Review: “Midnight Riot” by Ben Aaronovitch

Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.

I first heard about Midnight Riot from a friend. Snippets of the language were what initially caught my attention, a very British vernacular but more importantly, characterization that flowed from the character’s actions and words rather than the author telling us the story. I was immediately hooked.
Midnight Riot is what happens when you take a British cop and mix in wizardry. Think CSI meets Harry Dresden and you get Midnight Riot and PC Peter Grant. It seamlessly blends mystery crime thriller with urban fantasy in a way that’s unique and is effortlessly engaging. The world is modern day London where magic is real but not open to the public. But crimes committed with magic still have to be solved which is where PC Peter Grant comes in.
What I like best is that even if I didn’t know the author was English, I would still have known from the language choices and the knowledge of London. It is in the references the character makes and the descriptions that you can tell the author’s understanding and it is what makes the novel so compelling, so magnetic to read. Once I began reading, I had to finish the story as fast I could just so I could find out how PC Grant was going to figure out the solution to the crimes.
The characters, particularly Peter Grant, are real and authentic. He is a copper to his bones but that isn’t just one dimensional. We know he is bit of a nerd, that he has family, his likes and weakness and just like my favorite authors, Ben Aaronovitch has created a character and a world you care about, one that you want to visit over and over again. The story is a thrill ride with the bonus of magic. And if you like Harry Potter or The Dresden Files, I highly recommend this book as well. I know I already purchased the next book and am eagerly devouring the series as I write this.
Rating: 5 out of 5 wer-lights

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