No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Sunday, December 20, 2015

2015/32: Moon Over Soho -- Ben Aaronovitch

‘There’s more to life than just London,’ said Nightingale. ‘People keep saying that,’ I said. ‘But I’ve never actually seen any proof.’ [loc. 1402]

Constable Peter Grant (who's also an apprentice wizard) is called in to investigate the murder of a jazz musician. Minimal research indicates that there have been a number of unexplained deaths in London's jazz world -- each occurring soon after a live performance. Peter's father is (or was) a jazzman himself, so Peter has an excellent source of historical detail as well as a handy stalking-horse.

The jazz murders are the focus of Moon over Soho, but there is plenty more going on at a higher, or possibly deeper, level: events that tie into those of the previous novel, Rivers of London. There's clearly an arc of narrative that spans the whole series: unresolved threads from the first novel are caught up -- though not necessarily tied off -- in Moon over Soho, and new aspects and characters introduced. I'm increasingly interested in the history of British wizardry, as filtered through the old-school elegance of Peter's mentor Nightingale: no doubt we'll be hearing more of that ...

Aaronovitch is good at horror (cat-girls, severed heads) but far from solemn: there are a few laugh-out-loud moments in this novel, and some profoundly poetic observations (checking out a murder victim's home 'to see whether there was anyone who loved him enough to kill him' [loc. 188]). Aaronovitch has a good ear for dialogue, and he gives Peter a refreshing blend of cynicism and openmindedness.

I'm tempted to binge-read Aaronovitch's urban fantasy series, especially now that I'm living in London again: I love the way that he ties together legend, history, street life and police procedural into supernatural crime novels that are profoundly rooted in London life. I suspect the glamour might fade if I overindulged, though, so I'll limit myself to one or two a year for now.

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