Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch. (Also titled Rivers of London). ★★★
It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great either. I found it entertaining enough, but I won’t be picking up the sequel.
Midnight Riot’s is a police procedural sort of urban fantasy, the sort I’ve been keeping an eye out for after reading London Falling earlier this year. The tag line is a familiar one: rookie cop faces bad job prospects until a mysterious murder reveals that magic is real and he has the sight. From there, Peter Grant, our narrator, is introduced to the police department in charge of all things magical. The department’s almost dead, and its only employee is Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who promptly takes Peter Grant on as an apprentice. Together with Nightingale and fellow police officer Leslie, Peter investigates the wave of unusual murders hitting London.
As I said earlier, it wasn’t all bad. There were some funny lines, and the set up of the murders were interesting. I also liked some of the detecting bits. The hero’s also mixed race, which is a change from the run of the mill urban fantasy detective. However, I had issues with the plot and pacing and some of the narration regarding women.
The mystery aspect didn’t pick up until half way through. Yes, there were murders happening, but the reaction seemed to be “Gee, look! Another dead guy with a rearranged face!” I’m not sure what sort of investigating they could have been doing at that point, but I think there needed to be something more.
I also kept assuming that the different plot threads – the mysterious murders and the feud between Father Thames and Mother Thames would come together somehow, which they didn’t. The book would have been a lot better if it integrated the two plots or just focused on the mystery instead. As it was, I think the mystery was underdeveloped.
The female characters themselves may be competent (this one’s still up for grabs), but the narration regarding the two main ones (Leslie and Beverly) was tiring. The attention kept being brought back to how sexually attractive they were, and I really didn’t need to read about how Peter had had a sexual dream or erection or whatever. There was a bit in the last chapter that was really squicky and not at all related to the plot or characters.
I’m not highly recommending this one. If you want to check it out, I’d suggest getting it from the library first.