BooksOfTheMoon

Rivers of London Volume 6: Water Weed

By Ben Aaronovitch

Rating: 3 stars

I don’t think that I’ve got much comment to make on the 6th Rivers of London graphic novel. This one concerns a cannabis operation, one that has worrying vestigia attached to the final product. It’s practically a Peter one-hander; Nightingale is in some scenes, but doesn’t do much, Beverley and her two younger sisters get a bit more screen time, but poor Molly gets practically nothing, and Guleed doesn’t appear at all.

The art is consistent, and has been since the start of the graphic novel series. This is the first one that I’ve seen with Aaronovitch credited only as ‘creator’ while Andrew Cartmel is the sole writer. I don’t think it made a difference, I always find Peter’s narrative voice somewhat muted in the graphic novels anyway.

So a fun, if short, read that’s enjoyable but doesn’t offer any more insight into the characters.

Book details

ISBN: 9781785865459
Publisher: Titan Comics
Year of publication: 2018

Lies Sleeping (Peter Grant, #7)

By Ben Aaronovitch

Rating: 4 stars

Martin Chorley, aka the Faceless Man, has been unmasked and is on the run, with the full force of the Metropolitan Police bearing down on him. But he still dreams big and Peter Grant and the team have to bring him down before his plans, somehow involving the malevolent spirit Mr Punch, come to fruition.

Blimey, I missed Peter Grant! I know I always go on in my reviews of the comics about how much I miss Peter’s narrative voice, but I’d forgotten just how much I’d missed it until I got a full length novel again. And what a novel. The momentum behind the Faceless Man plot has been building for some time, and this is the payoff. Aaronovitch balances action and character very well as we get reacquainted with old friends (Nightingale, Guleed, Molly all present and correct) as well as new ones. Abigail is getting more screen time as she’s becoming the Folly’s resident archivist and librarian. Peter and Nightingale are keeping her out of the front line for now, but it’s only a matter of time before she gets in over her head (and I can’t wait to see how she gets herself out of it!).

There’s a good depth of research that’s gone into this, mixing up Saxon, Roman and ancient British history and myth and pulling them together into a cohesive story that’s a lot of fun to read. The various relationships all rub along nicely. Nightingale and Peter; Peter and Beverly; and, of course, Peter and Lesley. Their frenemy relationship has felt like the core of the books for some time now and this volume just adds more depth and complexity. I’m looking forward to seeing where they go from here.

My edition also came with the short story Favourite Uncle at the end. This is a fun little story, narrated by Abigail, set at Christmas about some of those activities on the side that she doesn’t tell Peter and Nightingale about.

Book details

ISBN: 9781473207813
Publisher: Gollancz
Year of publication: 2018

Rivers of London Volume 5: Cry Fox

By Ben Aaronovitch

Rating: 3 stars

This fifth graphic novel of Peter Grant’s adventures concerns some posh scum who re-enact the film A Very Dangerous Game for fun (i.e. hunting, but with the prey being humans, not foxes), except they choose Peter’s cousin Abigail as their next victim, which goes about as well as you’d expect.

There’s some interesting stuff here, including the involvement of Reynard Fossman, who’s out for revenge against the Folly, but there’s little in the way of development here, either for the characters or for the world (although there’s a nice section with folklore of foxes throughout the world at the end, alongside the usual ‘Tales From the Folly’ and issue covers). Overall, it felt like a novella, a nice snack, but not as satisfying as a full novel. The main issue I had with the storytelling was that there never felt like any real danger for any involved. I don’t normally have a problem with that, but that, combined, with the short read, just felt a little underwhelming. Well, maybe not underwhelmed, maybe just whelmed.

I appreciate that comics are hard work to do, but I think that if they did want to continue producing them alongside the prose, Aaronovitch et al could risk tackling longer storylines. That way, the compiled graphic novel would have more depth to it (and take longer than half an hour to read).

Book details

ISBN: 9781785861727
Publisher: Titan Comics
Year of publication: 2018

The Furthest Station (Peter Grant, #5.5)

By Ben Aaronovitch

Rating: 3 stars

While I’ve been wanting more written Peter Grant for a while now, and while this novella was fun, it didn’t entirely fill the gap. It’s a story about ghosts on the Underground, ghosts whose message may be a matter of life and death. But it just felt a little slight to me. This could have been expanded to be a whole novel, there’s plenty of ideas here, and the compressed format didn’t really give Peter a chance to shine.

I’m moaning here, but it was still fun. Peter’s voice is still there and is still a lot of fun. Perhaps a bit lighter on the pop culture references than of late, and lacking the acerbic wit of DC Guleed to bounce off, but still there and still Peter. I’ll be interested to see what happens with Abigail, who’s already an intern at the Folly here, and it looks like she may become more later.

