Author: Ben Aaronovitch
Publication Date: 7/31/12
Publisher: Del Rey
Blurb(GR): A WHOLE NEW REASON TO MIND THE GAP
It begins with a dead body at the far end of Baker Street tube station, all that remains of American exchange student James Gallagher—and the victim’s wealthy, politically powerful family is understandably eager to get to the bottom of the gruesome murder. The trouble is, the bottom—if it exists at all—is deeper and more unnatural than anyone suspects . . . except, that is, for London constable and sorcerer’s apprentice Peter Grant. With Inspector Nightingale, the last registered wizard in England, tied up in the hunt for the rogue magician known as “the Faceless Man,” it’s up to Peter to plumb the haunted depths of the oldest, largest, and—as of now—deadliest subway system in the world.
At least he won’t be alone. No, the FBI has sent over a crack agent to help. She’s young, ambitious, beautiful . . . and a born-again Christian apt to view any magic as the work of the devil. Oh yeah--that’s going to go well.
Oh, these books are just so much fun. I doubt I will ever stop reading them. The mysteries confuse me (and are mostly forgettable), I still don’t really understand how the magic works (and neither does the main character), and I really have no idea where this is all going. But I enjoy every minute of these books and most of all, this character.
What a witty, likable, self-deprecating, fully-realized character Ben Aaronovitch has created here. I could spend hours just reading his random asides about tedious police procedure or his commentary on the people/geography of London:
“For decades, Notting Hill has been fighting a valiant rearguard action against the rising tide of money creeping in now that Mayfair has given over entirely to the oligarchs. I could see that whoever had done the conversion on the mews adopted the spirit of the place, because nothing says ‘I’m a part of a vibrant local community’ quite like sticking a bloody great security gate at the entrance to your street. Guleed, Carey, and I stared through the bars like Victorian children.”
Do you see what I mean? If you find the above even the least bit funny, then I think you should give these a go. This one starts off with a mysterious murder-by-potsherd in an underground train station, travels through the frou-frou art world, and ends hilariously in a romp through the London sewers – which was one of the funniest things I’ve read all year.
Lesley is back in action in this one, which I was very happy about (no more crazy flings with slags, Peter – do you hear me?!!). There’s some minor advancement in the romance department, but nothing huge. These books aren’t really about the romance. I really love the dynamic between Peter and Lesley as partners though:
“’There’s always a secret door,’ I said. ‘That’s why you always need a thief in your party.’
‘You never said you used to play Dungeons and Dragons,’ Lesley had said, when I explained my reasoning. I’d been tempted to tell her that I was thirteen at the time, and anyway it was Call of Cthulthu, but I’ve learned from bitter experience that such remarks generally only make things worse.”
There’s also a new side character in this one, in the shape of an American FBI agent. Now, I admit that I was more than a bit excited when she was first introduced. If Peter’s going to have crazy flings with slags, they can at least be American slags. My mind filled with dreamy visions of Peter waxing poetic about how sexy the American accent is…how gorgeous American women all are…how strong, courageous, and noble…. Yeah, my imagination may or may not have run away with me on that one, but in my defense I’m like two shades away from being a desperate housewife (those two shades being wealth and plastic surgery).
So imagine my disappointment when Ms. American FBI turned out to be an uptight, trigger-happy religious nut. Look, Peter, I know how we are over here. I know that that particular shoe fits more times than it doesn’t…but it still hurts, okay? The truth can hurt. *sob* Would it have killed you to at least comment on the accent? You gotta admit that it’s sexy…all those hard r’s. Rrrrr.
I could be wrong but I think that maybe this series is heading in the direction of assembling a magical team of characters who will be featured in all the books. If that’s the case, I am very excited! I love magical crime-fighting ensemble casts. I should also mention that this entire story takes place over the Christmas holidays and features blissfully cold weather and snow storms. I truly can’t think of a better read to escape from the stress and heat of this summer.
Perfect Musical Pairing
En Vogue – Giving Him Something He Can Feel
I challenge you to watch this video and not fall immediately in lust with America. We’re not all uptight over here. Also, I saw these ladies strut their stuff a few years ago and they’ve still got it. Which I think is pretty solid evidence that American women maintain their allure well into their thirties and forties. Just sayin’.