The “Rivers of London” series has been on my TBR for a long time. It’s billed as X-Files meets Harry Potter in London, and you might as well call it RaRa Catnip and be done. A work assignment relating to Mysteries in May finally gave me the push to read it – well, to listen to the audio on Libby.
Peter Grant is a Probationary Constable, waiting for his long-term assignment after training. He’s hoping to be a detective with the Met, but the odds are not looking good. While on duty maintaining the perimeter at a particularly brutal murder, Peter is approached by an eyewitness…who happens to be a ghost. Thus is Peter dropped unceremoniously into the world of the uncanny. He is assigned to work with DCI Nightingale, who runs the equivalent of London’s X-Files: Nightingale catches every case with some kind of magical or otherworldly involvement. Nightingale is a wizard, and begins training Peter in the use of magic, while at the same time, they attempt to solve a series of related murders.
I have a soft spot for a good police procedural, and this one checked many of those boxes. Peter and Nightingale investigate, run down leads, interview suspects and witnesses. The system of magic here is also really interesting. Sir Isaac Newton is the father of magic, and magic seems to obey many of the laws of science. There are inputs and outputs, clear rules, and scientific application of principles.
I did, however, struggle a bit with the tone of the book. It was originally published in 2011, and I think it just hasn’t aged particularly well. Perhaps ten years ago, the following would not have made my hackles raise quite so much:
“The voice belonged to a plump, round-faced woman of the sort that develops a good personality because the alternative is suicide.”
But seriously – that’s pretty shitty. There’s also a fair amount of sweeping generalizations made with regards to English West Africans (now’s a great time to mention that Peter is biracial, and the author is white), Travellers, and many other groups. Again, maybe 10 years ago, those comments would have slid by under the radar, but here in 2022, they did put a damper on my enjoyment of the book.
I know that this is an extensive series (book #9 published this year), and I’d love to know if the tone has evolved with the times. Not sure I’ll be picking up the next one.