Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch

Foxglove SummerFoxglove Summer

by Ben Aaronovitch
Series: The Rivers of London, #5

Mass Market Paperback, 323 pg.
Daw Books, 2015
Read: January 9 – 10, 2014

“Hail the conquering hero,” said Beverly and held up her bottle to clink.
Sic transit Gloria mundi,” I said, because it was the first thing that came into my head — we clinked and drank. It could have been worse. I could have said, “Valar Morghulis” instead.

It’s always a pleasure to spend some time in the pages of a Peter Grant/The Rivers of London novel, but Foxglove Summer is probably the most pleasurable entry in the series since Midnight Riot (The Rivers of London for non-US types). I’m not sure I can put my finger on why that’s the case, but that’s not something I’m going to worry about. Unlike Peter’s mother, who

never saw a gift horse that she wouldn’t take down to the vet to have its mouth X-rayed — if only so she could establish its resale value.

Two young girls have vanished in a small village slightly north of London, and Peter’s sent to make sure that the (supposedly) no longer active wizard in the area had nothing to do with it. Having done so, he decides to stick around and see if he can help with some of the routine/mundane work needed.

Naturally — well, I should say, Supernaturally, it’s not long before The Powers That Be ask him to see if there’s an angle to the case that’s more up his alley than theirs. Peter finds some undeniable evidence of magic at work and things get going from there.

Nothing against London — but loved this breath of fresh air in this novel. For example, Peter’s dealing with different superior officers to not want to deal with magic/supernatural — these don’t have the antagonism that usually shows up in London, they just don’t want anything to do with it. The town is full of interesting types — including traveling fair ride owners, tavern keepers, farmers, and vacationing journalists.

As always with this series, the sheer amount of British Police acronyms and assumed knowledge of structure and procedures are a hurdle many US readers won’t want to try (I’ve been told this by a few who I’ve tried to get to read these books) — it’s a little effort, and easily worth it to overcome.

My major — only? — gripe is that Peter’s not making a lot of progress with his magic, he seems to be pretty much where he was three novels back. Yes, he’s more confident, yes, he’s able to apply his knowledge of magic with some good old-fashioned police ingenuity — but his abilities and skills are still rookie-level. Without Beverly as magic back-up, he’d be in trouble. The two of them — plus one local cop out of his depth, but committed to work — are able to handle things.

Yeah, it was nice not to focus on Lesley and the Faceless One (which isn’t to say their shadows don’t loom over a good chunk of the book), but it’s clear that they’ll be back in a really big way soon. Which I’m looking forward to, as nice as it was to have this mental palate cleanser here. Foxglove Summer was great mix of police procedural, Urban Fantasy and Folklore — both traditional and contemporary (the area’s obsession with UFOs is great) — with Aaronovitch’s deft humor, pop culture references and tight plotting. We’ve got ourselves a winner here.


4 Stars

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