I was watching my twitter feed the other day, as I am wont to do. I saw Charles Stross send out a tweet in regards to Ben Aaronovich. I did a bit of a head desk and realized that I had not picked up his latest book. I also repeated the head desk maneuver when I has realized that I had never mentioned this fine series of books to the readers here on Ideology of Madness.
Allow me to make recompense for this gross oversight on my part and illuminate you, my gentle readers, in regards to his entertaining first novel in the series, Midnight Riot.
Midnight Riot is an urban fantasy/police procedural story set in modern day London. Peter Grant is a probationary constable on the London police force. He has dreams of becoming a detective when he comes off of probation. His dreams are dashed when he is assigned to Case Progression Unit which is the home of glorified paper pushes in his mind. Everything changes while watching over a crime scene late one night and he meets the only eyewitness to the murder. The only problem with the witness is that he is dead as well, but just for a much longer time. This strange meeting with a ghost on a murder case leads to Peter’s promotion to apprentice wizard under Inspector Nightingale who is the last remaining wizard on the Metropolitan Police Force. The person that decapitated the first victim is killing again and it is left to Peter and Inspector Nightingale to catch him before the body count mounts. In case a murder investigation was not enough, Peter has to begin his training as a wizard and help fend of a feud between the warring spirits of the rivers of London. All in a days work for the newest member of the Metropolitan Police Force.
I really enjoyed this book. It has the style of dialog that I enjoy which is to say quick, crisp, and quirky. There is a point in the book where Peter is talking to his friend about being an apprentice and the subject of Harry Potter comes up. I like this nod to other pieces of urban fantasy and it fit well within the tone of the book. The blending of the two genres is done well. You are given a clear idea of how the London police force is ran how it is very much rooted in order and reason. When the specter of magic and the unnatural are brought up the discomfort that the normal channels experience is palpable on the page. The author does an excellent job of avoiding the standard Hollywood pitfalls of creating an overbearing captain that hates the main characters for no good reason. Here, Peter and Inspector Nightingale represent the unknown to a system based on order which creates tension no matter what they do. Add to this a nice dose of levity and you have a book that is both quick to read but leaves you sad when you finish it as you want more.
Oh! The perfect elevator pitch for this book would be Harry Potter meets Hot Fuzz!
If you are looking for a new author to read in the urban fantasy genre, I suggest picking up Ben Aaronovich. Midnight riot is a great book and there are two more books in the series as well!