Rivers of London – Three amazing books by Ben Aaronovitch

It’s a lost art – book buying. I wince even as I type that – like I’m personally killing books by saying it. But if not lost today then soon. Ebooks are great and do make life easier, yet they just aren’t the same. But they are changing the reading/writing/publishing game. Getting a kindle was a bitter sweet moment in my life. You see I’m a book geek. Always have been. I love to touch them, leaf through them, smell them. I also love to feel their covers. I’m not proud of it but I just can’t bring my self to buy or love a book with a rubbish cover. It’s taken me a while to overcome this enough to buy ebooks. It’s made a bit easier by my snazzy tactile kindle cover.

What first attracted me to Rivers of London was the cover. Its doodle / graffiti map of London overlaid with the strong bold font in blood red, not to mention how smooth and right it felt in my hand.

Sci-fi set in London. I was sold! I grew up in the big smoke and any books that are set in it immediately pluck at my nostalgic heart strings. The pictures in my mind are sharper and more vivid.

From the first page I was impressed. It’s rare to find a main character so immediate and likeable. You are instantly in his head for the crazy ride through the unknown magical side of London.

Peter is honest, modest and most importantly funny. No matter how serious the shit going down is, his perspective is light and likeable. It doesn’t detract from the severity of the events but it provides a counter point which gives it a great balance.

There is a winning combination in the book that makes it such a page turner: it combines the behind the scenes crime novel with magic and myth adding a big helping of London’s secret history into the mix.

The secret ingredient is Peters perspective and his world view. He has had a tough life; black in a mostly white profession and city; his dads continuing battle with addiction and driving passion for music. Yet he is not maudlin nor troubled. He is just trying to get on and do the best he can. It makes him easy to identify with and really easy to like.

So far there are three books in this series with a fourth in the pipe line (Broken Homes (2013)).

Book 1) Rivers of London (2011) introduces us to Peter Grant, a well meaning if not always very focused police constable who haphazardly discovers another side of London – a darker side. He works with the last wizard in England to unravel a mystery and save ordinary Londoners from a sly evil that is literally tearing people up.

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Book 2) Moon Over Soho (2011) follows on directly from the previous book. We have the cast of regular characters plus many new ones through whom we begin to learn more of the magical side of London. We look back on Nightingale’s past as well as Peter’s own history. We see how his parents, his childhood made him what he is. There are good times and bad, plus plenty of twist and turns to keep the adrenalin soaring.

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Book 3) Whispers Under Ground (2012) is a continuation that sees lovely Lesley installed at the Folly and Peter with a chance of getting on the Murder Squad. It’s the amazing mix of history and myth all told in the crisp funny voice that keeps you totally hooked from the first sentence to the last.

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Brand New Image

So tell me what you think? About the new image that is. It’s a combination of symbols and characters from my first novel (name tbd).

As it’s a work in progress the image certainly represents how I feel about the novel right now and the shape it’s currently in.

It’s hard to know what it will be in its final version when all the words are out of me and on the screen. I chip away at it day after day and week after week. Sometimes I wake in the night having realised through a dream why a character would do something, how they would react. In all honesty it does not feel like I invent and write, it feels like I discover and reveal things.

Here is a passage from the book that provides the best insight what it’s about. Do tell me what you think of the art and of the synopsis!

Under my grey fleece and winter coat, I’m shivering and I can feel the scratchiness of the fabric as my hairs stand all on end. The taste in the back of my throat is old and lingering adrenaline. I can’t recall when I last felt comfortable and relaxed. When did I last live without fear? The hungry rats crawling in my belly won’t lie still, because they know that the worst is yet to come and they scratch and wriggle trying to get away.

If they know, I should have bloody known. I should have known better, but I took it personally. I thought that losing my mum and dad in the way that I did was about us. About the Kin. That we were hated and we were hunted. Oh so naively I thought it was all about me me me. But the picture was much bigger than that and right now even though I can’t see its edges I at least realize my complete and utter insignificance.

If only i’d kept my head down. Maybe they would have let me live.