Tag Archives: Peter Grant

‘The Hanging Tree,’ by Ben Aaronovitch

The Hanging Tree

If you’ve followed my reviews of Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series of comic-mystery fantasies, you know that Detective Constable Peter Grant works for “the Folly,” a secret division of the London Metropolitan Police. The Folly’s brief is to deal with supernatural, magical crime. Peter is still learning his magical craft under Inspector Nightingale, an eccentric officer over a century old. The “Rivers” of the series title refer to several women who are in actuality the local goddesses of London’s various rivers, the daughters of “Mother Thames.”

In this installment, The Hanging Tree, a young socialite is found dead of a drug overdose in an upscale apartment building. The investigation turns up connections to certain members of Mother Thames’ family, and so the Folly is called in. Their inquiries uncover drug dealing among members of the semi-magical “demimonde,” and the trail leads to the Faceless Man, a magical supervillain Peter and Nightingale have been hunting for some time. It all culminates in a magical showdown in which a great deal of real estate gets trashed.

As always, the writing is excellent (although I’m annoyed by Peter’s narratorial tendency to use the construction, “me and x did so and so”), and the story combines excitement and wit.

However, I think this will be the last Rivers of London book for me. The series bears a resemblance to the revived Doctor Who TV series (for which author Aaronovitch has been a writer), including its ideological themes. Each book works more LGBTQ (etc.) characters in. I suppose the idea is to acclimate the reader to such things, in a frog-in-the-kettle manner. However (as you probably know), the frog in the kettle is an urban myth. Real frogs in real life stay until the water gets uncomfortable, and then jump out.

Which I’m doing now.

The ‘Rivers of London’ series, by Ben Aaronovitch

Moon Over Soho Whispers Under Ground Broken Homes Foxglove Summer

The rolling news networks loved the idea of a shadowy network of camps. It gave them hours of talking heads and a chance to stick a body from Migration Watch or UKIP up against a government spokesman or, even better, from someone from the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants in the hope that they would both kill and eat each other live on air.

I reviewed Ben Aaronovitch’s Midnight Riot a few inches down the page. I decided to pick up the next book in the Rivers of London Series, and before I knew it I was hopelessly caught up in these infectious books, which aren’t even in my usual line.

The hero and narrator is Peter Grant, a young London police detective. By good (or not) fortune, he has found himself attached to a shadowy unit of the Metropolitan Police whose name keeps changing, but which deals with supernatural crimes. The sole member of this unit, up until Peter’s arrival, was Inspector Nightingale (a somewhat Doctor Whovian character, which is no surprise since author Aaronovitch used to write for that BBC series). Later they are joined by Leslie May, a young female constable who trained with Peter and is his best friend. They operate out of “The Folly,” a large estate in London. Continue reading The ‘Rivers of London’ series, by Ben Aaronovitch

‘Midnight Riot,’ by Ben Aaronovitch

Midnight Riot

Urban fantasy is not a genre I generally favor. However, when I saw Ben Aaronovitch’s Midnight Riot, an urban fantasy involving police detective work, I thought it was worth a try. I liked what I found. It’s sort of Harry Potter goes to Scotland Yard, as you’d expect, but it has special (outstanding) qualities of its own.

London Probationary Constable Peter Grant is about to receive his first assignment. He dreams of working in CID, solving homicides. His superior, however, thinks he’d be a better fit in the Case Progression Unit, a unit devoted to paperwork. Peter sees a rather dull future ahead of him.

But one cold night he’s assigned to perimeter duty, guarding a crime scene in Covent Garden. The unfortunate victim has had his head knocked clean off. A witness appears and tells Peter how the crime was committed. But there’s a problem. The witness, dressed in Victorian clothes, is (and admits to being) a ghost. When a certain Inspector Thomas Nightingale happens by later, Peter tells him, almost as a joke, that he’s been interrogating a ghost. To his surprise, Nightingale listens to him seriously. The next day, instead of going to CPU, Peter finds himself assigned to assist Nightingale, who is the one-man staff of a special (secret) unit devoted to solving supernatural crimes.

Peter moves into the large manor which is Nightingale’s headquarters and begins his apprenticeship in wizardry. They soon find that they’re not dealing with a single crime, but a spectral serial killing spree, in which some unidentified power is possessing ordinary people, changing their appearances, and using them to kill other innocent people, somehow identified by the murderer (who is apparently quite mad) as his personal enemies.

What takes Midnight Riot above the level of most modern fantasies is the narrating voice of Peter Grant, who is at once naïve, cynical, and witty. I enjoyed the narrative, and had a good time reading a well-told story in which the stakes ratchet up rapidly and fearsomely.

Cautions for language and occult themes. Religious matters are studiously avoided, which is all to the good as far as I’m concerned. I’ll be reading more Peter Grant books, at least until the author decides to offend me (which I expect he’ll do before long).