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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Book Review: Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch 
29th-Oct-2010 11:30 pm
Aaronovitch, Ben. Midnight Riot. New York: Del Rey, 2011 (forthcoming).
          Summary: Peter Grant is a new Constable of London's Metropolitan Police whose chance run-in with a ghostly informant leads to him become apprenticed to Detective Inspector Thomas Nightingale, apparently the last living wizard in England. Soon enough, Grant is liaising between river gods and pursuing a supernatural serial killer. (The UK edition will be titled Rivers of London.)
          Comments: Like it's protagonist Peter Grant, Midnight Riot is "slightly ethnic." Although its bones are born of the American hard-boiled detective fiction tradition, Grant's "master" Thomas Nightingale's old-fashioned manners and ambiguous sexuality give off Sherlock Holmes detective novel signals. This combined with a finely-described London setting and more witty in-jokes than the average American is likely to pick up on means that this novel is never boring. The urban fantasy, though nothing revolutionary from a genre point of view, certainly doesn't hurt either.
          Stylistically, Aaronovitch seems to be channeling the gumption Mark Gatiss (The Vesuvius Club), cut with the whimsy of Jasper Fforde (The Eyre Affair). Sadly, Fforde-ism wins the day here, and if there is a serious criticism to be leveled at the novel it is that it does not take enough risks. Nightingale, for example, starts out larger-than-life and finishes a senior citizen in need of a good hug. Nothing, come to think of it, is as punchy (hmm...appropriate adjective) as it first seems...which really isn't the way this sort of thing ought to go. It's all very convincing, but it's vaguely disappointing. Even so, I didn't want to Midnight Riot to end, which is endorsement enough for a mass market paperback original. Looking forward to (what I hope will be many) sequels!
          Rating: 6/10 - Started very strong but did not quite manage to sustain that momentum. Still worth reading, though.
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