Tag: Peter Grant

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.


Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch

Posted March 6, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Fantasy / 2 Comments

Broken Homes by Ben AaronovitchTitle: Broken Homes (Goodreads)
Author: Ben Aaronovitch
Series: Peter Grant #4
Narrator: Kobna Holdbrook-Smith
Published: Orion, 2013
Pages: 324
Genres: Fantasy
My Copy: Audiobook

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

Peter Grant has gotten himself an arch-nemesis; a twisted magician known as the Faceless Man is reeking having on London’s underground. On the case of a suspected serial killer named Robert Weil, Peter Grant has discovered a deeper conspiracy involving his nemesis and weirdly enough a neo-brutalist housing estate. Will Peter finally stop the Faceless Man? Can he work out just how he feels about his partner Lesley Mai? Or can he make it through one case without destroying a major landmark?

As most people know, I am a fan of the Peter Grant series and Broken Homes (the fourth book) did not disappoint. Ben Aaronovitch has created a great world that mixes police work, urban fantasy and humour together perfectly. So much so, that as soon as I finished Whispers Under Ground, which is book three, I picked up Broken Homes.

The best thing about this series is the overarching story that unfolds. This does mean you have to read the books in order but it is something that I found was missing in many crime series and The Dresden Files. I enjoy watching the characters grow and discovering new details about this world. So much so that I was ready to pick up book five, which is called Foxglove Summer right away. I haven’t done that but I suspect it will happen soon.

In every book there is something that is revealed about the world or characters that really helps cement my love for the series and the world that has been created. This time there was more around Inspector Nightingale’s back story including the elite wizardry school he attended when he was young; which means plenty of Harry Potter jokes to be told.

I have talked a lot about this series, since I have reviewed every book but one thing I find hard about reviewing a series, especially a crime one, is how to avoid spoilers. There is so much to love about these books and I highly recommend them but I cannot say much about them. This does make it difficult to recommend them or convince people to read them but know that I enjoyed Whispers Under Ground so much that Foxglove Summer will probably be read very soon. Then I will have to wait til November for The Hanging Tree (book six) to be released.


Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch

Posted February 25, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Fantasy / 4 Comments

Whispers Under Ground by Ben AaronovitchTitle: Whispers Under Ground (Goodreads)
Author: Ben Aaronovitch
Series: Peter Grant #3
Narrator: Kobna Holdbrook-Smith
Published: Orion, 2012
Pages: 303
Genres: Fantasy
My Copy: Audiobook

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

When a body is found stabbed to death at the far end of Baker Street tube station, it seems like an ordinary murder. The victim is an exchange student at Central St. Martins named James Gallagher and his father is an American senator. The Folly have been called in to assist with the investigation and it is quickly discovers that there is a supernatural component to this crime. This case leads Peter Grant into the secret underground that lies underneath the streets of London.

Peter Grant is back in the third book in the series, still a sorcerer’s apprentice to Inspector Nightingale. The Folly, which is the police department that specialises in the supernatural has grown to three, as Lesley May officially joins the team. Yet again this is a natural progression in the series, Peter doesn’t know many spells and still struggles with his form but he has grown as a police officer, a wizard and a person. What I enjoyed about Whispers Under Ground is the character Dr Abdul Haqq Walid is explored in greater detail. He is a world renowned gastroenterologist and cryptopathologist who works with the Folly and is investigating how magic effects the world. This allows Ben Aaronovitch to build his world a bit more and explores the effects of magic.

While this is an urban fantasy series, it follows the tropes found in a police procedural and Peter Grant never just relies on his magical abilities but rather sticks to his strengths, which he learned from his training. There is a lot of investigational work within the series and sometimes I worry that the police procedural elements will over power the urban fantasy or humour, however Aaronovitch gets the balance right.

If you have not read the series, I would highly recommend it mainly because of the character development, in particular Peter Grant and Nightingale. Peter Grant is a biracial character (his mother is from Sierra Leone and I am pretty sure his father is white) and his heritage and life play a big part in shaping him. This also allows Ben Aaronovitch to play a little with racism but I feel like he handles the whole subject well. Inspector Nightingale is a prim and proper Englishman and the last officially sanctioned English Wizard, having gone to a now defunct private school for wizardry allows for plenty of Harry Potter jokes.

