Probationary constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London's Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he'll face is a paper cut. But Peter's prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter's ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny.
Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.
©2011 Ben Aaronvitch (P)2012 Tantor
This was the closest to the Harry Dresden books by Jim Butcher that I have come so far. It's a police procedural, with the protagonist being a British constable who discovers that magic is real and that some of the crimes he is investigating are really caused by things that go bump in the night. The book is set in London, by someone that really knows London. It has the feel of London, with the racial diversity, British slang, young Brit way of life (clubs, pubs, kebabs, curries, and flats with laundry on the floor), and a generous dollop of well-researched London history. I very much enjoyed the idea of the Thames and its "daughter" waterways being manifested by human-seeming spirits with distinct personalities and agendas. There is a lot of (dry or earthy) humor and humanity in the writing, which flows very naturally and is easy to get swept up in. It felt rather Dr. Who-esque. Like Dresden, there is an apprentice system for learning magic, and the protagonist is taken under the wing of an Inspector in a special "supernatural" wing of the constabulary.
What was somewhat lackluster: The pacing was odd. The story ran in fits and starts, with lags here and there. The teacher of our constable is injured and out of commission and thus unable to advise our hero for a big chunk of the book. The ending was rather far-fetched, involving a near-death experiment and time travel that seemed to come out of nowhere. After the ending, there is a bizarre episode after the resolution of the actual main plotline, which felt like the preview chapter of the next book. The main character is a likeable fellow mostly, but is quite juvenile sexually - commenting on cleavage and despite budding relationships with two female characters, is seemingly bumblingly teenage in his thoughts about them. The villian of the piece ends up to be re-enacting the old Punch and Judy tale, which is, quite frankly, ridiculous. It lessened the level of tension inherent in the solving of the crime for me. While I appreciated that the magic system was something that anyone could learn and the magical abilities were kept to a relatively conservative level in power and affect, our hero learned way too fast and too easily for the short period of time covered in the book.
3.5 stars, particularly for the easy, almost effortless style of the writing and the wonderful feel of the London setting. The narration was beautifully done, smooth, with all the right pacing, humor, and sarcasm, and excellent varied accents.
I liked the plot and characters. Could almost call it a British version of Monster Hunters Inc.
The snuffeling and noisy breathing of the narrator got to be a distraction.
All in all an enjoyable book but I won't be rushing out to spend my credits on the sequels.
Loved the story line as it was different from anything else I have read. will likely read more from this author.
Intriguing beginning! A pretty good supernatural police mystery that includes sciency magic, lots of characters that you know must have a story, that English dry humor, and good storytelling. But beware, the narration is fast and breathy so you have to pay attention and it may be a bit harsh through crappy phone speakers, but still worth the credit. I'm giving book 2 in the series a try.
If the Harry Potter series and the British crime drama series Luther had a baby, Midnight Riot would be their child. The storyline is clever and enthralling. The narrator breathes life into the characters. Each character has a unique voice that suits his or her personality and station in life, from Nigerian river goddess to a turn of the century, upper crust detective/wizard. The contemporary allusions to Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Dr. Who are hilarious and well-timed. I love this book and the entire series, and I would recommend them to anyone who secretly played Dungeons and Dragons in 6th-8th grade, watched Star Trek with his/her parents, wished he/she were as cool as Hans Solo and had a Wookie sidekick, and loved reading Harry Potter more than his/her kids.
Bought on recommendation of another listener and enjoyed very much even though not usually my type of story..writting was excellent as well as the execution. Will definitely look for more by this author!
Mid-range. I liked this book very much and will probably listen to more. But it isn't particularly deep or insightful. That said, the plot was creative, the characters very interesting. I learned a lot about Punch and Judy! Narration was good (narration is always important to me...I won't listen if the narration is bad).
I suppose the main character was my favorite. He was smart. I found it interesting that he could see and speak to ghosts, although we do not really learn why. It set the reader up for more in the series, where we will presumably learn more about this character.
The narration was good - very good. I probably would have enjoyed reading this book as much as I enjoyed listening to it, but I listen while I commute so I like different sorts of books for that purpose. The narration is very important to me - if it is bad, I won't listen. So this narrator was very good.
Well, it isn't really a moving sort of book. But I found the parts that described Punch and Judy very interesting. The scene in the theater where the female detective is taken over by the spirit is great. Great voice acting in this part!
This is a light book. I give it four stars all around because it was fun, the narration was great, and it was inventive, but it is not great literature. That said, I was very interested in the story. If you want a light read, then I recommend this book.
Kobna Holdbrook-Smith in general does a brilliant job of the narration, although his Australian accent is appalling. Aaronovitch's basic ideas about how magic works in the London police force and plot are good, but I really didn't need the occasional gratuitous bulletins about the state of Grant's penis. This didn't put me off enough to not want to find out how it finished, or to stop me from buying the next book, though.
This is a fun urban fantasy or detective of the supernatural series like the Felix Castor books. It uses the premise that the police hold the responsibility for dealing with magic-related matters, which works charmingly. Aaronovitch has a wide range of characters that all feel true to their backgrounds. Kobna Holdbrook-Smith does a great job bringing them all to life and just making you feel like you're pals with the delightful rookie cop protagonist. Fun, fun, fun!
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