Rivers of London: Body Work by Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel, Lee Sullivan

Body WorkRivers of London: Body Work

by Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel, Lee Sullivan (Artist)
Series: Rivers of London Comics, #1

Trade Paperback, 128 pg.
Titan Comics, 2016

Read: April 30, 2016


The Folly — Peter Grant and his boss, Inspector Nightingale — make their way to comics in this collection from Titan Comics. The two are facing a threat right out of a Stephen King novel: a homicidal car.

There’s more to it, of course, but that’s it in essence.

The story was entertaining, and fully captured the feel of the novels (easier with the writer of the books writing these). This seemed slight — a bit too brief. But it wasn’t — maybe it just flowed so smoothly I didn’t notice. Maybe there wasn’t that much of a story, I’m not sure. I’m willing to give Aaronovitch and the rest the benefit of the doubt.

The best part of this collection is that it solidified my mental image of Grant, clarified my idea of Molly, and reshaped/corrected my idea of Nightingale. The art wasn’t dazzling, but it was good.

It didn’t blow me away, but it scratched the Peter Grant itch and made me want to read more. If I sound like I’m not totally sold on this, it’s because I probably wasn’t, but I’m glad I read it and should be reading the next collection in a month or so — so there’s that.

—–

3 Stars

Midnight Riot (Audiobook) by Ben Aaronovitch, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith

Midnight Riot (Audiobook) Midnight Riot

by Ben Aaronovitch, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (Narrator)
Series: The Rivers of London, #1

Unabridged Audiobook, 9 hrs., 57 min.
Tantor Media, 2012
Read: October 11 – 14, 2016


The best part about listening to this was being reminded just how good this novel was — sure, I remember liking it a lot (if for no other reason than I’ve read five more plus a collection of comics), but I didn’t remember it being this good.

Briefly — in this we’re introduced to a probationary constable named Peter Grant who’s approached by an odd witness to an odder (and disturbing) murder. What makes the witness odd? Well, he’s been dead for a couple of centuries. Soon thereafter, Peter’s meets a Chief Inspector who happens to be the last wizard in England. Peter’s transferred to his unit (doubling the size), taken on as an apprentice and thrust into a type of policing he wouldn’t have believed existed a week ago.

The investigation into this murder turns into an investigation for several murders — and a few other assorted crimes. Which, of course, involves diving into the history of London and brokering peace between competing river deities. That old yarn. It’s a great mix of magic and police work, basic Latin and advanced bureaucracy.

Holdbrook-Smith did a fine job with the narration, very engaging, often compelling — capturing the feel of the novel in just the way that everyone wants in an audiobook. I’d be more than happy to hear more from him.

It’s dark, it’s funny, it’s pretty complex — and, in retrospect, — does a much better job laying the foundation for the series than I’d remembered. A good amount of wonder and action combined.

—–

4 Stars

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

Review Catch Up: Broken Homes; Black Arts; The Player; Speaking from Among the Bones

I’ve got a backlog of 50 or so reviews I’ve been meaning to write — some of them, I just have to admit aren’t going to get done. But I’m going to try my level best. The four books I’ve decided to tackle in one fell swoop are books I enjoyed, from series I enjoy, and yet I’ve had trouble reviewing them. In the end, I decided that was because by and large, I don’t have anything to say about these books that I haven’t said about others in the series.

But I do want 1. clear these off my to-do list and 2. more importantly, encourage readers to give these a look. So, without further ado:

Broken Homes (Peter Grant, #4)Broken Homes

by Ben Aaronovitch
Series: The Rivers of London, #4

Mass Market Paperback, 324 pg.
DAW, 2014
Read: February 15, 2014

The plot took its own sweet time getting where it was going, with a lot of strange little turns here and there — which works because it’s probably what actual policemen go through investigating a crime. But almost doesn’t work because it makes it feel like Aaronovitch didn’t pace this correctly (which is silly, because he did).

I really, really liked the undercover stuff. The conclusion is probably the best that this series has been. It’d be great if Peter learned a bit more though, his stumbling efforts are amusing, but it’s time for more proficiency.

I’m eager for the next one of these (and would be even without the big twist) — such a great world he’s created here, and I want to learn more about it and the characters that inhabit it.
4 Stars

—–

Black Arts (Jane Yellowrock, #7)Black Arts

by Faith Hunter
Series: Jane Yellowrock, #7
Mass Market Paperback, 325 pg.
Roc, 2014
Read: March 25 – 29, 2014

What’s to say about this one, that I haven’t said about other books in the series already?

The action’s tight, the vamp politics and Jane’s interaction with it are pretty interesting, Faith’s coming to grips with more of her background was really compelling, and her growing relationship with the brothers is fun.

Obviously, this is the most personal case that Jane’s had yet — for someone to be messing around with Molly, that’s just beyond the pale. Those raised stakes (pun fully intended), and the ongoing drama with Leo’s grip on the New Orleans vampires made this the best of the series.
4 Stars

—–

The Player: A Mystery (Carter Ross, #5)The Player

by Brad Parks
Series: Carter Ross, #5

Hardcover, 336 pg.
Minotaur Books, 2014
Read: April 1 – 4, 2014

What’s to say about this one, that I haven’t said about other books in the series already?

A lot of fun — great characters, love Carter’s voice, everything that you want to see in a Carter Ross novel was here — twisty conspiracy, some good laughs, Carter’s personal life in shambles. It was nice to meet his family.

Sadly, I’m at a loss for words here (something that never seems to be Carter’s problem), this was a lot of fun. I want a lot more of these.
4 Stars

—–

Speaking from Among the Bones (Flavia de Luce, #5 )Speaking from Among the Bones

by Alan Bradley

Hardcover, 372 pg.
Delacorte Press, 2013
May 16 – 14, 2014

Flavia’s her typical charming, precocious, incorrigible self. Perhaps a bit more clever than we’ve seen her before, definitely with less a sense of self-preservation than we’ve seen previously. Her sisters are a bit, more human? Or maybe Flavia’s portraying them more honestly/more sympathetically. The financial pressures her father’s under are more and more pressing, causing everyone to be a bit more realistic, it seems.

Still, that doesn’t deter Flavia from doing her thing when a body is discovered. It’s everything you want in a Flavia de Luce novel — very, very smart conclusion to this mystery.
3 Stars

Dusted Off: Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch

Midnight Riot (Peter Grant, #1)Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch
Series: The Rivers of London, #1

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In a very real sense, there’s practically nothing new in this book–neophyte wizard just discovering a world of magic; super-secret police division tasked with investigating (and covering up) supernatural crimes; a whole world of ghosts, vamps, trolls, dryads, nymphs, demigods living unseen amongst mortals; clever (and funny) pop culture references littered throughout the text; and so on…Urban Fantasy 101.

BUT, there’s something about the way that Aaronovitch writes that makes Midnight Riot so fresh, so entertaining, so fun, it feels like I’m reading a brand new genre. He’s basically the British Anton Strout (but a tad bit funnier).

I had a blast reading this–every second of it–laughed out loud, sat on the edge of my seat, and tore through this book.