Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
Publication Date: January 2011
Summary from Goodreads:
Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic
Have you ever read a review, or picked up a book and read the summary and thought, “Hey that sounds like the book for me!” But then when you get a few chapters in you think, “This sounds familiar? Have I read this?” Then a few more chapters and you know for sure that you have. That is what happened to me with this book. I have read a lot of books in my lifetime, and I have kept lists at times, but I was never very good at it. So I probably have forgotten more books than I remember at this point. But even though I realized I had read this one before, I kept going, because I had a vague feeling that I had liked it. And I was not disappointed.
I loved Peter, he is such an engaging character. I loved how smart he was, and how he just wanted to understand how things worked. I loved his experiments with magic and their effects on technology. His views of the world were great too, and he took learning about the hidden magical world in London all in stride.
“You put a spell on the dog,” I said as we left the house.
“Just a small one,” said Nightingale.
“So magic is real,” I said. “Which makes you a…what?”
“Like Harry Potter?”
Nightingale sighed. “No,” he said. “Not like Harry Potter.”
“In what way?”
“I’m not a fictional character,” said Nightingale.”
His interactions with the gods and goddesses of the rivers surrounding London were awesome. I especially liked the sexual tension many of the goddesses created, his reaction to them was always amusing. He did manage to keep his head and not get involved though. His love interest, Leslie, was a slow, snail’s pace, burn and really still hasn’t come to anything by the end of the book.
“Officially she was there to liaise with me on the case, but really she was there for the wide-screen TV, takeaways and the unresolved sexual tension.”
Peter’s insights into policing and how police think was also great and often made me laugh.
“We can’t have your people fighting each other,” I said. The ‘royal we’ is very important in police work; it reminds the person you’re talking to that behind you stands the mighty institution that is the Metropolitan Police, robed in the full majesty of the law and capable, in manpower terms, of invading a small country. You only hope when you’re using that term that the whole edifice is currently facing in the same direction as you are.”
Nightingale was also an engaging and smart character who had a very dry sense of humor which I always appreciate in a person. His patience with Peter as he was learning magic was wonderful. He even tolerated the experiments even if he never completely understood why he needed to do them. They have a solid and wonderful relationship.
The plot was interesting and engaging. It was hard to put the book down sometimes. There were many story lines going at once, the war over the Thames by the river gods and the murder mystery. Lots of history of London in both. Even though the mystery was often dark there was always some humor interjected which helped to keep things even.
I will definitely be picking up the next books in this series. Such engaging and fun characters should not be forgotten, and won’t be by me again.