Review: Rivers of London, Ben Aaronovich

February 13, 2015 Reviews 2 ★★★★

Review: Rivers of London, Ben AaronovichRivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
Series: Peter Grant #1
Published by Gollancz on August 2011
Genres: Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal, Urban
Pages: 392
Source: Library
Amazon • Amazon UK • Book Depository

"I used to be probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Service, and to everyone else as the Filth…"

Meet DC Peter Grant. He will show you his city. But it's not the capital that you see as you make your way from tube to bus, from Elephant to Castle. It's a city that under its dark surface is packed full of crime. And of magic. A city that you never suspected…

Gran't story starts when he tries to take a witness statement from a man who was already dead. And take him down a twisting, turning centuries' old mystery that reckons to set London on fire...


Peter Grant is a new constable in the Metropolitan Police, hoping to be assigned a decent posting. Instead, he takes a witness account from a ghost who saw a man have his head knocked off. This lands Peter a position working with Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, a paranormal investigator and wizard. Someone (or something) is committing violent murders all over London, and it’s up to the wizard’s new apprentice and his more mundane friend Lesley, plus their paranormal sniffer dog Toby, to find out what’s going on.

Rivers of London was published as Midnight Riot in the US. I’ve seen this book described as a funny British version of the Dresden Files. I’ve not read any of that series yet, but I can certainly say that Peter Grant has a fantastically dry sense of humour that balances out some of the more grim aspects of this story, even occasionally approaching Jasper Fforde levels of silliness. I loved it!

The action on the ground takes Peter Grant and friends all over London, from Covent Garden to Richmond, Purley to Hampstead and further up the Thames Valley to Oxford. Casual mentions of Time Team, Doctor Who and Blackadder gave it a rather British feeling on top of the actual location, but there are also other bits from Star Wars and other pop culture references.

The story reminded me of American Gods at times, with Peter meeting Mama Thames and Old Father Thames and all their tributaries as actual beings. Their existence was never really explained, but was an interesting side-story.

The parts of this book dealing with police business seem quite realistic, and also rather grisly at times. It reminded me that the real police often have to deal with horrifying situations (paranormal murders aside), and I have to respect those who are able to deal with such things on a daily basis. I certainly wouldn’t wish to.

There are actually already five books published in this series, with the sixth due to be released later this year. I do love a book set in a place I recognise, and I’ll certainly be trying to follow on with the other adventures of Grant and Nightingale.

four-stars – An occasionally dark but very funny police procedural urban fantasy.

Peter Grant series

  1. Rivers of London (Midnight Riot)
  2. Moon Over Soho
  3. Whispers Under Ground
  4. Broken Homes
  5. Foxglove Summer
  6. The Hanging Tree (2015)

Anni lives in Brisbane, Australia with her young family. She loves everything fantasy and science fiction and believes sleep is really very underrated.

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