For several years now, I have studiously avoided any and all of the current books involving vampires, ghosts, werewolves, spirits and similar creature..Show More »s in mystery and other genres. I didn't read horror stories, period.
Then I read some member reviews of "Midnight Riot," and thought I'd give it a try, despite the dead, undead and non-human monsters. What a revelation! This book gives the reader a rollicking ride through modern day London in the course of a murder investigation. It is fast-paced, engrossing and hilarious. I laughed out loud repeatedly when listening. In addition, I learned a bit of history about various sites in and around London.
Constable Peter Grant, having just finished his probationary period with the Metropolitan Police, interviews a witness to murder, only to find out that his witness is the ghost of a man who died 120 years before. As a result of his being able to see and converse with the ghost, he is recruited by Inspector Thomas Nightingale to work in a unit (made up of only Nightingale and Peter) whose "beat" is anything non-human, undead or uncanny. Turns out Nightingale is a wizard, and Peter becomes his apprentice. Now, sweep all ideas of Harry Potter out of your mind -- this is not a Hogwarts type of story.
As Peter, Nightingale and Constable Lesley May, a friend of Peter's, work their way through the mystery. they encounter a great deal of violence, a number of River Spirits, ghosts, vampires, and general confusion. Peter Grant is a lovely character, who is smarter than he realizes, and who looks at London and its residents with a jaundiced eye and very ironic comment.
Other reviews give a much more detailed description of the book, and I refer you to those other descriptions. I want to talk about the narrator, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith. He is perfect! He gives Peter's character just the right accent and attitude, that of a young mixed race man from a working class background who has a breezy attitude and many a smart remark to make. Then he makes Nightingale a well educated gentleman of at least a century earlier. Male and female voices, London accents, German, Indian, Middle Eastern, African, Caribbean and Japanese voices are all wonderful. KHS brings the book to life beautifully.
In his second adventure, Peter Grant pursues the killers of jazz musicians (by jazz vampires) and we learn more about Peter's father, a jazz lege..Show More »nd. While his wizard training continues, Peter encounters chimeras, specialty vampires, and the Faceless Man (an evil wizard). This book is, if possible, even more fun than the first Peter Grant book.
Aaronovitch continues to create wonderful characters, each of whom has his or her own view of the world and the things that happen to them, often ironic or sarcastic but always either amusing or laugh-out-loud funny! Again Kobna Holdbrook-Smith gives a wonderful performance of the text. From cheeky working-class Peter to Oxford Dons to upper-class wizard Thomas Nightingale, the accents and inflection are perfect (at least to this American ear), and his female characters are as believable as the male characters. In addition, he does a creditable job of singing snatches of 40's and 50's jazz songs.
This series is one of the best discoveries in my reading life to come along in quite some time. I have already read the third of the series, and I pray that there will be many more installments.
This third book in the Peter Grant series is the best so far. Peter now has a friend and co-worker in the Folly, Constable Lesley May (former victim ..Show More »of magic and now learning to be a practitioner). While their boss Nightingale is searching for the illegally trained and unlicensed wizards in Britain in order to catch the "Faceless Man," Peter and Lesley encounter ghosts, semi-feys, fairies, elves, goblins, River spirits, a rogue FBI agent from the US, and all the regular (ordinary?) characters.
As usual, the story is told with great panache, wit, and humor, providing many laugh-out-loud moments. Author Ben Aaronovitch displays in these books an almost unbelievable breadth of imagination, and delights me when he comes up with a really fresh twist on the existence and coexistence of magical and non-magical elements in current-day London. His inventiveness and humor sometimes call to mind the very different, but also wildly inventive, humor of Jasper Fforde in the Thursday Next novels.
I am already impatient for the next installment of Peter Grant's adventures. Long may he live to have many, many more.