Book details

Publisher: Orion
Year of publication: 2017

Rivers of London, Volume 4: Detective Stories

By Ben Aaronovitch

Rating: 4 stars

This volume of the ‘Rivers of London’ graphic novel series takes a slightly different format to the previous ones. Rather than being a single story, it’s a set of short stories, with the overarching narrative of Peter taking his detective exam and these being episodes from his history being told to his examiner (something which works well for comics – as each story is an issue long). This format does let us move around in time, and some of the stories are being told when Lesley May was still Peter’s partner, not his enemy.

The focus of these stories is very much on Peter, with the supporting cast taking a background role (poor Molly is relegated to a single walk-on part – even Toby gets more screen time than she does!). This is understandable given the framing narrative but I did miss Nightingale, Guleed and the rest. One thing I did very much like about this one is more time inside Peter’s head. It can’t be as much as the books, but again the format of this story comes to our aid, as these are being told in retrospective, so Peter knows the outcome and is relating the story.

The art is still lovely and Sullivan and Guerrero have become more assured as the series has progressed. The only major complaint is just the usual one – can we have more written word Peter Grant, please? I like the graphic novels and all, but I’d like to see the main plot being progressed some too.

Book details

ISBN: 9781785861710
Publisher: Titan Comics
Year of publication: 2017

Rivers of London: Black Mould

By Ben Aaronovitch

Rating: 4 stars

Another fun outing for PC Peter Grant in sequential art storytelling format. This time, DC Guleed (hurrah, she’s back, I did miss her in ‘Night Witch’!) accidentally runs into some “weird bollards” while checking out a house as a favour to a friend so calls in everyone’s favourite nerd/copper/apprentice.

This volume felt quite light and fluffy compared to the child kidnap of the previous volume but a lot of fun. I particularly liked the return of Tom Debden from the first graphic novel and Nightingale having to deal with a little bit of fallout from that, which was sort of hilarious. No sign of Lesley or the Faceless Man this time round, which I’m perfectly comfortable with. Keep Lesley in particular for small doses, she’s much more effective that way. Mind you, I’d have preferred more Molly, but ain’t that always the case. And when she does show up it’s in a hilarious and very cute ‘kitty’ night shirt. Good show, Aaronovitch et al, good show!

The art is still consistently good; cartoony but carries the tone of the story very well. There’s a great sequence that’s a few pages long and entirely silent, being carried by the art. Creepy and very effective.

As much as I enjoy the graphic novels, I do sort of wish Aaronovitch would space them out a bit more and spend more time on the novels. I miss being inside Peter’s head more, with his first-person narrative. Of course, I’ll keep buying them, but it would be nice to get more long-form written-word storytelling.

Book details

ISBN: 9781785855108
Publisher: Titan Comics
Year of publication: 2017

Rivers of London: Night Witch

By Ben Aaronovitch

Rating: 4 stars

In the second of Peter Grant’s visual outings, we see a kidnapping, the Russian mafia and the lengths a parent will go to to get their child back. The art here is, again, rather lovely. I find the style really suits the series, so top marks to Lee Sullivan. The story is fairly slight, once again, and readable in a quite short space of time. I found it didn’t hang together hugely well on first read, although a re-read did definitely help (and it’s short enough that you can read it a couple of times in as many hours). The graphic novel format does mean that we’re outside of Peter’s head for most of the time, which is a shame, as so much of the joy of the series for me comes from his narrative voice. But it does mean that when we do get a “Peter Grant moment”, it’s a real joy.

This one is set sometime before [book: The Hanging Tree], but probably after [book:Foxglove Summer]. Alas, DC Guleed, along with most of the regular cast, is missing from this volume, although we do get a brief scene with Dr Walid. I’ve come to really like Guleed over the last few books although a certain other former partner of Peter’s does make an appearance.

So, like I said, it’s slight, but a lot of fun. And the way the Russians manage to “persuade” Nightingale is clever.

Book details

ISBN: 9781785852930
Publisher: Titan Comics
Year of publication: 2016

The Hanging Tree (Peter Grant, #6)

By Ben Aaronovitch

Rating: 5 stars

Peter Grant is back in London and back on form. When Tyburn calls him up to call in a favour by keeping her daughter out of any fallout from a drug death, Peter is forced to encounter another alien species: the rich. Investigating the death, involving wealth, power and poor taste in furnishings Peter, along with his usual backup crew, and some new additions, expand the world of the river goddesses with flair, pizazz and the appropriate forms, to be filled out in triplicate.

