Ben Aaronovitch - Rivers of London
Publisher: Gollancz | ISBN: 0575097568 | 2011 | EPUB | 400 pages | 1 Mb
Not a lot of "urban fantasy" is masculine these days - only Glen Cook's Garrett PI and Jim Butcher's Dresden files fit the bill, at least for some definitions of UF. This is more police procedural with magic than soft porn bodice-ripper with vampires/werewolves/demons/etc: I say that not to throw stones at anyone's favourite genre, just to make the point clear. There is no explicit sex, brief (but apparently spectacular) nudity, and while blood is drunk, its not really romantic and nor is it drunk by a vampire.
So…what is it about? Well, imagine being a young mixed-race copper in London, about to get posted to a dull dead end existance shuffling paper, while your glamourous almost-girlfriend gets a plum posting…and then a ghost gives you a tip-off and you discover a whole new world. This is a London of spirits and ghosts, groaning under the weight of history and geography. And someone is commiting murder by magical possession.
The London here is as much a character as setting, with the various rivers and streams all having human forms (the UK edition is called Rivers of London, the US Midnight Riot - both are appropriate for different reasons).
Most of all though there is an intriguing crime story which happens to involve ghosts, and the odd realistic tangent of dealing with a nest of vampires or settling scores between Father Thames and Mother Thames. Aaronovitch has written an story which runs along as a good pace, and you really don't want to put down.
The sequel, Moon over Soho, is out now, and the next volume, Whispers Under Ground, is out later this year. If they are as good as this, then there is a lot to look forward to.