Over the past few months, I’ve been hanging out over at File 770. Mostly lurking, to keep up to date on the Hugo awards: Puppies, EPH, 4/6, and other inside baseball fun surrounding the awards. Inevitably, threads over there turn into book recommendations, because people interested in the politics of literary awards tend to be voracious readers. One of the recurring names was Ben Aaronovitch, author of the series known as Rivers of London (also the UK title of the first book in the series, which was slightly confusing–it’s Midnight Riot on the US edition) or as the PC Peter Grant series.
The best way to describe the series, for a US audience, is as Dresden Files in the UK, only better. Much, much better. I like Jim Butcher’s books–I’ve read all of his published novels, for realz!–but the PC Peter Grant novels are miles (kilometers) better. None of the continuity and copy-editing problems with the Dresden Files, and much tighter writing. Even the reflexive chauvinism of PC Grant is more self-aware and wry than Harry Dresden.
For those unfamiliar with either, both series are Urban Fantasy/Supernatural Mystery, with elements of romance and a slight noir influence. Both main characters begin as bumbling, reluctant detective types, but Dresden gains power and authority rapidly in Butcher’s books, while Aaronovitch puts more emphasis on the process of learning. PC Grant is very much a student, painstakingly earning every spell, while Harry Dresden is already an experienced wizard in the first Dresden Files novel, and rockets into improbability rapidly, coming back from the dead in the latter half of the series as a near-immortal.
Okay, perhaps I’ve soured a bit on the Dresden Files after the resurrection bit. Anyway, I really enjoyed the PC Grant novels, and since there are only five of them to date, I was able to cruise through the whole series, courtesy of my local library, in about a week.
PC Grant has a fun “voice” and the individual stories are pleasantly weird twists on the police procedural type of mystery. There’s also a larger arc that is building throughout the series, serving as a secondary plot-line to the monster-of-the-week of each installment. Big fun, highly recommended.
2016 Hugo Eligibility: #5, Foxglove Summer, Jan 2015 USA
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Supernatural Mystery, good to read on the bus if you’re not likely to miss your stop.