I almost didn’t buy this book. The name and cover don’t really imply this is a crime thriller come urban fantasy, I was imagining something more like The Bridges of Madison County with a name like that. Goes to show how important a good title and cover can be.
Anyway, after finally reading the description of the book, I took the plunge. Initially it was a thrill, I’m not sure if that’s because the last audiobook I’d been listening to was Bad Science. It was nice to hear some humour and be pulled into a plot with interesting characters and an interesting premise.
The protagonist, Peter Grant, is a copper in the Metropolitan Police, newly finished his probation he looks destined to be assigned to the Case Progression Unit, where ‘they do paperwork so real coppers don’t have to.’ That is until, Peter talks to a ghost while keeping an eye on a crime scene. This brings him into contact with Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, a wizard who seems to be the only member of the semi-secret paranormal division of the Met. The story then follows them as they investigate a murderer, seemingly from beyond the grave and Peter is plunged into a world filled with magic and where rivers aren’t just flowing bodies of water, but Gods and Goddesses with magical powers.
It was a nice thrill ride through the first half, but for some reason I felt it started to die away in the second half. I’m not sure if that was down to the gruesome nature of the crimes, the spiraling and confusing plot, or the fact that it suddenly got so serious. I did like the humour and the insights into being an actual copper (they sounded realistic to me) which added some gritty realism and seemed to anchor the story in reality a bit more.
I listened to the audiobook and special mention has to go to the reader, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, who does a wonderful job not just of telling the narrative, but bring the characters to life. There is no stilted, formal reading, no silly voices, just enough changes in his voice or delivery to allow you to follow each character and get a feel for them as individuals, in addition to the writing.
All in all I enjoyed the book, and will be digging out the sequel (Moon Over Soho).
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Reviewed: 15th April 2012