Peter Grant and his partner of sorts, Lesley May, have to do a lot of explaining themselves. Not just their actions as members of The Folly, the (tiny) branch of the London Met that deals with “unusual circumstances”, but also every reference that they make about the modern world. Why is that? They’re making these references to The Nightingale; their commanding officer who has been fighting the bad guys (thieves, murderers, Nazis) since before WWII.
Before WWII? But how? Well, Nightingale stopped aging in the 1970s, and has proceeded to de-age since then. He was born before WWI, served in WWII, has been single-handedly (until recently) dealing with all of London’s “unusual” (read: magic) activity, and has been “about 40” for quite some time now. His home and office, The Folly, was last updated in the 1930s. His housekeeper is some sort of Edwardian vampire. He knows quite a bit about the magical world, and the world of the last century, but he has a lot of catching up to do.
Hence, Peter and Lesley attempting to explain the mundane. They have uncovered a suspicious bit of building on top of an already suspicious building. They are trying to explain the construct to Nightingale, who is a bit lost at first.
“… I think it’s designed to flower open like a Chocolate Orange.”
Me and Lesley then had to explain Terry’s Chocolate Orange to Nightingale.
“Not unlike a practitioner’s hand opening to reveal a werelight,” said Nightingale.
“Not unlike at all,” I said. Yeah, exactly like that I thought.”
They needed to put the ball back in his magical court; which they frequently need to do while explaining cell phones, Harry Potter, Doctor Who, and the countless other references that they make throughout the day.
There is a lot of talk of Hogwarts. They explained a bit to old Nightingale at the beginning of the series, and with each subsequent mention of Hogwarts and the wizards of that world he becomes more frustrated and dismissive.
Don’t be fooled, reader: we have definitely crossed into Hogwarts territory. This is the fourth entry into the Rivers of London series, but this is the Peter Grant equivalent of The Prisoner of Azkaban; the book that busted the Potter universe wide-open. There had been action throughout the series showing much more to the world than the approach of one-year-at-a-time-follow-the-House-Cup, and Prisoner of Azkaban threw everyone- characters and readers alike- into the much wider and wilder world of the dangers at hand. Broken Homes has arrived to do the same thing to the Grant universe; what had slowly built from a crime-a-book premise began to really take hold and morph during Whispers Under Ground, and Broken Homes has taken that premise and smashed it to pieces.
We are in very deep now, and those who can’t swim are drowning. Those who are prepared have boats. Those who are clever boil the sea away.