Rivers of London/Midnight Riot Ben Aaronovitch

Shocked Smiles WAIT. Wait. Wait. Before we go any further, let me get the content warnings out of the way first. Because I don’t want someone skimming through half of this, getting the book, and then getting on OUR case about it later.
Default Sharky Well that’s a reassuring start.
Shocked Smiles I’m just saying! So what do we have, a lot of casual and less than casual swearing, a protagonist that’s extremely sexually aware of the women around him, and… well the crimes are pretty grisly.
Surprised Sharky Oh God they’re visceral. If you have problems with body horror, just don’t. It’s squirmy enough as it is.
Default Smiles Think really hard about if it’s for you and don’t come crying to us. Now that that’s done, this book is really fun you guys come ooooooon.
Sassy Sharky Yeah, you’re being reeeeal responsible there.
Default Smiles Okay. Okay. I’m good. Imagine you’re a police officer in London, standing watch at a murder scene. Lucky you, it’s the right time and place to catch the sole witness to the event! Except… your witness is a ghost. Good luck explaining that to anyone.
Surprised Sharky 2 You try anyway, so full marks for effort?
Surprised Smiles So you decide to camp out for that ghost again when a very stylishly dressed man asks you what you’re up to. You say you’re ghost hunting, what’s the harm in snarking off to a random busybody member of the public? Eeeeeeexcept he’s a Detective Inspecter and oh God what must he be thinking oh no he’s walking away is he going to tell everyone you’re nuts or worse is this going to effect your job prospects?!
Happy Sharky2 It nets you a job, since he’s the head (and sole member) of the magic police. And things just get crazier from there. Thus begins Rivers of London. Or Midnight Riot depending on where it’s being published. It's actually pretty thril-
Happy Smiles MAGIC POLICE. How can you say that without getting excited?! They’re also known as the Folly, but why say that when you can say MAGIC. POLICE.
Default Sharky I get it, I get it, you’re thrilled.
Default Smiles Here we are back to our old love, the snarky, smartass main character. And if that isn’t enough you get a semi snarky, semi serious doctor who specialises in ‘this man died of magic reasons’, and the cool, powerful and utterly mysterious Inspector who is God knows how old because he gets adorably baffled by modern technology.
Sassy Sharky Have you spotted Smiles’s favourite yet?
Default Smiles Shhh. Now, yes there’s magic, yes there are ghosts, and all of that is always fun, but something new to the table is the river gods and all their ‘children’. Guess what. The Thames has two presiding deities and they’re in a turf war. And you thought you could relax.
Surprised Sharky If anyone can relax when a spirit is possessing people, committing murders and making their faces fall off?
Confused Smiles Well… for a given value of relax…
Happy Sharky2 It’s great to see how London just… handles things and goes trucking on as if nothing supernatural happened here at all thank you very much. Most of that’s thanks to the Folly, who try their best to make sure everything has at least a tiny thread of rational explanation to hold onto, and watching them do that is really great in and of itself. But there are great parts where the media just goes running off by itself, for example to attribute inexplicable mass riots to whatever they don’t agree with at the current time. There’s something refreshingly and ridiculously human about that.
Surprised Smiles Now, if you’re like me and don’t mind that you don’t understand many references because the story is interesting enough to shrug them off, you’ll be fine. Otherwise… yeah. This book is packed to the gills with casual references to England in general and London in particular that I’m sure are very apt and probably funny to anyone who gets them. I don’t, but I tend not to mind. They’re spread out enough that I can just run after the thread of the plot rather than floundering around lost in references for five pages or so.
Default Sharky Smiles has two modes. Ignoring all references he doesn’t understand or making a list and looking up EVERYTHING before he continues reading.
Happy Smiles And once again, a classy, classy cover. Make sure to look out for the one based on a map by Stephen Walters. So nice.
Default Sharky On to the objections. Here we are, a strong first book to a series. But the middle books aren’t as strong as the first one by a definite margin. But they’re better than the second. I don’t know, I just feel like the pace starts getting too fast and a little muddled. I remember spending a lot of time on the second book having to go back and figure out what the heck just happened. And not in a fun ‘mystery’ way but more of a ‘wait wait wait hold on what’s happening everyone stop’ way. But again, did I frustratedly backtrack, yes, did I start skipping, yes, did I stop reading, no. Because take it all in all, they’re still fun and we’re still with those characters we love.
Happy Smiles And we probably mentioned before that we can forgive anything if we love the characters we’re with.
Surprised Sharky That statement hasn’t been tested to its limits yet and I really hope it won’t be.


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