‘Moon over Soho’ by Ben Aaronovitch

Audiobook Review

Finished on 1/1/2019

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Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Mystery, Police Procedural, Peter Grant

Similar books: Dresden Files, Iron Druid

Highly Recommended. LISTEN TO THE AUDIOBOOK!!!!

Spoiler-ific review

I forgot how good Peter Grant is. I read book 1 around two years ago, and I really liked it. Book two is even better than what I remember, combining compelling magic with a hardknocked Londoner cop who frequently gets on the receiving end of the universe’s grim sense of humor. I think the Peter Grant series is the best Urban Fantasy mystery series I have ever read, being superior to most others due to the the book being so unapologetically British.

Why’s this book good? The book starts with a rash of deaths, all of which are explainable by natural causes. The only problem is that ALL OF THEM targeted jazz musicians. And the deaths go back decades, killing hundreds of people. Our hero Peter Grant is instantly alarmed by this, because his dad is the almost-famous jazz musician Richard “Lord” Grant and might be targeted.

What’s killing these people? I’ve got two words for you:

Jazz Vampires.

Yeah, it sounds silly. Silly AWESOME.

At the same time there are two more mysteries going on. First is a rash of men who have had their twigs bitten off by a monster known by the scientific name vagina dentata. Second there is a mysterious evil magician on the lose causing mischief and creating monsters. It’s up to Peter, his boss Thomas and his extremely disfigured sorta-girlfriend Leslie to pierce the veil of these mysteries and find the common thread between them.

Plot: Standard multi-mystery police procedural. But instead of trying to catch criminals, murderers and corrupt politicians, the heroes must catch monsters.

Pacing: Fast, almost too fast. I wanted Peter to spend more quite time with Leslie in the middle of the book to build up their relationship.

Characterization: Peter is a simply awesome protagonist. He’s colorful, street smart, occasionally a little stupid, more than a little cunning, and prone to being fallible. He thinks London is the center of the universe, and everything beyond it might as well not exist.

Leslie was disfigured in the previous book. I’m glad that instead of treating her like a disposable character and killing her/sending her away off screen between books, the author chose to bring her back and increase her value to the plot.

We are starting to see under the surface of Thomas’s mind, peering back far in time. We’re beginning to see that there’s more to him than just the earnest magical professor/cop, and that there might be a damaged person underneath.

Setting: There is no other setting where Boudicca, the celtic princess who fought against Romans in the name of British freedom, could be called ‘that red headed chavette.’ The setting of London contains warring river gods, a moonlit jazz scene and carnival horror shows of chimaric monstrosities. The setting here, combined with the characters, breathe new life into the Urban Fantasy genre, showing just how potent a subgenre it can truly be.

Constructive criticism.

As mentioned, I wanted Peter and Leslie to have a heart-to-heart at the midpoint of the book… or alternately have a falling out so they could come together at the end of the book. I liked the dramatic twist which occurred at the end of the book between the two of them, but up until that point they were on cruise control through the entirety of the story. I wanted something more from their relationship.

And that’s it. I have no massive complaints about this story.

One last thing. If you want to get into this series listen to the audiobook. The narrator adds a TON of virve and vivacity to the characters, easily making Peter sound likable and fun by sheer virtue of voice acting. Start with the first book in this series, ‘Rivers of London’ (UK title) or ‘Midnight Riot’ (US title).

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