a grand time tracing Peter's steps and looking at the places he is looking at."

Without looking into it much, I keep thinking that these books would make an awesome tour of London and surrounds. Except when I think about it a little more, there really isn't anything special about the places that he takes us through in these books; they are all kind of normal, run of the mill places for the most part.

On the other side of that, though, it's so impressive how magical and larger-than-life these places seem to be become in my head because they are part of these stories.


message 47: by Erin (new) - rated it 5 stars

Erin (tangential1) | 1638 comments Mod
At risk of a little bit of a spoiler, I think my favorite local so far has been the subway tubes and connecting tunnels in book 3 (I think?). So cool. And the reference to Earthbenders (from Avatar the Last Airbender) totally didn't hurt either. One of my favorite lines of the whole series.


message 48: by Erin (new) - rated it 5 stars

Erin (tangential1) | 1638 comments Mod
Shomeret wrote: "I disagree that fantasy is only medieval. Midnight Riot is an example of the fantasy sub-genre called urban fantasy. "

Yeah, I was going to argue this point too. "paranormal" vs. "urban fantasy" is a super recent sub-genre change the grand scheme of fantasy novels. And no matter how you split that hair, both delineations fall into the "science fiction & fantasy" catch-all.


message 49: by Erin (new) - rated it 5 stars

Erin (tangential1) | 1638 comments Mod
Sabrina wrote: "I was cracking up when Peter put the calculator and the glowsticks in the pentagram. His curiosity and 'thinking outside of the box' mind really shone through, and I loved that about Peter. It made me think of all the famous inventors and geniuses who did terrible in school and couldn't hold a job, but they ended up making amazing contributions to science. "

I absolutely LOVE Peter's experiments! I feel like this would be a thing I would also be curious about if I randomly found out I had magic and could be trained in it. Though, despite the fact that I have science education behind me, I don't know that I would ever have thought to build experiments the way Peter does. He is definitely an out of the box thinker. Very Einstein-esque.


Pamela Gibson | 11 comments Erin wrote: "KarenB wrote: "Aaronovitch has managed to use almost all real spots in London so I've had a grand time tracing Peter's steps and looking at the places he is looking at."

Without looking into it mu..."


I'd love to go on a 'Rivers of London' tour, like the 'Ripper' tours. Actors conduct the tour, taking the parts of victims or major characters. It would make a pretty good play, too. I can just see the werelights, the mob scenes, and of course great sets showing London.


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