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Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronvitch

1/09/2011. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Moon Over Soho in the USA - or Buy Moon Over Soho in the UK

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pub: Gollancz. 373 page small hardback. Price: GBP12.99 (UK only). ISBN: 978-0-575-09760-5.

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If Harry Potter grew some and grew up he’d probably join the Met. He would eat pizza and watch football, use the Internet and generally get in the way of some nasty magic.

Peter Grant is nothing like Harry Potter. He lives in the real world and works for the police, the Metropolitan force of London that apparently has a sub-division for magic. Having thought he wasn't going to make the grade after training and would be mostly filing for the rest of his career, Peter is surprised to be conscripted by Thomas Nightingale who runs ‘The Folly’ or ESC9 Economic and Specialist Unit 9 to give the official title. Peter now lives at ‘The Folly’ and is an apprentice to Nightingale, who among other things is a very powerful magician and is aging backwards. Peter the trainee wizard makes a heck of a mess but does manage to do some useful police work on occasion.

‘Moon Over Soho’ sees Peter investigating the deaths of several jazz musicians and what they give to their art, sometimes their lives it seems. This is a little bit personal to Peter as his Dad, a famous trumpet player, managed to destroy his own abilities and lost his way twice.

These musicians are the victims of dark magic or as Peter, our black magician’s apprentice, prefers to say there are ‘ethically challenged magical practitioners’ at work here. His quest takes him from London to Oxford. He encounters the famous girls and boys of the Rivers family again who featured in the first book ‘Rivers Of London’. Peter also has to come to terms with how his colleague and friend, Lesley, is dealing with her horrific injuries suffered
Meanwhile, as the plot unwinds and he manages to get a little whoopee time with the lover of one of the deceased musicians and annoy the Rivers family again. There is also the tricky task of carrying on learning his magic craft. This seems to involve the wanton destruction of apples and the occasional mobile phone. It seems magic and modernity don’t mix, which might explain why Harry Potter doesn’t have an iphone like all the hip kids.

Once again, this mixture of police procedural, along with lively wit and a farty dog called Toby made me get to the end of the book and want to start it all over again. Even when I pick it up to refer to it, I get caught up in the narrative which must be a good thing. One of the strong points is the believable dialogue which is never burdened with unnecessary adjectives there are no redundant words which makes it a very tight piece of writing.

This is a great series which has legs and should hopefully run into a TV series. Please. Please Mr. TV producer man. I am beside myself trying to think of an actor who might give this a go. How wonderful if something like this could get green lit on the back of all the Pottermania. Is anyone listening?

Sue Davies

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