I think I saw this series mentioned a while back on Cannonball Read and added it to my wish list but didn’t download it until my last trip to London. I quite enjoy urban fantasy series but most of them tend to start with the hero already involved in the magical world, even if they have no idea how little they know. Of course, then there are the other stories about magic and the supernatural, where a person who had no previous knowledge of them, suddenly has to interact with those force and spends a large part of the initial novel in denial, trying to come up with logical explanations rather than embracing the new status quo.
Peter Grant has completed two years of training to be in the London police force, and is about to be assigned to his full time department. His best friend Leslie May ends up in the murder investigation section, while he finds out he is about to be assigned to desk duty. Fortunately for him, there is a brutal murder in front of St. Paul’s Church in Covent Garden (not to be confused with St. Paul’s Cathedral), and while standing on guard at the scene, Grant discovers a rare ability. He can see and talk to ghosts. Rather than spending the next half of the novel in denial, he accepts the truth, and discovers there is actually a section in the police that deals with supernatural cases. It’s only one person strong and exists because of some type of agreement, but Detective Chief Inspector Nightingale argues that magical happenings have been on the rise so it’s time for him to train an apprentice.
The rest of the novel involves Grant, Nightingale, May and others trying to solve a string of violent murders and riot like out breaks that have some magical connection while Grant also starts his training to learn spells and the history of magic. Grant may not have past his science A-levels but he has a scientific mind so he keeps asking Nightingale questions that involve higher theory magic and normally wouldn’t be part of his training till years later.
He also interacts with some of the supernatural powers of London, in this case the Rivers and their embodiments, showing that not only does the magical department have to solve magic related cases, but they present the government and the Queen to help settle disputes between the local powerful entities.
The novel works well as an initial novel in a series – it wraps up its own plot/mystery while also introducing the reader to some of the broader world building, and dropping enough vague points to leave the reader curious about how much more is going on that they can continue in later novels.
I also enjoyed the slight sarcasm and the writing, such as when he describes a German family of tourists as Von Trapp impersonators, refers to the “slow, methodical patience of the drunk and terrified,” or the fact that Grant’s mother thinks it’s “inconceivable that anybody would want to eat anything that didn’t burn the inside of your mouth out.” I also enjoyed that this was another novel in which Covent Garden plays a large role.
It’s entertaining so far, so I’ll definitely read at least another novel or two to see if it lives up to its potential promise as a series or fizzles out. Also, I enjoy that the main character is a POC but not sure how that will end up playing out further into the series since the author is not, so hopefully he doesn’t end up turning any of the characters into stereo types.