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Monday, 29 July 2013

Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch

I left it far too long between reading the promising first installment in the Rivers Of London series and picking up this second book. But after giving away a copy as part of the Literary Giveaway Blog Hop, and then meeting Ben Aaronovitch at the Newbooks magazine Readers' Day last month (he is a great speaker, really, really funny) I thought it was high time I got on with Moon Over Soho. And I am very happy that I did!

Last time we met Peter Grant he was finding his feet in his new role as apprentice magician to the Met. He had played a big part in shelving his first case and had just about got to grips with how to follow clues left by magical 'vestigia'. Now London is a city that never sleeps, so things haven't let up at all for Peter as we begin book two. If anything, his workload has increased. Someone - or something - has been doing the rounds of the city's nightspots, seducing unsuspecting victims and having a good chomp on the most delicate parts of their anatomy. And at the same time, something is amiss within the city's jazz scene. Several jazz musicians have met an untimely demise in suspicious circumstances and it seems like magic might have had a part to play in their deaths. Unfortunately the big boss, Nightingale, is on extended sick leave, so Peter is essentially left to keep things ticking over single-handedly at The Folly.

On reading Rivers Of London I was bowled over by the author's world-building. I loved the characters and found the dry humour irresistible. The main reservation I had was that the plot felt a bit vague and meandering, and didn't grab me as much as I had hoped. I am delighted to say that I found Moon Over Soho much more satisfying in this regard. The mystery/crime-solving element is solid and I was gripped from the start.

I liked Peter Grant already, but even more so after reading Moon Over Soho. He's a really strong and engaging protagonist and I can't see myself tiring of him any time soon - I can imagine this series will run and run. Sure, he has his moments of idiocy and a fondness for a pretty face that often clouds his professional judgment, but at the same time he shows real skill and intelligence. I love reading about his thought processes and the experiments he conducts to attempt to understand how magic works. A quibble I've often had when reading other fantasy books with a contemporary setting is that I find it irritating when a character is confronted by something extraordinary or supernatural and swiftly accepts it without question. Peter uses magic on a daily basis but retains an acute awareness that his situation is incredibly bizarre, and is always trying to find a scientific basis for the paranormal phenomena he observes.

It's a delight to read, chock-full of genuine laughs and great one-liners. I have been tentatively increasing my Kindle reading lately, and while I'm not a fan of the 'popular highlights' function it was very interesting to note the significant number of highlighted passages in Moon Over Soho compared to any other book I've encountered. It's very quotable:

"For a terrifying moment I thought he was going to hug me, but fortunately we both remembered we were English just in time. Still, it was a close call."

"It’s a truism in policing that witnesses and statements are fine, but nothing beats empirical physical evidence. Actually it isn’t a truism because most policemen think the word ‘empirical’ is something to do with Darth Vader, but it damn well should be."

I have Whispers Underground lined up to be read very soon, and this time I don't think I will be leaving it quite so long to catch up with events at The Folly. And if you're one step ahead of me, the fourth book in the series, Broken Homes, is available to buy in the UK since last week!


7 comments:

  1. I have Rivers of London on Kindle but I keep on forgetting about it. It's difficult when you can't see them on physical shelf! Sounds like a series I'd really enjoy.

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    1. I think that's right - it's so easy to neglect the Kindle TBR when they aren't on full view with enticing covers!

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  2. I also have this book waiting to be read and genuinely don't know why I've delayed it so much! I enjoyed the first book. I think I'm just going to have to pull my socks up and catch up!
    Lynn :D

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    1. I hope you get around to it sooner rather than later, it's even better than the first one!

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  3. I am glad you liked book #2 in the series so much. I haven't got a copy yet, although I did find a copy of book #3. If I cannot read this one before 2014, I will read it very early in January.

    One of the many things I loved about Rivers of London was all the one liners and quotes. I am so looking forward to this.

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    1. I hope you manage to track down a copy soon! It's even more full of great lines than the first book. You'll love it.

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  4. I loved Rivers of London, and must carry on with this series very soon. Glad the second book is taughter plotwise, but the first had a lot of setting up to do. Looking forward to it.

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