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13 May 2011 @ 01:27 am
Book rec  
I have a cold.

Which is entirely my own fault as I spent January to halfway through April not sleeping, then Easter getting wet and cold and then the last couple of weeks hanging out with the parents of toddlers, or as I like to call them, prime virus incubators.

But on the good side, it has given me a chance to catch up on my reading. The Read Everything By Agatha Christie in Random Order Project is now more than 60% complete so I have had to slow things down as it will be a sad finishing (and I have to knock over the romances soon, so I don't find myself with them all at the end). Happily, all those books I ordered for review for my mag and which didn't make it on time for any of my deadlines arrived in one fell swoop, and so I have been immersed in print media.

Which leads me to the point of this post: it is extraordinarily likely that you, yes you, will massively enjoy Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London. Because most of you have vaguely similar taste to mine, and I adore it.

Part Urban Fantasy, part Police Procedural, it starts with a murder, uncovered by Martin Turner, who was innocently making his way home through Covent Garden when he tripped over a headless body.
As Martin noted to the detectives conducting his interview, it was a good thing he'd been inebriated because otherwise he would have wasted time screaming and running about – especially once he realised he was standing in a pool of blood. Instead, with the slow, methodical patience of the drunk and terrified, Martin Turner dialled 999 and asked for the police.

Probationary Police Constable Peter Grant finds himself guarding the scene that night, which is when he sees the ghost. All things considered, it's for the best that he sees the ghost, since Inspector Neblett has Peter (easily distracted, slightly disappointing) slated for a desk job. But a copper who can see the incorporeal is not to be wasted, which is how Peter ends up both a fully fledged Constable and an apprentice wizard, in training, to Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale.

Soon he is knee-deep in a series of inexplicably violent encounters plaguing the London metropolis, at the same time as trying to broker a peace between Mama Thames, who controls the tidal parts of the river, and Father Thames, who hasn't been down to London since the 1850s. And if you think that's odd, wait till you hear about Mama's daughters (Tyburn's a bitch).

Diana Gabaldon has a blurb on the cover saying 'What would happen if Harry Potter grew up and joined the Fuzz.' Which is wrong on multiple levels -- for a start, it's Blaise Zabini joining the Filth. But for everyone who loves Jo Rowling's passion for language and complex, clever worldbuilding, Aaronovitch will be a joy. The characters are appealing and the crimes intriguing, with enough learning the wizarding trade and other magical business to keep fantasy fans satisfied.

Throughout the novel little nuggets of London history and trivia are scattered -- excused textually thanks to Peter's passion for esoteric knowledge -- in a fashion that reminded me of Neil Gaiman, but compared to Gaiman's novels, as this one unwound, I found myself more involved, more enthralled and more entertained (I love Gaiman's cleverness, especially in the Sandman series, but it usually falls apart in more sustained texts.) Aaronovitch's geography is more convincing, too, and his weaving of lore into locale more effective. Though I have to say that I have always found the High Barnet branch of the Northern Line perfectly civilised in reality.

Even if you aren't ready to move on from The Bill as your Platonic ideal of British Police Fantasy, check out the excerpt below the cut and see if the consistent energy and wit of writing can't tempt you into binning Burnside. Best of all, Moon Over Soho, Aaronovitch's second novel, is already out. I have it right here. I have to type this excerpt really, really quickly so I can start reading it! 

It was that thought which, ironically, distracted me enough for Deputy Assistant Commissioner Folsom to be able to sneak up behind me. I turned when he called my name and found him stalking towards me. His conservative suit jacket – pinstripe I saw now that he was close up – had lost a sleeve and all its buttons. He was one of those people whose faces twitch when they're angry; they think they're all icy calm, but something always gives them away. In Folsom's case it was a nasty tic by his left eye.

'Do you know what I hate the most,' he shouted. I could see that he would rather be adopting a sinisterly conversational tone, but unfortunately for him the riot was too loud.

'What's that, sir?' I asked. I could hear the heat from the burning Mini on my back – Folsom had me trapped.

'I hate police constables,' he said. 'Do you know why?'

'Why, sir?' I edged round to my left, trying to open an escape path.

