“False Value” by Ben Aaronovitch: Brilliant Characters

Now in hardcover, the eighth book of the bestselling Rivers of London series returns to the adventures of Peter Grant, detective and apprentice wizard, as he solves magical crimes in the city of London.

Peter Grant is facing fatherhood, and an uncertain future, with equal amounts of panic and enthusiasm. Rather than sit around, he takes a job with émigré Silicon Valley tech genius Terrence Skinner’s brand new London start up—the Serious Cybernetics Company.

Drawn into the orbit of Old Street’s famous ‘silicon roundabout’, Peter must learn how to blend in with people who are both civilians and geekier than he is. Compared to his last job, Peter thinks it should be a doddle. But magic is not finished with Mama Grant’s favourite son.

Because Terrence Skinner has a secret hidden in the bowels of the SCC. A technology that stretches back to Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, and forward to the future of artificial intelligence. A secret that is just as magical as it technological—and just as dangerous.

In “False Value”, the best part of Ben Aaronovitch’s writing is his characters. Peter Grant is authentic, compelling and deeply engaging as a character. Moreover, he evolves. In this book, Peter is more confident, less new to magic and more practiced. Even his relationships with the people in his life have changed. He spends more time with his girlfriend, which is appropriate given her status as an expectant mother. He’s also learned more about her life as a river goddess and some of those relationships impact his new job. All of the detail makes for strong character interactions and an amazing story.

The uncertainty surrounding Peter Grant’s future is another element that works well. Aaronvitch also utilizes two different times, especially at the beginning of the novel, to help build that uncertainty and the mysteries surrounding Peter’s new job, the people he’s surrounded with. All of the intrigue and mystery helps build suspense and makes for a thrilling story for readers to follow.

I certainly don’t want to spoil the story so let me just insist, this story rides right on the coattails of the past book and the uncertainty of Peter’s future is in part due to that novel. So, while you can read the book and enjoy it, a lot of the mystery and intrigue have a bigger impact if you’ve read the previous seven books. I happen to love series because of that very fact, you get to see events that build upon previous content and characters that learn and grow, which is exactly the type of story Ben Aaronovitch has built exceptionally well, ensuring the story is powerful. I can’t wait until the next book in the series.

If you like mystery, cops, and magic, this is an excellent series and a wonderful book, with fantastic characters. While I do recommend picking up the previous books in the series, I think readers will love the intrigue and the growth of the characters. I personally find I can’t put down the book.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.