I’d like to think that if I were a police constable on duty in London, and if a witness came up to me claiming to have seen a horrible murder take place, and if said witness patiently explained that he couldn’t come down to the station and give a statement on account of having been dead these past 120 years, that I would have the presence of mind to ask:
“Can you prove you’re dead?”
Now, I have to admit that I only decided to read this book because it is set in London and I am currently attempting to learn French and brush up on (English) English for my trip to Europe next year. But it was a good decision, and this budding series was a real find. The premise is somewhat Dresden Files-esque. Instead of having his own agency our hero works for the London Metropolitan Police, and instead of an entire ancient society devoted to magic for him to learn from there’s just DCI Thomas Nightingale. The occult baddies troubling and killing the (dare I say it) Muggles, fae entities and magical sleuthing are all there though. The book could be better. But Mr. Aaronovitch only has two novels out, both published this year, and shows all the signs of the potential for great things in the future (wow was that vague or what).
I love the contrast between the protagonist, Peter Grant, and his mentor Thomas Nightingale. Nightingale’s attitude toward magic is consistent with that of a typical practitioner of any skill learned from childhood. For example, spelling. Why does i come before e except after c? *Shrug* Who cares it just does. Peter on the other hand, as someone just being exposed to magic in his mid-20s, has to apply the scientific method to every new thing he learns, and it is often his inquisitive nature that leads to new methods being applied, new ways of sleuthing being discovered, and ultimately the successful conclusion of the case. Unfortunately it frequently feels like the student outshines the mentor, and I am rooting for Thomas Nightingale to have more scenes in future books.
I can’t help but see a lot of similarities between this series and The Dresden Files, but I am sure that as Mr. Aaronovitch writes more novels in this series that his world will become increasingly unique and memorable. Plus British humor.
Verdict: An Author to Watch.