Wednesday 4 December 2013

Rivers of London, by Ben Aaronovitch

"Being a seasoned Londoner, Martin gave the body the 'London once-over' – a quick glance to determine whether this was a drunk, a crazy or a human being in distress. The fact that it was entirely possible for someone to be all three simultaneously is why good-Samaritanism in London is considered an extreme sport – like base-jumping or crocodile-wrestling."

When I read the above extract on the first page of the novel, I thought "I'm going to enjoy this book" and indeed I did. Set in present-day London, it tells the story of Peter Grant, a young police constable, who discovers that there's an entirely unsuspected aspect of London – populated by ghosts, vampires, deities and wizards. This is reluctantly acknowledged by a few senior police officers, and Peter finds himself assigned to work with Detective Chief Inspector Nightingale, who turns out to be much more than just a policeman. As he tries to help Nightingale solve a series of brutal and bizarre murders, Peter finds allies and enemies among the supernatural inhabitants of the capital city – and some major temptations along the way.

The writing is full of the deadpan cynicism revealed in the first quote, and frequently had me chuckling. If the content sounds familiar, it is in a similar category to Fated, by Benedict Jacka, which I reviewed here in July. I'm not really sure which book I enjoyed the most, but fortunately there are several more in each series, so I have a lot of entertaining reading to come before I need to reach a conclusion.

One book I tried to read recently was Among Others, by Jo Walton. This has received rave reviews and managed the rare double win, being voted best novel for both the 2011 Nebula Award and the 2012 Hugo Award. It is a first-person account of the life of a young Welsh girl who finds solace from a grim reality in her reading of SFF books, to which there are copious references. I ploughed on for over 70 pages before deciding that it was getting nowhere interesting and I didn't care what happened next, so I gave up.

Anyone who might have made use of the lists of book and screen reviews on this blog (see left-hand column) has probably noticed that these two lists are no longer in alphabetical order. Or to be more accurate, each of them is in two groups, each of which is in alphabetical order: those reviews posted before 29 June 2013 form the major group, but all those posted since then form a separate list which appears first. Clicking on the "sort alphabetically " button in the Design controls works while I am on the design page – but has no effect when I return to the web page. I have tried everything I can think of to merge these two groups, including individually moving each review into its proper place in the lists, but again this does not transfer to the web page. I don't know what happened in late June but it is obviously resistant to change. Any suggestions welcomed…

Incidentally, this week's posting is early for domestic reasons, and the next one will be late. Normal service should be resumed thereafter.

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