I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
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.
If you haven’t yet met Peter Grant, main character of this series, may I suggest that you find the first book (Rivers of London/Midnight Riot) and make his acquaintance.
This is urban fantasy, but not like the UF that I usually read. Somehow, the magical elements of Aaronovitch’s fiction just melt into the story and don’t stick out like sore thumbs. Peter is primarily a copper and only secondarily an apprentice wizard. And despite the warnings of his wizardly mentor, Nightingale, Peter continues to try to analyze, quantify, and extemporize with his magical abilities.
Speaking of Nightingale, I would definitely like more information on his background! Aaronovitch deals out a few more details in this installment, but I would love more history on him, the Folly (where he & Peter live), and Molly, their creepy live-in caretaker.
Have I mentioned that Peter is funny? That he can wryly explain London and the police force in ways that make me smile every time? Sure, he can be a bit of an asshole from time to time, but really who among us isn’t? He is much gentler with his injured partner, Lesley, than I would have expected from previous books. And his impulsiveness is kept in check by Stephanopoulous and Guleed, not to mention American Kimberley Reynolds. He has many good women in his life!
I also appreciated the many pop culture references—everything from “Holy paranormal activity, Nightingale - to the Jag mobile,” to an inscription on a demon trap written in Tolkien’s Elvish (which incidentally, Peter is nerdy enough to be able to read).
A true pleasure to read. I look forward to the next installment, Broken Homes.