Book Review: Rivers of London



I happened upon the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch on accident.  I was visiting London last February and we had stopped into the Waterstones on Oxford Street.  This is a tradition.  It’s certainly not a large branch of the bookstore chain.  It just happens to be conveniently located near my other shopping haunts.

By the way, I love that the UK has not done away with their bookstores.  Kudos to them for valuing an experience over convenience.

Sorry…where was I?  Right!  So, I was perusing the “Buy 2, Get 1” table when I saw the covers of a selection of the Rivers of London books (I believe it was the first three).  They intrigued me before I’d even read the description.  You can see from above that they are very dynamic.  Incidentally, the US versions are very different and not very appealing at all.  I wouldn’t have picked it up had I seen it here (but the chances of that are slim since there aren’t any bookstores left).

Anyhow, after determining which book was number one in the series (Rivers of London in the UK, Midnight Riot in the US), I purchased it.  If I have one complaint, it’s that the books aren’t labeled so you know what order they are in.

Something told me this book was going to be good.  Not only did the blurb sound exciting- if Harry Potter became a cop and ran around London solving crimes- but the artwork of the cover was also very titillating.

Once I got home, it didn’t take long for me to pull it from my pile of “to reads”.  It also didn’t take me long to finish it.  Since then, I have read number two in the series, Moon over Soho.

They are both superb books for the fantasy, scifi, and mystery aficionados- of which I am all three.  The writing is witty, sarcastic, and vivid- three things I look for in a great writer’s voice.  The plots are just elaborate enough to keep your attention, but not exhaust you.

My favorite part is the relationship between the lead character, Peter Grant, and those close to him.  Mr. Aaronovitch has a way of showing Peter’s emotions in a suitable, but poignant way.  It’s subtle, which I like a lot.

I also like that there’s a secondary plot that stays in all the books.  The gods and goddesses of the rivers are a great constant, wrecking havoc for Peter and the other police constables behind the scenes.

Mr. Aaronovitch also doesn’t shy away from terrible things.  In the first book, there’s a particular scene that involves a child.  While I won’t give it away, I will say it stayed with me.  He handled it well- he showed that life brings horrible deeds, but that we as humans must deal with them in human ways.  He doesn’t move on to the next scene without touching upon how this horrible deed affected the characters.  I appreciated that.

The fact he also ties in romanctic themes- in a way I wouldn’t expect from a man- makes it one of my favorite series of all time.  It’s heartfelt, irreverent, action packed, even scary at times.

If you’re looking for an all around entertaining series, this is it.  I look forward to reading more about Peter Grant and his band of quirky sidekicks.



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