I have to admit that I’m a junkie for books. And I satisfy my cravings in bookstores wherever I go. So, of course, my recent trip to the U.K. required visiting the book shop at the Writer’s Museum, the book sections of every gift shop I entered, and two trips to Waterstones Bookstore (both in the same day…true junkie behavior).
Yes, my suitcase got quite heavy.
On one of those sojourns into Waterstones, I came across a book that turned out to be fabulous enough to join the ranks of my Saturday Selections….
- The Book: Rivers of London
- Author: Ben Aaronovitch
- Genre: Hmm….mystery, fantasy, humor
- ISBN: 978-0-575-09758-2
On his routine duties, Constable Peter Grant is called to investigate a murder. And not just your run-of-the-mill stabbing – the victim’s head has been knocked off. As his partner heads off to get some coffee, Peter takes a witness statement….from a ghost. Obviously Peter is smart enough to not want to seem like a nut case so he keeps the ghost thing to himself.
Later, while hoping his ghost will return with more information, a detective asks him what he’s doing. At a loss, Peter simply says he’s waiting to hear from a ghost. It turns out the detective (Nightingale) turns out to be the head of a magical department of London’s police. Okay, “head” may be overstating things since Nightingale is the only member of the department until he takes Peter as an apprentice.
Throughout the book, Peter learns he can do magic and he also learns of the mysterious world and rivalries of London’s rivers (represented by an assortment of interesting characters). The Rivers help him unravel a murder mystery that turns out to be a dark part of London folklore.
How Was It?
Aaronovitch knows his stuff and takes readers on a wild ride through London’s streets. Even if you’re not familiar with British folklore, the book brings the tales to life with plenty of sardonic humor to keep you entertained.
Yes, there is magic. Yes, there are vampires. Yes, it is a detective story set in London. Rivers of London could so easily have been full of cliches, but it’s not.
Peter’s attempts at magic are so strained and take so long long to learn, you believe it. Aaronovitch even addresses (im)possible comparisons to Twilight and Harry Potter by poking fun of the lack of sparkling vampires and questioning if there is a Ministry of Magic.
Besides believable and informative, book is damn funny. Plenty of tongue-in-cheek humor and even a reference to Black Adder!
So What’s Not to Like?
The final showdown does drag on a bit, but that truly is my only complaint. Well, there is one other: I kept wanting to read the book, but hated reading the book because that would mean I’d eventually reach the end of the book. Luckily this is a series so there are several more books to keep me happy.
YES! After all, it wouldn’t be in Saturday Selections if I didn’t. The one thing this book has in common with Harry Potter? I’ll definitely be reading again and again.
Have you read any of the Peter Grant series? I’d love to hear what you think.