My name is Peter Grant and until January I was just probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Service (and as the Filth to everybody else). My only concerns in life were how to avoid a transfer to the Case Progression Unit – we do paperwork so real coppers don’t have to – and finding a way to climb into the panties of the outrageously perky WPC Leslie May. Then one night, in pursuance of a murder inquiry, I tried to take a witness statement from someone who was dead but disturbingly voluable, and that brought me to the attention of Inspector Nightingale, the last wizard in England.
Now I’m a Detective Constable and a trainee wizard, the first apprentice in fifty years, and my world has become somewhat more complicated: nests of vampires in Purley, negotiating a truce between the warring god and goddess of the Thames, and digging up graves in Covent Garden . . . and there’s something festering at the heart of the city I love, a malicious vengeful spirit that takes ordinary Londoners and twists them into grotesque mannequins to act out its drama of violence and despair.
The spirit of riot and rebellion has awakened in the city, and it’s falling to me to bring order out of chaos – or die trying.
I hadn’t read the blurb for the book so of course was surprised at its ‘genre’ as it isn’t something I would normally read. Here we have a blend of modern day policing and detection coupled with the paranormal.
Upon graduating Peter Grant hopes to be a proper detective but ends up being sent to The Folly; to Inspector Nightingale as his apprentice in some kind of supernatural investigation unit. Fiction is about suspending disbelief and particularly when reading a supernatural novel that is intertwined with ‘real life’ never is it needed more. Other than Twilight this is my first experience of an adult urban fantasy novel and I did quite enjoy it. A mixture of all things magical: ghosts, vampires, water deities (hence the Rivers of London), feuds between Mother Thames and Father Thames, it’s all things supernatural with some clever, funny one liners written by an author who obviously knows London extremely well.
With his magical training including creating werelights and moving objects Peter sets about learning the spells but also sensing who or what are or used to be present at the crime scenes:
Vestigia – a trace, mark, or sign of something that once existed but has passed away or disappeared
One thing I did find a little odd in this book (surprising given it’s subject) is that Peter never questions the whole situation. Doesn’t bat an eyelid that he’s been chatting to a ghost witness or that the maid’s a vampire or that his master is probably about a hundred years old. He never gets freaked out or scared because I’m pretty certain most of us would be crapping our pants!
This is the first in the Peter Grant series, I believe there are 3 more. So if it sounds like something for you there’s plenty to enjoy. Think Harry Potter meets X Files meets The Bill and there you go! So if you like this stuff and Doctor Who and such like this is for you. But also if you like a murder mystery with a very different twist!
Connect with the author Ben Aaronovitch