Peter Grant is contemplating his future career in the Metropolitan Police when he sees a ghost. This ghost happens to also be a material witness in a beheading and leads Peter into poking around where he shouldn’t with his partner Lesley (who is destined for greater things than him). Soon Peter discovers there’s a lot more to London than meets the eye.
Rivers of London started off on the right foot. Despite it being urban fantasy, I found the police aspects refreshingly realistic. So often, crime fiction glamorises policing but this is quite matter of fact; Peter is looking at a career in administration. There’s some great dry humour amongst the pages too. The London setting is crucial to the plot; from the personification of the rivers to the history behind the supernatural killings. As Peter walks the streets he takes a huge interest in the things that happened, perhaps too much as he has often spent time reading a historical plaque instead of helping his colleagues in trouble.
It surprised me quite how violent the stories behind Punch and Judy were. I always knew he was a creepy little puppet and somewhere in my head I knew he hit his wife. But the story used here it really quite extreme. Maybe we should off Punch up next time anyone criticises children’s entertainment of today (OK I don’t think the puppet show was originally intended for children).
However it lost its way a bit after the introduction of Punch. The world building of an unseen London spawned lots of interesting threads that didn’t really go anywhere. Yes, it’s the start of a series and I do hope they get picked back up again in later books, but it felt a little like the Punch storyline was getting in the way of things I wanted to know more about. It all snowballed into near farce; perhaps that was the point, Punch is rather farcical after all.
I did enjoy the writing and am definitely going to give Moon Over Soho a try.