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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

"Rivers of London" by Ben Aaronovitch

A genre fusion novel: a police procedural murder mystery meets Harry Potter. It has a great first line: “It started at one thirty on a cold Tuesday morning in January when Martin Turner, street performer and, in his own words, apprentice gigolo, tripped over a body in front of the East Portico of St. Paul's at Covent Garden.” Then the narrator, a probationary constable of mixed heritage, meets a ghost. Later he becomes an apprentice wizard. Apart from the murders, he also needs to sort out a turf dispute between the rivers north of Teddington Lock, mostly boys under the control of Old Father Thames, and the girl rivers (such as the love interest, Beverley Brook) of the tidal reaches of Mother Thames.

The problem is that murder mysteries require strict rules and allowing magic in disrupts these and demands the formulation of new rules. So time has to be spent explaining why, with his master disabled, Peter Grant the hero can't enter through the front door of The Folly, the magical police station, but can get through the back. And why battery enabled IT devices were destroyed by magic. And I never really understood why Molly's bite led to time travel.

I was bemused, I was bewildered, but I was also bewitched. The novel is saved by a bravura writing performance in which the narrator wise cracks his way to the solution of the mystery and the resolution of the feud. Needless to say, there is a sequel, Moon Over Soho.

Selected wit:
  • Could it have been anyone, or was it destiny? When I'm considering this I find it helpful to quote the wisdom of my father, who once told me, ‘Who knows why the fuck anything happens?’” (C 1)
  • London is the pick ‘n’ mix cultural capital of the world.” (C 1)
  • They were loud to the point of constituting a one-family breach of the peace.” (C 1)
  • He was from Yorkshire, or somewhere like that, and like many Northerners with issues, he'd moved to London as a cheap alternative to psychotherapy.” (C 2)
  • I knew him by reputation, and the reputation was, don't fuck with him under any circumstances.” (C 2)
  • Questions would be asked. Answers would be ignored.” (C 3)
  • “It ‘s important not to rush the good things in life.” (C 5)
  • "The remnants of ancient villages that had grown together like spots of mould on a Petri dish.” (C 5)
  • Anyone watching would have taken us for a pair of feral estate agents marking out their territory.” (C 5)
  • The Fire Brigade recognise only two kinds of people at a fire, victims and obstacles.” (C 5)
  • Like a car engine turning over on a cold morning, I could sense something catching on my thoughts.” (C 5)
  • “I actually used the word ‘groovy’ and she didn’t even flinch, which was worrying on so many levels.” (C 6)
  • The dizzying speed of a bumblebee who’d met his pollen quota and was taking a moment to enjoy the view.” (C 8)
  • The trouble with the old boy network is you can never really be sure whether it's switched on or not, and whether it’s operating in your interest or some other old boy’s.” (C 10)
  • A sudden attack of culture snobbery is a common affliction among policeman of a certain rank and age; it's like a normal midlife crisis only with more chandeliers and foreign languages.” (C 10)

June 2019; 390 pages

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