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Midnight Riot, by Ben Aaronovitch Book Review | SFReader.com
Midnight Riot, by Ben Aaronovitch Genre: Dark Fantasy Publisher: Del Rey Published: 2011 Review Posted: 4/19/2014 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated
Midnight Riot, by Ben Aaronovitch
Book Review by Joshua Palmatier
Have you read this book?
Midnight Riot is the first book in Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series. This is urban fantasy, set in London (obviously), and as most of you know, I'm not an avid urban fantasy fan. So take that into account when reading this review.
The premise is that Probationary Constable Peter Grant has "graduated" and is looking forward to being a real detective . . . except it appears he'll be assigned to a desk job. But after a grisly murder, he finds himself talking to an eyewitness ghost. His only hope in avoiding that desk job is to work with Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic. And this murder seems to fit the bill. As the horrific murders continue, Peter finds out there's more to the London streets than meets the eye.
In terms of urban fantasy, this book had a few good hooks going for it, which is why I picked it up in the first place. First, there's no focus on vampires (although their existence is addressed) or werewolves. Instead, the focus seems to be this magical crime and who might be wielding magic to commit the murders. And then there's the slow introduction of the gods and goddesses of the rivers of London. This idea--that each river has a manifestation in human form--was intriguing. I was drawn in by both of those concepts.
I was also drawn into the book by the dry humor of Peter Grant. He's mostly prosaic, but there are sudden punches of humor that bring him suddenly to vivid life. I did wish there were more of these instances in the book, because aside from those, and the scenes where Peter is starting to explore his magical abilities, Peter himself was sort of lifeless. I believe that some of this is to emphasize that he's a cop, and the style of the writing reflects that. But I still (in sections) wanted to see more life from Peter.
In a similar vein, while the manifestations of the rivers was a cool concept . . . I was expecting something more to happen with that in this book. Perhaps it happens in later books, as the series progresses. I was more interested in this plot element than the mystery of the murders, and in the end, this book is focused mostly on that mystery and its resolution. I was hoping for more from the other plotline as well.
So, while I enjoyed the book, in the end I felt as if I wanted more from certain aspects of it. I'll be reading the second, because multiple friends of mine have raved about the series, so I'll see if some of the promise of the rivers of London concept comes to fruition in the later volumes.