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Review: Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch

Midnight Riot

Ben Aaronovitch

Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost…more

My Rating:

An old-school cop story tricked out with ghosts, magic and history that weave together in a frenetic story of PC Peter Grant and DCI Peter Nightingale in Midnight Riot (Rivers of London in the UK) by Ben Aaronovitch

Putting a fresh twist to Urban Fantasy, Midnight Riot is a never-ending footrace to learn magic, a far more complicated thing then simply being a wizard and suddenly knowing it all or being gifted. There is a very realistic nature to the way magic flows and works in this book, and assumedly the books that follow. Peter Nightingale is old, but not a curmudgeon, thereby avoiding the mentor and apprentice cliché, though his appearance would suggest otherwise. And Peter Grant is a fun, smart, and determined protagonist, avoiding the classic dog-eared and down detective trope. Then again, he’s just getting started, so maybe we should give him time. Still the outlook and positive expression of the characters is shadowed by the disturbingly dark magical terror that has people irrationally breaking out into violence and mauling others to death.

This case is ridiculously twisted, digging deep into historical aspects and long standing feuds that might cause the reader to do a little history lesson digging themselves. This might be slightly off-putting, as it could lead to some confusion, keeping names straight and knowing nothing about the history of Punch and Judy could make this speedster of a novel become a tad too much. But, if a reader takes the moment to learn something new, or just sit along for the ride, then it’s a remarkable ride to be on. Being the first in a series, it’s possible Aaronovitch is trying to push the limits to initiate the reader as fast as he writes the initiation of Peter into the policing force that guards against mystical threats. Regardless, this book could teach a reader new things, and be a refreshing take on not just urban fantasy novels, but on detective novels as well.

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