Author(s): Ben Aaronovitch
Peter Grant was just a probationary constable in the Metropolitan Police Service when one night, in pursuance of a murder inquiry, he tried to take a witness statement from someone who was dead but disturbingly voluble, thus bringing him to the attention of Inspector Nightingale, the last wizard in England. Now Peter is a Detective Constable and a trainee wizard, the first apprentice in fifty years and his world has become somewhat more complicated: nests of vampires in Purley, negotiating a truce between the warring god and goddess of the Thames, digging up graves in Covent Garden and there's something festering at the heart of London, a malicious vengeful spirit that takes ordinary Londoners and twists them into grotesque mannequins to act out its drama of violence and despair. The spirit of riot and rebellion has awakened in the city and it falls to Peter to bring order out of chaos - or die trying.
I was recently introduced to Ben Aaronovich and this month have devoured Rivers of London, Moon Over Soho and Whispers Under Ground - quite difficult to define but probably the best but flawed description is ‘supernatural crime’. They are all set in London with great characters, from the Lords and Ladies of the Thames, to the refined Detective Nightingale, the intriguing Dr Abdul Haqq Walid and the bizarre housekeeper Molly. As all good detective stories do, this series starts with a murder, however, unlike most criminal investigations, the key witness is a ghost. The intrepid Constable Peter Grant takes the statement and thus begins a life of fighting supernatural crime in London. He is soon initiated into the special secret department of the London Police that specialises in such crime and boosts its staffing to two. I recently recommended these to my father-in-law in England and this was his comment: “Fast and pacey but with an assured touch, it is beautifully written, with a totally familiar setting (being a Londoner) and yet completely and unexpectedly different (not your average fantasy magic story!). Wonderfully entertaining and extraordinary.” - which sums up the ‘Rivers of London’ series perfectly. - Sarah
I've been having a lot of fun reading the ‘Rivers of London’ series by Ben Aaronovitch. Peter Grant is a newly minted PC in central London who, after taking a witness statement from a ghost, discovers a world of magic hidden in plain sight. As an apprentice wizard to an ageless Master, Grant has to track down a brutal (and dead) killer bent on revenge. I was slightly hesitant picking up Rivers of London (the first book) as I am not a great fan of humorous or silly fantasy writing, but this is very clever, sarcastic, witty and loads of fun. Grant is not a policeman's Harry Potter at all. Anyone who has spent time in central London will spend the whole book feeling like they're there again. - Lucy
Ben Aaronovitch's 'Rivers of London' series would have to be my literary discovery of 2014. There are currently 5 books in the series, following PC Peter Grant, newly apprenticed to the last official registered wizard in England. Grant and his boss Nightingale are responsible for policing the activities of the supernatural residents of London. The Gods and Goddesses of the Rivers, the fae, goblins, Quiet People, unicorns and Changelings as well unsavoury human magical practitioners and other otherworldly creatures all fall under the protection and are subject to the authority of the "Isaacs" (as in Newton). The books perfectly straddle a line between comedic fantasy and police procedural, and will find a place of honour on our bookshelves between Pratchett and Tolkien, which I suspect Aaronovitch would approve of. - Lucy
CSI London, Urban Fantasy-style!
Shortlisted for Galaxy National Book Awards: Galaxy New Writer of the Year 2011.
Ben Aaronovitch was born and raised in London and all his work has reflected his abiding fascination and love for what he modestly likes to refer to as the 'Capital of the World'. He works as a bookseller when he is not writing novels and TV scripts.