Author: Ben Aaronovitch
Publication Date: 3/1/11
Publisher: Random House
Blurb(GR): The song. That’s what London constable and sorcerer’s apprentice Peter Grant first notices when he examines the corpse of Cyrus Wilkins, part-time jazz drummer and full-time accountant, who dropped dead of a heart attack while playing a gig at Soho’s 606 Club. The notes of the old jazz standard are rising from the body—a sure sign that something about the man’s death was not at all natural but instead supernatural.
Body and soul—they’re also what Peter will risk as he investigates a pattern of similar deaths in and around Soho. With the help of his superior officer, Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, the last registered wizard in England, and the assistance of beautiful jazz aficionado Simone Fitzwilliam, Peter will uncover a deadly magical menace—one that leads right to his own doorstep and to the squandered promise of a young jazz musician: a talented trumpet player named Richard “Lord” Grant—otherwise known as Peter’s dear old dad.
Whenever I contemplate continuing a series that I love, there’s always that little bit of anxiety in the back of my mind: will this one live up to the rest? Will I have to abandon yet another series? Well, if any of you out there are worried about this one, be at ease. This installment is lovely and I have no doubt that fans of the first book will enjoy this one just as much.
At the end of Midnight Riot (aka, Rivers of London), Peter had just learned of a rather ferocious new murder. In this installment, he is on the trail of that particularly incisive (har har) killer as well as a black ethically challenged magician and a ravenous jazz vampire. Along the way, we are treated to interesting glimpses of Peter’s parents as well as the mysteriously ancient Thomas Nightingale.
The villains, crimes, and continuing mysteries still feel hazy to me. There's an attempt to force all three mysteries to magically come together and it doesn't quite coalesce. However, in the end, I found it hard to care. I enjoy these stories for their dry and witty humor, for the unique blend of science geekery and magic, and for the completely wonderful MC. If the solution to the mystery feels a little forced, or the villains feel a little flat, I am willing to let that slide because everything else is so enjoyable.
The main character feels so authentically young, and I don’t just mean because he loves his Playstation, and can’t help but act like a complete idiot when it comes to romance. He’s very youthfully idealistic and hopeful, while at the same time bringing a fresh, inventive mind to the stuffy old world of magic. Once again, I loved his ingenuity, clever scientific analyses, and silly nerd jokes.
There’s only one part of this book that I didn’t quite enjoy. I think that you know what I’m talking about, Peter. I see you hanging your head right now, and you should! For shame, Peter. FOR SHAME. Even I could see that she was a complete slag* from fifty paces away, and not even in an ironic, postmodernist way. You’d better make this up to me Leslie.
*A fun word that I picked up recently. Another fun word that I learned from this book: flannel, which seems to be similar to the American baloney. I’ll have to stick with my kinsmen on this one though, because flannel? Not only is it comfortable, durable, and let’s face it, sexy; it’s the perfect winter time fashion statement. Whereas, baloney? Serves no real purpose on Earth.
Also, if any of my fellow ignorant Americans are wondering what a Scouse accent is (like I did) then check out this mini-documentary: scouse accent.
Perfect Musical Pairing
Kate Nash – We Get On
What? No…of course that wasn’t me the other night at the folly. Telephoto lens? Seriously, I don’t even know how to work a remote control…much less a sophisticated piece of surveillance equipment.
What, these? These are just some…photos…that I…found…in the gutter…the other day. I came to see you as soon as I found them, obviously. You really need to be more careful. This world is a crazy place…*shaky laugh*