'Because you never stop moaning,' said Folsom. 'I joined up in 1982, the good old days. before the PACE, before Macpherson and quality-control targets. And you know what? We were shit. We thought we were doing well in an investigation if we arrested anybody at all, let alone the perpetrator. We got the shit kicked out of us from Brixton to Tottenham and fuck me, were we bent? We weren't even that expensive! We'd let some scrote go for two pints of lager and a packet of crisps.' He paused, and for a moment a look of puzzlement crossed his face, then his eyes fixed back on me and the left one twitched.


I feinted at him to back him up and then darted to my right, away from the burning car and the rest of the riot. It didn't work. Folsom didn't back up, and as I went past he gave me a backhander that was like being slapped by a floorboard. It knocked me right back on my arse and I found myself staring up at a seriously enraged senior officer looking to give me a good kicking at the very least. He'd just managed to land one of his size tens on my thigh – I ended up with a purple heel-shaped bruise for a month – when someone clubbed him down from behind.

It was Inspector Neblett, still dressed in his impractical uniform tunic but carrying an honest-to-God wooden riot truncheon of the kind phased out in the 1980s for being slightly more lethal than a pickaxe handle.

'Grant,' he said. 'What the hell is going on?'

I scrambled over to where Folsom lay face down on the pavement. 'There's been an irretrievable breakdown in public order,' I said, while tugging Folsom into the recovery position. My head was still ringing from his backhander, so I wasn't that gentle.

'Oh my God,' said Neblett, squatting down for a closer look. 'This is Deputy Assistant Commissioner Folsom.'

Our eyes met across the twitching form of our senior officer.

'He didn't see you, sir,' I said. 'If you call an ambulance we can have him off the scene before he regains consciousness. There was a riot, he was attacked, you rescued him.'

'And your role in this?'

'Reliable witness, sir,' I said. 'As to your timely intervention.'

Inspector Neblett gave me a hard look. 'I was wrong about you, Grant,' he said. 'You do have the makings of a proper copper.'

Rivers of London, pages 275-277, lightly edited
(Deleted comment)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on May 12th, 2011 11:21 pm (UTC)
It just never stopped being good! A few typos that I would love to get in and fix, but most of them are just things like missed speech quotes, so all bearable. Great for a lazy summer or freezing autumn read, I say. And good luck with all your busy, darling!
Emmaemmacmf on May 12th, 2011 06:04 pm (UTC)
You've convinced me! *goes to order*
Emmaemmacmf on May 12th, 2011 06:20 pm (UTC)
Ordered this and the second book in the series - I trust you that much!
(no subject) - emmacmf on May 24th, 2011 07:58 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on May 25th, 2011 02:58 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on May 12th, 2011 11:19 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Shivshiv5468 on May 12th, 2011 06:27 pm (UTC)
I've been telling people about this book since I got it.

It's the book I would have written if my co-writer hadn't turned out to be a complete cow
blamebramptonblamebrampton on May 12th, 2011 11:01 pm (UTC)
You and ravurian both mentioned you were reading it, which brought it to the top of the stack for me!
jennfic on May 12th, 2011 07:20 pm (UTC)
A word to your US correspondents (and p'raps the Canadians as well) -- Rivers of London is apparently called Midnight Riot in the US. And the cover art is horrid. *is displeased*
blamebramptonblamebrampton on May 12th, 2011 11:28 pm (UTC)
Oh now that is just SILLY! (And the riot only takes up a few pages.) They're going to twig to it being English on the first page, and most Americans can cope with that! (The ones who can't are too busy trying to bring down the government to read, anyway.)
(no subject) - jadzialove on May 13th, 2011 01:54 am (UTC) (Expand)
Pureblood Princessraitala on May 12th, 2011 09:49 pm (UTC)
Totally sold! I ordered it immediately :)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on May 12th, 2011 11:31 pm (UTC)
Hurrah! You will love it in particular as much of it is covering 'your patch', as the rozzers say (note my seamless copper lingo ;-))
jolinar_roshajolinar_rosha on May 12th, 2011 10:10 pm (UTC)
ooh sounds really good! I think I'll give it a try once I'm done with the monster of a fantasy book I'm currently reading! :)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on May 12th, 2011 11:32 pm (UTC)
I began loving it on page one and did not stop until the end, which is always a good sign!
lyraslyras on May 12th, 2011 11:00 pm (UTC)
Ooh, I nearly bought that book in Galaxy at the weekend. *adds to to-read list*
blamebramptonblamebrampton on May 12th, 2011 11:32 pm (UTC)
Good old Galaxy! Yes, do pick it up, I think you will really enjoy it.
Corinnaelissande on May 13th, 2011 01:35 am (UTC)
Ooh! That sounds intriguing. Will instigate search immediately!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on May 25th, 2011 02:59 pm (UTC)
Mr B is loving them, too, so it's not just a London love affair thing :-)
Dedicated Escape Artist: Escapejadzialove on May 13th, 2011 02:01 am (UTC)
You had me at the first snippet. Someday I'll be able to buy it them.

