Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Rivers Of London The Rivers Of London
by Ben Aaronovitch

Supplied for review by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed By: Simon Litten

The Rivers of London is Ben Aaronovitch’s first foray into fiction outside the BBC’s Doctor Who universe; he was a scriptwriter for the series and has penned some tie-in novels. The Rivers of London is also published by Del Rey (Random House) under the title Midnight Riot.

The Rivers of London is crime story and a fantasy, or a fantasy and a police procedural, or it’s an urban fantasy. Whichever way one looks at it The Rivers of London is firmly set in a London where ghosts exist, genus loci manifest and maintain a life and very, very odd things can happen: especially if one happens to be a junior police constable about to transferred to the career graveyard world of the Case Progression Unit (CPU).

Peter Grant, a constable shortly to be assigned to the CPU, is guarding a murder scene when he meets an eye witness who demonstrates he’s a ghost. Detective Chief Inspector Nightingale, of a very select crime unit of one (him), learns of Peter’s conversation and the CPU is sidestepped and Peter discovers there’s more to life than he thought possible. Peter’s life gets very complex, at discrete intervals mayhem and murder abound, and as part of his policing duties besides deal with a murderer Peter has to broker a peace between the families of Father and Mother Thames (no relation).

This was a fun read, with likable characters and a very tongue in cheek style. Often I can be heard complaining that an author should be reminded that less can be more. Mr Aaronovitch has taken that motto to heart and has delivered a sparsely written book with nary a word wasted. And a real pleasure it was to read too.

The Rivers of London is the start of series the draws on the wealth of historical oddities that have accumulated to London and its environment. The next book, Moon Over Soho (same title by Del Rey too), is already on the shelves and yes, I will be buying it. Just when I was despairing of fantasy a cluster of bright lights, Ben Aaronovitch being one, have come to the rescue with some toothsome new works – for which I am ever so grateful. Now to find Moon Over Soho.

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