Moon over Soho By Ben Aaronovitch is the second book in his Peter Grant series, which started with the very excellent Rivers of London. It was a re-read for me, and on my first reading I’d thought it not as good as the first book. I was wrong, or rather, I’ve changed my mind.
The first book started with Peter finishing his time on the streets as a probationary constable only to find he’s headed for a desk job doing paperwork so the real coppers don’t have to. He escapes this horrible fate by meeting a ghost and finding out magic is real and hidden in plain sight. The masquerade only works because people see what they want to see. Peter, and we along with him, get a quick trip through the looking glass as Peter becomes an apprentice wizard, and attempts to solve a murder.
Moon over Soho starts a few months after Rivers of London, and there is a lot about that I didn’t appreciate the first time around. Peter is actually a much better policeman that he thinks, not a prodigy, but a decent copper. He loves being a policeman, and it’s clear how his training shapes his thinking. If the first book gives us a look at a magical London, the second really gives us a look at Peter. I won’t go into more detail about the plot because it’d spoil the first book.
Ben Aaronovitch used to write for television, and it shows, in a good way. If you think of each book as an episode then you can see all these little hints setting the stage for several intertwining story arcs. The dialog is full of snappy British humour, police bureaucracy; and a consistent, well realised, magical London.
I have to admit I, initially, rolled my eyes at the main premise, and had to be talked into trying the series. I’m really glad I did read it because I loved it. Go on try it, you might like it as well.