Hope you feel better. Have some vitamins or something -- these colds have got your number!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on May 25th, 2011 03:00 pm (UTC)
I've loaned my copied out but will be getting them back, I can send them over to you if you can send them back!

And I have much improved, but have gone from ill to frantic. LIFE, I ask you ... (goes back to writing Fathers!)
(no subject) - jadzialove on May 26th, 2011 01:39 am (UTC) (Expand)
down the hills and round the bendsnorton_gale on May 13th, 2011 03:40 am (UTC)
I loved this book too! (Also enjoyed the many Harry Potter references.) The second one is good too, though there are a few loose ends that are never satisfactorily tied up - I don't want to spoil you so I won't say anything more. Looking forward to the third!
blamebramptonblamebrampton on May 25th, 2011 03:03 pm (UTC)
Voldemort! BWAHAHAHAHA! Yeah, the second was a little bit less splendid, but I think it was probably written a bit more quickly to hit publishing deadlines. I still enjoyed it immensely, though, and didn't mind the loose ends -- story arcs!

ALSO, a box arrived this morning! I LOVE IT! Thank you, darling, gorgeous and giggleworthy treasures -- I can't wait to read someone's Fantod!
Fanartist in trainingkath_ballantyne on May 13th, 2011 06:55 am (UTC)
Ohhh. Sounds wonderful.
Just the sort of thing we love. Might try and find it in one of the local libraries until we can afford to buy books again.
blamebramptonblamebrampton on May 13th, 2011 08:15 am (UTC)
If you can wait a few weeks until Mr B has read them, I can post my copies up and you can send them back when you two are done.
(no subject) - kath_ballantyne on May 14th, 2011 03:51 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on May 25th, 2011 03:04 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - kath_ballantyne on May 25th, 2011 03:19 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - blamebrampton on May 25th, 2011 03:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
shu_shu_sleepsshu_shu_sleeps on May 13th, 2011 06:57 am (UTC)
You had me at
"Instead, with the slow, methodical patience of the drunk and terrified, Martin Turner dialled 999 and asked for the police."

I could even HEAR you reading it!

I shall definitely add it and the second book to the list of things to read when I get my life back (ie post PLT)... :)

Hope your cold improves soon.

blamebramptonblamebrampton on May 13th, 2011 08:16 am (UTC)
That was the line he had me at, too ;-)

I will have both of them when you have time. If required, I can do a reading while you contain a goodly sum of G&T and healthy snacks ;-)
(no subject) - shu_shu_sleeps on May 13th, 2011 10:12 am (UTC) (Expand)
auntpurl: I love booksauntpurl on May 13th, 2011 09:36 am (UTC)
Dude! I have picked Rivers of London up at the bookstore TWICE now! I'm going to get it! Thanks for the thorough reccage - I know now that I'll like it. :)

Love you! Xoxo
blamebramptonblamebrampton on May 25th, 2011 03:06 pm (UTC)
Love you, too! And yes, you will love it. A lot of it is set on your manor, as they would say (NB the tragic attempts at Bill-speak.)
Klara: Library - paradise (Books)mummimamma on May 13th, 2011 05:42 pm (UTC)
Seems interesting! Hopefully I will encounter a bookshop that stocks it, and since I going to London chances are I will :)
blamebramptonblamebrampton on May 25th, 2011 03:07 pm (UTC)
YAY! Hope you have a fab trip.
Goss: * ! - oh!gossymer on May 13th, 2011 10:42 pm (UTC)
Rivers of London was definitely great :D Still have to read Moon Over Soho though and I've noticed a trend where I get my hands on sequels asap (like Kate Griffin's Neon Court) and then end up procrastinating since I have this fear that the books will fall short of their predecessors...
blamebramptonblamebrampton on May 25th, 2011 03:12 pm (UTC)
It was very slightly less brilliantly written, but it told a good complex story that gave openings to longer story arcs that will drive the next books. I thoroughly enjoyed it!