‘Whispers Under Ground’ by Ben Aaronovitch

Audiobook Review

Finished on 1/11/2019

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

Similar books: Dresden Files, Iron Druid Chronicles

Previous books in the series reviewed: Midnight Riot, Moon over SoHo, Broken Homes

Highly Recommended Police Procedural Urban Fantasy

Spoiler-ific review

I am nearly caught up with the Peter Grant series. ‘Whispers Under Ground’ is the third book in the seven book series, and is a classic murder mystery. When the son of a US senator turns up eviscerated in a London Tube Station, Peter Grant and the Folly is called in to investigate. The story which unfolds involves FBI agents, an underground dwarf colony, goblins, river goddess raves and sculpture.

Plot: This was a tried-and-true police procedural, my favorite variety of Urban Fantasy. Peter and Leslie team up with the Murder Squad of the London Met to puzzle out a whodunit of magical proportions. This story expands the scope of the setting a significant amount, revealing the ‘demi-monde’ of London, aka the secret society of faeries which exists just beneath the surface of human society. I’m leaving the plot section a bit light because this is a mystery story, and revealing much will impinge upon the twists and turns.

Characters: The team of the Folly, including Peter, Leslie and Nightingale in this outing, make return performances- and are joined by the FBI agent Reynolds and the magic-sensitive pre-teen Abigale in their adventures through the London tube and sewers. I liked the new characters, but I felt that the returning characters didn’t get much new character development.

One thing I am liking about this series is the fact that Peter isn’t suddenly an amazing wizard after just one year of training. He’s a slightly shabby apprentice wizard who knows three and a half spells, who really wants to spend his time being a copper but he’s forced to learn wizarding from a demanding master in between all the exciting murder mysteries.

Pacing: Solid, but not excellent. It’s never  too fast or too slow, but that’s not the same as good pacing. The author never has slower, character-focused moments.  It has fun, thriller-lite plotting, where the pace of the plot moves along at a steady clip but is tempered in speed by the character’s needs to be police and do the basics of police footwork (file paperwork, make arrests, report to officers, take calls, etc.). I liked this pacing style, but it could have been better.

Constructive criticism:

In retrospect of reading the series I’m beginning to think character development is this series’ weak point. All the characters are fun and deep, but they never change. Peter entered as a fun guy to be around, and is still a fun guy to be around. Nightingale is still an old-fashioned high class gentleman copper. Only Leslie has changed… but that’s spoilers for a future book.

This makes this novel similar to old school serial novels like Sherlock Holmes or Nero Wolfe, where Wolfe and Holmes stay the same throughout the entire series. When compared to something like the Dresden Files, where Harry Dresden does change, and in significant ways from book to book, this makes this lack of change seem weird.

Net total, fun book. Here’s my ranking for the series so far:

  1. Foxglove Summer
  2. Moon over Soho
  3. Whispers Under Ground
  4. The Hanging Tree
  5. Midnight Riot/Rivers of London
  6. Broken Homes

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