‘False Value’ by Ben Aaronovitch

Overall Rating: Recommended  (How I Rate Books)

Personal Rating: Fun, semi- reboot for the series

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Genres:

Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Rivers of London

Similar books:

Previous books by the author/in the series I’ve reviewed:


Spoilers below. You’ve been warned!

This is book 8 in the main series of the Rivers of London series (there’s a graphic novel line as well, making up a canon but not vital side series).

This was an enjoyable addition to the series. After book seven ‘Lies Sleeping’ concluded a major series plot arc in which a major villain died, the series was left in an uncertain state. This book was a more relaxed story after the tense prior novel, exploring new concepts and introducing (potential) new villains.

But more than that, Peter the protagonist was forced to go out of his comfort zone in order to solve the case he was presented with. How so?

Well, MAJOR SPOILERS. IF YOU INTEND TO READ THIS BOOK AND DON’T WANT IT SPOILED, QUIT READING NOW.

You still here? Then let’s keep going. We start the book with Peter having been fired from the police department as a consequence of the death of the major villain in the previous book. He has to get a job, so he’s applied for one at a ‘silicon valley’ inspired tech company. They hire him to be a security guard/private eye.

Except he’s not really fired. He’s under deep cover, trying to find out what’s going on in the tech company. The longer Peter remains in his new job, the more he begins to suspect something magically suspicious is going on. The cybernetics company is the hub of a serious of magical crimes and mysteries, but they’re so politically powerful that they couldn’t just arrest everyone. So Peter had to go under cover to find out just what was going on.

Honestly, this twist got me. I had no idea that the author was pulling this twist. I honestly thought Peter was fired, so when it was revealed he was really under deep cover I was pleasantly surprised. The author did a very good job pulling this trick off.

Plot: Fun, but I think it needed a bit more. The plot had a ton of fun twists and turns, but I think it could have been a bit more cohesive. We have New York Librarian ninja wizards, magical helicopter drones, ai clockwork machines, mind controlled computer programmers, and cocky billionaires. It worked, but it needed more thematic cohesiveness to make the plot hold together better. As is, the plot felt a bit jumbled.

Pacing: Really excellent. It had fast moments, slow moments, and medium moments, all spread out evenly that you never feel bored or overwhelmed. Additionally the book begins medium-paced, so it’s easy to start reading (no slow start).

Characters: I liked Peter’s character development in this one- he and Bev have to deal with their oncoming pregnancy and debating the value of marriage. Nightingale and Molly don’t get as much focus in this one, which is a shame. Overall, however, I wanted a bit more, especially from the villains.

Concept and Execution: I liked the concept. This book’s concept is ‘Peter must go under cover in order to find out what mischief a London cybernetics company is doing using old magical equipment.’ I felt the execution needed some more work. The book had two villains, and only one of them got major time in the spotlight. The other villain was really, really, really important, but we never got a good introduction to them until the very climax… and by then it was too late.

Net total this was a fun book. I’d read it again, and I think this does a lot to add depth to the series.

My rankings for this series so far are

  1. Foxglove Summer
  2. Moon Over Soho
  3. False Value
  4. Whispers Under Ground
  5. Midnight Riot/Rivers of London
  6. The Hanging Tree
  7. Lies Sleeping
  8. Broken Homes

All eight of them are enjoyable and worth your time. Give this series a look!

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