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Rivers Of London by Ben Aaronvitch

01/05/2011. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Midnight Riot in the USA - or Buy Midnight Riot in the UK

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Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch (US title) pub: Del Rey/Ballantine. 310 page paperback. Price: $ 7.99 (US), $ 8.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-345-52459-1. Rivers Of London by Ben Aaronvitch (UK title) pub: Gollancz. 390 page small hardback. Price: GBP12.99 (UK only). ISBN: 978-0-575-09756-8

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In an ideal world, all policemen would be wizards. There would be an excellent clean-up rate and we might all feel a bit safer. But in the murky world of magic there are not just the law-makers but also the law-breakers.

Peter Grant is surprised to find himself talking to a ghost on a late-night guarding of a crime scene in Covent Garden, London. There has been a particularly gruesome murder but this is just a boring and cold job for the probationary police officer. His fellow officer is just the wrong side of interested in him physically but he lives in hope.

Perhaps destined for a life in police admin, Peter is surprised to be appropriated by a branch of the service he wasn’t aware of, meets the mysterious Nightingale, a policeman with a past and moves to the Folly, a place to learn his craft. Yes, he’s going to be a wizard.

With elements from different genres, including the police procedural, myths, legends and some hocus pocus, this book hits the spot both with character, interest and the plot. I was disappointed when it ended and looking forward to more stories about Peter Grant.

Despite some internal plot machinations, I did not feel manipulated and enjoyed the development of magical technique alongside not only the central plot mystery but also about how Peter finds out about the heritage of the rivers of London. The skilful blend of belief, invention and childhood myths made this stand out. I like the use of the London locations and the additional characters including the mysterious housekeeper, Molly, who has disturbingly sharp teeth. Peter also acquires a dog called Toby and a nodding acquaintance with the cast of character who make up the rivers of London in human form. Altogether a great start to a series which continues with ‘Moon Over Soho’.

Sue Davies

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This book has 75 votes in the sci-fi charts

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