Tag: London Falling

The Severed Streets by Paul Cornell

Posted March 27, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Fantasy / 0 Comments

The Severed Streets by Paul CornellTitle: The Severed Streets (Goodreads)
Author: Paul Cornell
Series: Shadow Police #2
Published: Tor, 2014
Pages: 400
Genres: Fantasy
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Detective Inspector James Quill is a member of the Shadow Police, a squad dedicated to solving supernatural crimes. When an invisible murderer kills a high profile cabinet minister in an unusual way, the Shadow Police are called to solve it. Things take a turn when the lead detective from the squad goes missing. Things start to fall apart; can Quill solve this mystery and bring the team back together?

I was really enjoying the Peter Grant series by Ben Aaronovitch lately and I thought I would look for more urban fantasy novels that centred around a detective, when I remembered London Falling. I loved this book which was the first in the Shadow Police series; it was dark gritty and blended police procedural with urban fantasy really well. I read it a while ago and thought it was time to try book two, The Severed Streets. Unfortunately this book did not hold up and suffered the same fate as Happy Hour in Hell by Tad Williams (book two in the Bobby Dollar series).

While London Falling went for a dark and gritty, noir feel to it, The Severed Streets seemed to go in a different direction. It felt too gimmicky and I felt like Paul Cornell was offered a book deal based on this series but had already run out of ideas. First of all, the book is set in London, so it obviously had to reference the 1800s Whitechapel murders. Jack the Ripper has been done to death, especially in urban fantasy; I was immediately reminded of The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson. Also this book has Neil Gaiman as a character and I never enjoy it when they use living people as characters. It is a little hit and miss when a book includes a famous person who is deceased but when it comes to living people, it is normally always a miss.

I feel so angry about this book but mainly because I went in thinking it would be like London Falling. I would have been better off not reading this book and just letting the first novel remain a standalone. Take out Jack the Ripper and Neil Gaiman or replace these characters, and it might have been a decent book. However, for me, it was just a gimmick that did not work. I will not be continuing with the Shadow Police and I have to start my search for a new dark, gritty urban fantasy series to enjoy.

London Falling by Paul Cornell

Posted October 7, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Fantasy / 0 Comments

London Falling by Paul CornellTitle: London Falling (Goodreads)
Author: Paul Cornell
Series: Shadow Police #1
Published: Tor, 2012
Pages: 400
Genres: Fantasy
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Detective Inspector James Quill is about to complete a major drag bust, the type of bust that will launch his career. Then his prize witness went and got himself killed in custody. This mysterious death leads Quill to be recruited by intelligence analyst Lisa Ross into a special CID unit. The murder of his witness suspect Rob Toshack was not a normal one and soon Quill and the team find themselves investigating London’s sinister magical underground.

I’ve said this before, I have a hard time with fantasy but I overcome that by reading books like London Falling. This is a dark and gritty London police procedural/urban fantasy novel; I read it for the mystery and it’s an easy way into the world of fantasy. I’ve had some decent success with this tactic and now I’m faced with the problem of reading urban fantasy and not fantasy.

Let’s get all excited about the author for a moment. For those who don’t know who Paul Cornell is, he has written for Marvel and DC comic books as well as on the TV shows Robin Hood, Primeval, Casualty, Holby City and Coronation Street. The most important achievement and all that really matters is his involvement on Doctor Who; even writing a number of the novels and creating a spin off companion in Bernice Summerfield.

I will admit that I picked this book up solely based on the Doctor Who involvement but I read it because of the dark mystery. I don’t know what it is about English police procedures but for me I think they are far superior; they are not afraid to go dark and the whole police culture over in London in particular is fascinating. With so many cameras filming people’s every move it is interesting to see that the crime rate is still high. I suppose there are not enough men to watch and police every camera but the whole scene fascinates me.

I’ve read the first book in the Ben Aaronovitch series and while that was good, I found this was better. Aaronovitch adds humour to his novel and Peter Grant is a blundering rookie, whereas James Quill is as hard-boiled as they come and you know how much I enjoy that.  The only major issue I had was because this novel tells the story of the CID unit of four people, it is told in a third person perspective and I like the first person perspective in a novel like this just so I can get into the protagonist’s head. This wasn’t a major problem, more of a personal preference.

The book starts off as a police procedural and near the start I was hoping it would turn into something like The Wire but as the magical elements slowly got introduced the book departed from that whole feel and turned into a real urban fantasy affair. The book has a lot of flaws but I enjoyed the noir-ish style and was willing to forgive any shortcomings.

I believe this is the making of a new urban fantasy series and book two, The Severed Streets comes out in April next year.  If you are interested in London based police procedurals and want to try an urban fantasy novel then this is the one to go for you and obviously if you enjoy The Dresden Files series, I would recommend this one as well. It is rare for me to find a series to be excited about, I thought I had that in the Bobby Dollar series but I was disappointed with the second book, let’s hope this isn’t the case with this series too.