Moon Over Soho (PC Peter Grant Book 2) by Ben Aaronovitch

As I noted last month, I have been listening to the Rivers of London or PC Peter Grant series by Ben Aaronovitch during my daily commute to work.  It has been a great choice for audio-book listening. The narration is simply fantastic. And this series works perfect for the commute; entertaining and fast moving but not too complex or dense (which is hard to process when you are driving).  It is great blend of urban fantasy, police procedural, and mystery. Peter Grant is a strong lead character but there is a nice mix of secondary characters, including London itself, and with enough action to keep the plot moving. Highly entertaining.

Moon Over Soho is book two:

moon-over-sohoBODY AND SOUL

The song. That’s what London constable and sorcerer’s apprentice Peter Grant first notices when he examines the corpse of Cyrus Wilkins, part-time jazz drummer and full-time accountant, who dropped dead of a heart attack while playing a gig at Soho’s 606 Club. The notes of the old jazz standard are rising from the body—a sure sign that something about the man’s death was not at all natural but instead supernatural.

Body and soul—they’re also what Peter will risk as he investigates a pattern of similar deaths in and around Soho. With the help of his superior officer, Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, the last registered wizard in England, and the assistance of beautiful jazz aficionado Simone Fitzwilliam, Peter will uncover a deadly magical menace—one that leads right to his own doorstep and to the squandered promise of a young jazz musician: a talented trumpet player named Richard “Lord” Grant—otherwise known as Peter’s dear old dad.

If there is a weakness to the series it is the rather sprawling nature of the stories;  the plot is not particularly tight nor the mystery particularly suspenseful. It is the journey that make the book not the destination or route.

The hook is what holds the reader: a modern detective working out how to assimilate the existence of magic into his understanding of the world and do his job well.  Peter Grant’s background, perspective and personality give it its unique flavor.  And his, and the author’s,love of London also comes through.

What also make the series enjoyable is something that all series offer: an opportunity to build on the characters and history of previous books.  Characters, ideas, historical events, etc. all get further unpacked and developed as the series move forward.  Relationships develop, shift and evolve and the reader learns more about the chain of events that led the protagonist and central characters to this point.  Twists and turns leave you guessing what lies ahead on this path.

All this makes the series enjoyable but leaves each book less compelling as a stand alone novel from my perspective.  Listening to them as a serialized radio drama of sorts has been enjoyable but I am not sure any of the books would be a great read by itself.

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