Friday, 20 February 2015
#CBR7 Book 18: "Rivers of London" by Ben Aaronovitch
Audio book length: 9 hrs 56 mins
Rating: 4 stars
Peter Grant is a probationary officer with the London Metropolitan Police when he, one night takes a witness statement from an individual who just happens to be a ghost. Unusual as this is, it saves Peter from a life of tedium in the Case Progression Unit (basically doing other cops' paperwork for them) and to the attention of Inspector Nightingale, who just happens to be a wizard. Peter becomes the first wizard's apprentice in England for more than 50 years, but Harry Potter this is not.
Some malevolent supernatural force is possessing individuals all over London, causing riots, unrest and death. The victims of the possession end up dead with their faces collapsed. There appears to be no clear connection between the crimes and the victims, but Peter and his fellow Detective Constable Leslie May investigate as best they can. Peter is also learning what it means to be a wizard - mainly a lot of tedious Latin study, reading history of magic text books and hours and hours of repetitive practise to do the most basic of spells. He does get to live in some very swanky digs with all his meals cooked by the silent and mysterious Molly and once he gets broadband and cable TV installed in parts of the house, things are looking pretty promising. Occasionally he even gets to drive Nightingale's flashy Jaguar.
As well as learning the basics of magic and trying to solve the strange and violent murders, Peter needs to help Nightingale negotiate a truce between Old Father Themes and Mama Themes, who are in disagreement as to who has control of the river and the city of London. The conflict needs to be resolved before their children come to blows.
I got my Audible account when I was advised that Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden books were a lot more enjoyable when narrated by James Marsters. Last year, I finally got caught up, and suddenly no longer had a monthly book to spend a credit on. As Audible only allows you to hoard six measly credits, I keep having to find new audio books to spend my credits on. This is not helped by the fact that I have discovered myself to be very picky when it comes to who narrates the books. If I don't like the narrator's voice, the quality of the book doesn't matter. I won't enjoy the book. Happily, Audible allows me to sample the books before I buy. But I've been looking for a new series to spend my credits on, and I think I may have found it. My previous experience with Ben Aaronovitch is as a script writer on classic Doctor Who. While I'm not a huge fan of Sylvester McCoy's Doctor (the Doctor of my husband's childhood), I am rather fond of both Remembrance of the Daleks (the Special Weapon's Dalek!) and Battlefield (I'm a sucker for Ancelyn and Bambera's burgeoning romance).
Having listened to the sample on Audible, I really liked the narration from Kobna Holdbrook-Smith. IMDB tells me he's got 31 acting credits to his name, but I've never seen him in anything, nor had I heard of him before. He has a wonderful voice, though, and narrates the various characters in the book brilliantly, mastering the various regional accents and tones without any difficulty. He really made all the characters come alive and while I don't doubt I would have liked the book fine if I read it myself, the audio book experience was great. I will absolutely be picking up more of these books on Audible and can recommend them to anyone else who wants entertaining paranormal/urban fantasy, differing a bit from a lot of the books out there simply by being set in London, not somewhere in the US.
Crossposted on Cannonball Read.