I’d forgotten just how much I missed Peter’s narrative voice. He’s a brilliant narrator; the combination of sarcasm, intelligence and geekery makes him a joy to read. Much kudos to Aaronovitch for keeping that voice just right. After the slightly disappointing, rushed ending to [book: Foxglove Summer], I was glad to see better pacing here, with an ending that doesn’t make me feel cheated. Yes, the ongoing plot involving the Faceless Man is still ongoing; and yes we only get tantalising glimpses of wider British magic, involving Lady Helena, but the plot of this book is still tied up and the Faceless Man plot has moved on, with promises of more revelations to come. One of the few disappointments in the book, actually, is that now that the Faceless Man has been identified, he turns out to be just another common, or garden, kipper. Just an old racist in the Nigel Farage mould, dreaming of a time while Britannia ruled the waves.

I did find it difficult to keep track of the various rich teenagers and their Responsible Adults, although that might have been part of the point. Police work, as Peter keeps telling us, is mostly about banging on and on and getting right into the detail. Still, with the involvement of her daughter, we do get to see a different side to Lady Ty, and her last scene with Peter is actually quite touching, as she tries to do the Big Sister thing for Beverly.

The supporting cast are all present and correct, complete with extended cameo from Lesley May. Peter’s new partner, Sahra Guleed is an interesting character in her own right, and, unlike May, happily avoiding handling actual magic, although as the one who’s been involved more of the Weird Stuff than anyone else outside the Folly, she’s now the unofficial third in command and has had some nice character development of her own.

So Aaronovitch is back on form and this book was worth the wait. Still huge amounts of fun with brilliant characters, I’ve already ordered the next graphic novel to help tide me over until the next full novel.

Book details

ISBN: 9780575132559
Publisher: Gollancz
Year of publication: 2016

The Home Crowd Advantage (Peter Grant, #1.5)

By Ben Aaronovitch

Rating: 4 stars

Nice wee short story set early in the Rivers of London sequence, during the London Olympics of 2012, this sees Peter having to deal with History and Conscience while Nightingale is away. As always, Peter’s distinctive narrative voice is a joy to read and it has the usual mix of modern policing and utter geekiness that I enjoy so much. This also widens the world a little bit, with some details of French magic and what happened to it.

Book details

Year of publication: 2014

The Nightmare Stacks (Laundry Files, #7)

By Charles Stross

Rating: 4 stars

The Laundry Files rumble on and volume 7 is narrated by Alex the vampire PHANG, who first made an appearance in The Rhesus Chart. Here, Alex is sent to Leeds, along with his friend and mentor Pete the Vicar, to scout for a future northern headquarters for the Laundry. What he doesn’t know, is that the city has already been infiltrated by the vanguard of an invasion from another reality and that CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN isn’t the only threat in that spectrum.

Well blimey! I swear that every Laundry book will be the last one that I read (I’m really rather squeamish and horror isn’t my preferred genre. The Laundry got its tentacles into me when it was still masquerading as humorous urban fantasy), and yet every one has enough in it to make me want to read the next. And blimey, what a punch this one made. The last third or so of the book is a full scale running battle, told from multiple viewpoints, as the invading force tries to attack the Laundry headquarters at Quarry House in Leeds, Alex off on his own, probably suicidal, side track and a disastrous decision to trigger MAGINOT BLUE STARS in an urban area.

It really felt like the invaders had the upper hand a lot of the time, so every time the human defenders got a score in (by accident or not), it was a punch in the air moment. Stross is really good at these battles (partly because he’s a military hardware buff in real life, so he knows his Starstreak from his ASRAAM. But also partly because he splits up the viewpoints, giving us multiple viewpoints on to the action, juggling the threads very well.

Back at a human scale, it was nice to see Pinky and Brains back, and getting more screen time this time – Pinky even going out into the field. And the romance between Alex and Cassie is very sweet and awkwardly believable (the scene with meeting the parents in particular was made of cringe). It was a way to keep the focus human even as Leeds is crumbling around them.

So yeah, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and Alex is a great new character, although I do miss Bob and his very informal narrative tone (he’s back next year’s The Delirium Brief, though). Oh, and it’s slightly hilarious to see just how much awe that he and Mo now inspire in the likes of Alex. He regards Bob (sorry, Mr Howard), the way that Bob regarded Angleton. So I, for one, am looking forward to seeing how the Eater of Souls 2.0 copes, after tentacled horrors from beyond spacetime, with being grilled by Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight.

Book details

ISBN: 9780356505343
Publisher: Orbit
Year of publication: 2016

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