Ben Aaronovitch - Shastrix Books

Ben Aaronovitch

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False Value

False Value

Ben Aaronovitch

22nd March 2020

The eight full-length novel in the Peter Grant / Rivers of London series is happily back in the territory of the stand-alone adventure, after the previous novel’s slightly confusing attempt to wrap up some ongoing plot threads. We meet Peter, recently having left the police, as he begins a new job as a security guard for a high tech business in London.

I mean, it’s great. The plot takes some real world elements and adds some magical twists, the character’s lives keep moving along outside this at a realistic pace. The cast of characters is as rich, detailed, and amusing as always, and the interactions between the characters are great fun.

This novel contains a great collection of references and jokes - particularly to Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series - as well as some humour at its own expense, particularly around how the character has come to speak in policese. I’m not sure how well this would work for readers who aren’t familiar with the source material of these references - but then I don’t know whether the Venn diagram of readers will have a large segment of Aaronovitch but not Adams readers.

The one thing that always throws me about this series though continues - a feeling that I’ve missed something. Between each novel it seems that things have been happening to the characters - almost like they have real lives and we are only seeing brief windows in the novels. But this always leaves me feeling slightly confused about some elements and unsure whether they are things I’ve forgotten, or things I’m just meant to infer from the text.

Overall though, another really fantastic novel.

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The October Man

The October Man

Ben Aaronovitch

22nd July 2019

A fascinating spin-off from the Rivers of London series, this novella is set in Germany, with the German equivalent of Peter Grant starring as a trainee magical police officer, investigating crimes with mystical involvement.

It contains a number of familiar elements that clearly place it in the same universe, and the odd tip of the hat to readers of the main series - yet could easily serve as a short introduction, as there’s no prior knowledge necessary to enjoy the story, which features an investigation into a mysterious death.

What I loved the most was in the narrative. It’s written in first person, and clearly depicted as having been translated from the original German - and this comes across wonderfully in the use of German idioms. This level of attention to detail made me chuckle and enjoy the book even more.

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Lies Sleeping

Lies Sleeping

Ben Aaronovitch

28th April 2019

Somehow the seventh novel in the Peter Grant / Rivers of London series, this story sees some of the ongoing plot come to a head.

As with some of the other stories, there’s a vague sense as I read it of having missed something, which makes me feel like I’ve forgotten a previous story but I think is just a reference to things that are happening ‘off camera’ in the space between the novels.

I continue to love this series, and find it hard to put the books down. The characters are compelling, bearing a rich and textured backstory that we’re still only gradually picking apart, and evolving social lives, which paint them into a wider world of magic and the mystical, while still allowing the presence of a solid plot to progress.

A series I totally recommend reading.

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The Furthest Station

The Furthest Station

Ben Aaronovitch

29th July 2018

A novella in the Rivers of London series, this book follows pretty much the same pattern as the full-length novels, just in abbreviated form. I almost wonder if it was conceived as a possible idea for a full novel, but turned out to not quite have the legs. All for the best really if so, as it makes an excellent novella.

I’m not entirely clear quite where it fits into the timeline of the stories - I’ve recently read the sixth book, but it felt like this story referred back much more to elements from one of the earlier novels. That said, there wasn’t anything that needed explaining too much to me, and I was along for the ride pretty quickly.

I very much enjoyed dipping my toe back into this world and watching Peter and his friends and colleagues investigating a little stand-alone mystery, with each chapter introducing some new colour. It’s a format I very much approve of for this series, and I hope that more novellas will follow.

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The Hanging Tree

The Hanging Tree

Ben Aaronovitch

25th March 2018

The sixth Rivers of London novel continues the adventures of magical policeman Peter Grant, investigating slightly paranormal crimes in contemporary London. This time when a teenager dies of an apparent overdose, he’s summoned by his girlfriend’s sister to keep her daughter out of the investigation, which as can be expected doesn’t turn out to be straightforward.

I don’t know if it’s too long since I read the previous book, but I got the impression that I’d missed something, as the characters kept referring back to events that I couldn’t remember, or whether this is intended by the author to hint that some time has passed and that other cases have come and gone in the meantime. I also struggled a little with some aspects of the ongoing plot that runs through the series, as some of the events are a bit hazy in my memory. It’s possible this is the type of series that benefits from occasional re-read-throughs to defamiliarise the reader.

I really love this series, and reading this book has kicked me back into a bit of a reading binge. The only annoyance is that I’ve caught up now with the publication of the Peter Grant books (apart from a novella which I’ll soon devour, probably in one sitting).

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Foxglove Summer

Foxglove Summer

Ben Aaronovitch

4th May 2017

The fifth Peter Grant novel continues the adventures of a twenty-first century trainee wizard police officer. For the first time, he's left the south-east, London area, and ventured slightly northward into the countryside to take a quick look-in on a missing persons case that might have a tiny suspicion of magical involvement.

As with the whole of the series, it's a great story that follows a compelling character. Aaranovitch paints a picture of a well-fleshed out world viewed through the eyes of someone who is still learning about it, and his slightly-humbling improvised policing and magic techniques make for an excellent balance between comedy and crime.

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Broken Homes

Broken Homes

Ben Aaronovitch

26th May 2016

The fourth book in the Rivers of London series is another thrilling and mysterious adventure for Peter Grant and his colleagues at The Folly, headquarters of the Metropolitan Police's only wizard division.

There's a lot that serves as confrontation of the series' ongoing plot and I don't think this one really works as a stand-alone without the knowledge of what has gone before. For those who are following the story it offers a lot, including some titbits of background and some major developments.

One of the aspects that I like best about this series is the simplicity of the magic system compared with the rich detail of the London setting. Aaronovitch demonstrates an endless knowledge of the capital and it's diverse cultural heritage which vastly increased the realism and depth of the story.

Quite possibly his best yet, and one which only increases my desire to keep reading.

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Other reviewed books

Whispers Underground
Moon Over Soho
Rivers of London

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