This is a fun series that I am completely immersed in; when I finished Whispers Under Ground I didn’t want to leave the world. I started Broken Homes (which is book four) straight away, which is unusual for me but I needed to know what happened next. For fans of urban fantasy, police procedurals and British humour, I highly recommend the Peter Grant series, I do not think you will be disappointed.


Moon over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch

Posted November 24, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Fantasy / 0 Comments

Moon over Soho by Ben AaronovitchTitle: Moon over Soho (Goodreads)
Author: Ben Aaronovitch
Series: Peter Grant #2
Narrator: Kobna Holdbrook-Smith
Published: Orion, 2011
Pages: 396
Genres: Fantasy
My Copy: Audiobook

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

Constable Peter Grant is back and this time he suspects sorcery in Soho. Jazz musicians in the area are dying; brains scans show they have been magically drained. When the girlfriend of one of the victim’s ends up in bed with Peter, complications are ensured. DCI Nightingale is still recovering so it is up to Peter Grant to handle this one alone.

One of the things I loved about the first book in this series, Rivers of London, was the fact that Peter Grant was a new police officer and new to wizardry. Moon over Soho is a natural progression from that; except that Peter Grant has improved in leaps and bounds. There are still mistakes being made but he is starting to come into his own element, it is like watching him grow as a character.

I’m not sure why the humour has been scaled back in this series but the urban fantasy style seems to be well established and I’m excited to read book three. The series is starting to give Harry Dresden from The Dresden Files a run for his money. While not as dark, the London setting and humour in all its nuance makes for a fantastic read. Ben Aaronovitch’s series may in some parts feel very similar to other urban fantasy novels; I’m impressed with the way he stands apart from the others.

I want to say it is the real English flavour that makes this series enjoyable; I love that style of crime and comedy. This could be because more urban fantasy novels are set in an American or fantastical setting. The uniqueness of the style makes this feel fresh, and then you get all those tropes from urban English novels thrown in as well, like slang.

When it comes to plot, the novel is pretty standard in relation to urban fantasy. I think the characters, the setting and humour is what makes this novel and series interesting. I was in a reading slump when I worked my way through this book. I tried it as a way to break the slump; I was able to read and enjoy the novel but never got out of my slump.

Unfortunately I’m still in a slump, but reading this novel was fun and entertaining. I’m almost tempted in reading book three just to work my way out of the slump. I will talk more about slumps later but reading books like this might do the trick in breaking my reading problems. Peter Grant is a fun character and the series is really enjoyable, I can’t wait to read more.


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.


Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

Posted January 8, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Fantasy / 0 Comments

Rivers of London by Ben AaronovitchTitle: Rivers of London (Goodreads)
Author: Ben Aaronovitch
Series: Peter Grant #1
Narrator: Kobna Holdbrook-Smith
Published: Orion, 2011
Pages: 400
Genres: Fantasy
My Copy: Audiobook

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

Probationary Constable Peter Grant has big dreams to become a real detective in the London police  but has found himself as part of the Case Progression Unit, doing paperwork while his friend Lesley May has landed her dream job. But one unexpected encounter finds him being recruited into a small branch that deals with the supernatural.

At first glance this urban fantasy novel sounds very much like the Dresden Files series and it is; but there is a bigger injection of humour in this series that makes it very enjoyable. The humour is really what makes this novel, it’s funny and at times unexpected; for example the desire to motorboat a river goddess doesn’t occur to everyone does it? Constable Grant is a great character at times, he isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed but what do you expect? Becoming the first apprentice wizard in fifty years doesn’t happen every day and it really helps drive him.

Unlike Harry Dresden, Peter Grant is still very new to wizardry and being a detective so he doesn’t have the years of experience and cynicism behind him, which at times can be a little disappointing but for the humour element, it seems to work best. The case that this book is centred around isn’t too well explained so I felt a little lost at times and often questioned the character’s ability to draw conclusions without any information at all. But in the end this is just a fun read.

I will admit when I finished reading this book I immediately wanted to start reading book two which is a good sign of how much I enjoyed this book. I even wanted to read some more from the Dresden Files series but as always I moved onto something completely different. The desire to read the next book is still there and I’m really looking forward to immersing myself into this world again. It was a fun, pleasurable read and I think might make for some good comic relief after reading a dense novel.