Midnight Riot (Rivers of London) by Ben Aaronovitch
This is the first in the Peter Grant / Rivers of London series. I had read some hype for this series over the years. It’s right up my alley as it’s a series set in London and it’s urban fantasy. I realized while reading this that I’ve read a lot of urban fantasy set in London including Neverwhere, The Rook series, and Harry Potter counts too. Speaking of Harry Potter, this book had many references to that series. Too many and to the point of self-indulgence. As a mystery, it uses London as a setting like the Robert Galbraith books as well. It also reminded me of Doctor Who and I was not surprised to found out that author also wrote for Doctor Who.
This book had some interesting world building and it moved along, but there were a couple of aspects to it that were disappointing. At some points, I did not find it that well written. For example, the character development was lacking. I did not get a good sense of any of the characters. While Peter is written with some wit, I found it a struggle to really get to know him. For example, as a narrator, he sometimes felt inconsistent. There were too many conversations in the book that he seemed to accept and not investigate or pry further into. For example, his mentor Nightingale’s age. At times, he seemed like a clever copper but other times, he seemed quite thick or too distracted to notice things. He ends up having oblique dialogues with other characters and he doesn’t seem to follow up. Is this a character flaw? This character trait of being unobservant is somewhat alluded to in the novel by another character; however, it also felt like a cheap excuse to drop hints and be mysterious without much explanation until much later.
I just found some of the character development lacking. None of the characters get particularly developed especially the female ones: his crush Leslie, his other crush Beverely and the enigmatic Molly. I would have liked to know more about them. Furthermore, the author uses the word breast a lot when describing these characters.
Having said that, these books are quite easy to read and the actual mystery was ok. The best part is the London setting and the world building. I really enjoyed Nightingale training Peter in magic. If I look over the inconsistent character work, I could enjoy this series. I am aware there is a graphic novel series as well. I think that format would work well. I will look into reading the next novel and the graphic series.
Read June 25-July 1, 2020.