My friend Geonn enthusiastically endorsed the first book in the Peter Grant series, Rivers of London, back in 2011, and I bought the first two installments soon thereafter. He was right about their appeal: a London police constable is drawn into a hidden world of magic and spirits and becomes an apprentice wizard while also solving crimes. London’s river spirits are chatty and manipulative, there are all kinds of creatures hiding just below the surface of the city’s winding streets, and moreover, the books are a love letter to their location, which is just fine by me, because I am very, very fond of London.
I read the first two in the series back-to-back, and enjoyed both mightily, especially growing to care for our first person protagonist, the naive but canny Peter. Of mixed heritage, a working class background and a deeply geeky bent, he is attractive in a way that makes you feel weird about it, since he’s an invented person in a book and why do you have a crush on an invented person in a book? But book crushes are real, and Peter is one of mine. Which is probably the reason it took me so long to read this, his third book, even though I found it and the following two titles in the series, all steeply discounted, several years back.
Too many feelings.
Here, Peter is as devastatingly appealing as ever, investigating the murder of a well-connected US citizen who might also have ties to the specialized magical community of which most people know nothing. (Though the rate at which Peter divulges the secret, they’re going to have to come out of the shadows, vampires on True Blood-style, sooner rather than later.) He’s funny, he’s cocky yet self-effacing, he’s witty yet nerdy as hell — he recognizes Tolkien elvish on sight, references Star Trek and Discworld and oh my God, he is my perfect man — and is developing a slow-burn romance with his partner in all things mystic, Leslie, despite the unfortunate accident that has damaged her face beyond repair. The mystery is a bit lacking this time, its various circumlocutions seeming to go through the motions even as Peter’s magical abilities… really don’t progress much, either.
Nevertheless, the book is a good time, and makes me eager to read the next in the series–even if I am a little uncomfortable about being so fond of a fictional character that I wish he was real, and my friend.
I know everyone does this. But I don’t like it, and on the rare occasions it happens to me, I rarely pick up another book about that character ever again. Too much commitment. And I get too sad that they can never truly be in my life.
Tragic, isn’t it?
TBR DAY 49: Whispers Under Ground (Peter Grant #3) by Ben Aaronovitch
GENRE: Alternate History, Fantasy
TIME ON THE TBR: 3 years.
PURCHASED FROM: The Book Grocer, Brunswick.