Audio from The Severed Streets by Paul Cornell

Recently, I received an email from someone at Audible.com:

I saw your great review of THE SEVERED STREETS and I wanted to make sure that you are aware that the book is also available as an audiobook from Audible Studios. I’d love to offer you a clip from the audiobook to post on the website alongside the review as multimedia content for your readers.

Seems like a good idea to me! I wasn’t aware that they had the book — but if asked, I’d have guessed they did — what don’t they have? Still, it sounds like a good idea (and hey, she called my review “great”). I added it to my review, but thought I’d throw it up, here, too. Seems more likely that people would see it.

The Severed Streets was one of my favorite books last year (see my review, and my 2014 Honorable Mentions), and I’d strongly recommend you trying it.

Anyway, here’s the clip, sounds pretty good to me. If you’re an audiobook person, listen to the sample. If you’re not an audiobook person, you still might want to give it a try — maybe you’re an audiobook person but don’t know it.

The Severed Streets by Paul Cornell (Updated)

Update: A representative of Audible.com, emailed me to ask if I’d like to post a clip from the audio book with this review. Sounded like a good idea to me (no pun intended). The sample’s at the bottom of this post, give it a listen.

The Severed StreetsThe Severed Streets

by Paul Cornell

Hardcover, 416 pg.
Tor Books, 2014
Read: June 11 – 14, 2014

This Cornell guy can write.

I’m tempted to let that be all I say about this book. Won’t be (because I can’t help myself), but it’s tempting. The other thing I’m tempted to do is copy and paste the first three paragraphs of my London Falling review to start this one — I am a little annoyed to see that I spoke so much about the Bryant & May Peculiar Crimes Unit series last time, because the comparison really hit me repeatedly as I read this book. I hope neither Cornell or Fowler mind that comparison.

Straightaway, Cornell creates a world rich with atmosphere — the his depiction of the tension on the streets of London is visceral, and then when the first murder occurs, you start to wish for something a little less visceral. And that’s in the first handful of pages. Once the focus turns to the team of detectives, it takes almost no time at all to immerse yourself again in this world (one that I honestly was a little fuzzy on when I picked up the book, remembering everything about these characters took a page or two back with them). There’s a bit more esprit de corps amongst them now then when we left them in London Falling, they’ve spent more time together, are more familiar with each other — and, if nothing else, realize that they share something that no one else in the London Police does.

Now they’ve got their hands full, seeking a vicious killer that only they can see. One that seems to have connections to a popular protest movement (think the Occupy movement, but with masks) and maybe to Jack the Ripper. Add all those things together, and you’ve got yourself a real mess. To that, add multiple conflicting goals on the part of Quill and his team, a looming police strike, an overly-inquisitive media mogul, a meddling Security Service, and a city on the verge of riot — and you’ve got, well, I don’t know exactly what it is, but the word “mess” no longer can describe it.

This early in a series, I don’t have any strong emotional connection to characters — particularly in this series, which (to me) seems to lend itself to a distancing between reader and character. But when one of the team makes an unthinkable sacrifice, I realized that distance didn’t exist anymore for me, and I had to put the book down for a brief moment to think about what I’d just read. But I couldn’t keep it down for long and had to pick it up quickly — only to be hit with something worse not that long after.

Which is not to say that this whole novel is an emotional wringer, there’s more humor, more hope intrinsic to this book than its predecessor, while it doesn’t lose any of it’s edge. The celebrity cameo was hilarious in a book not typified by hilarity of any kind. And then it became more than a cameo, which was pretty cool — and then it became, brilliant. I mean, truly brilliant. And I really can’t say more about it than that without violating all sorts of my spoiler policies.

I want to say more about this book, and maybe I’ll come back and revise this later, but for now I’d better leave it at this or it’ll never get done. The Severed Streets is one of those books that will make you want to cancel plans, so you can spend more time with it. From the unnervingly impossible assassination at the beginning to the truly disturbing final sentence, and almost every point in between, this is a killer book — gripping, suspenseful, with no punches pulled on any level. Please let there be more of these soon.

—–

4 1/2 Stars

London Falling by Paul Cornell

Spent the last hour or so of my shift this morning writing/researching/tweaking a paragraph or two in between my chores for this review. This afternoon, I read what I’d labored over and realized the entire premise is bunk, and needed be round-filed promptly (despite really liking everything I’d written). Lesson for the day: don’t read, just post.

—–

London FallingLondon Falling by Paul Cornell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is not your typical Urban Fantasy. Nor is this your typical Police Procedural. Lastly, this is not your typical UF/Procedural mash-up (see: Diana Rowland‘s Kara Gillian series, or Ben Aaronovitch‘s Peter Grant series). Instead, this is the wow-inducing freak show of a lovechild of Christopher Fowler‘s Bryant & May Peculiar Crimes Unit procedural and Mike Carey‘s Felix Castor UF books.

These series share a certain subdued wit, a cynicism tinged with hope, and a certain amount of a-typical characters for their respective genres. But more importantly for this comparison, they share a richness, appreciation for, and dependence upon London’s geography, culture and history (particularly the bits that few people know about, which are rife for use/manipulation in fiction). If that doesn’t sum up Cornell’s work, I’ll eat a Union Jack emblazoned hat.

Oh, also, the more I read of Bryant & May, the less I understand the London Police Force’s organization and slang (which any number of British TV police shows and other novels convince me I’m pretty familiar with). Cornell outdoes Fowler on that score. Sure, there’s a glossary at the end of this book, but that’s not advertised anywhere, and I didn’t realize it until it was too late. But sussing all that out is part of the charm of these books — I appreciate how little they feel compelled to hold the audience’s hand a little more than I’m frustrated at the extra work.

Enough preamble. What starts off as the ill-advised attempt to wrap up a major undercover operation (based more on economics than police work) turns into a child serial killer case that ends up captivating and frightening the residents of London while a band of four policemen (one of which is technically a civilian aide — or maybe she’s a different type of officer, but I don’t think so, see previous paragraph) track the killer that has the rest of the force completely befuddled. These four spend as much time battling their own demons — within and without, metaphorical and otherwise — as they do working the cases. Oh, and you can forget about any real esprit de corps amongst these four, just to complicate matters further.

The major reason for the befuddlement of the rest of the force is that the killer is using all sorts of magic — in truly horrific ways, for even more horrific reasons, and only our four heroes (for lack of a better word) can see that. These four didn’t start the novel being able to see magic, and spend a good deal of time trying to figure out what’s going on with their eyes and ears now — and not in a fun montage-y way the way they do in Spider-Man movies. Theirs is a real baptism by fire, learning as they work desperately to save children and footballers both from being the killer’s next victims.

Yes, I said children and footballers. Just roll with it.

In the wrong hands, this could be the makings of a mess. Cornell doesn’t play any of this for laughs, or lighter moments — there is practically no joy to be found in this grim novel of a grimmer world of miserable people. But his are the right hands, and Cornell handles all these bits and pieces like a seasoned pro and deftly shapes them in to a kiester-kicking read.

Highly recommended.