August 21, 2016

Rivers of London: A Recap and Review of a Super Fun Series

My friend Meghan told me a while ago to request Midnight Riot on audio from our library. So I did, and have been patiently working my way up the hold list. I blazed through the whole thing in just over a day about two weeks ago -- because Kobna Holdbrook-Smith does an AMAZING job of narrating all the different British accents in the story.

The basic premise of the series is that Peter Grant, a young constable with the Metropolitan Police, is shocked to discover that he's been talking to a ghost. And then things get even weirder, when a wizard shows up to explain to Peter that magic is real, and that he himself has latent magical ability. Soon apprenticed to the sorcerer, but simultaneously continuing his police work, Peter finds himself solving murders with "unusual" qualities to them.

The series is hilarious - full of tongue-in-cheek references to Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and other magical books; plus they're actually really good mysteries - with Grant narrating the typical way that police work is done in England (with some super amusing sarcastic asides). As his investigation into a series of murders goes on, he discovers links to Mama Thames (the goddess of the river), and her daughters - who include Fleet, Tyburn, and Beverly among others. (The sisters are all goddesses of minor London tributaries - hence the "Rivers of London" series - and British title of the first book. Not quite sure why they changed to Midnight Riot for the American edition.)

Book two, Moon Over Soho, found Peter and his sorcerer master investigating a series of deaths of jazz musicians. At one point he's theorizing why the musicians are dying, and he says he thinks it might be vampires who are feeding off the sound of the music. "You think there are vampires who feed off of jazz? JAZZ VAMPIRES??" I laughed out loud at the skeptical tone of voice. So great.

I'm 3/4 of the way through book 3, Whispers Underground, which is crazy, since I they're all around 11 hours long, and I stopped to listen to Naomi Novik's Uprooted in the middle! They really just are SO much fun on audio. I especially enjoy Peter's look at the world - his father is a white "cockney geezer" and jazz legend (which is partly how Peter got drawn into the events of Moon Over Soho), while his mother is a cleaning woman from West Africa, lending him a unique perspective on several different aspects of society in London. And, since I've visited London several times, I love reading about places I've been and streets I've walked.

If you like paranormal mysteries, or you're an Anglophile like me, you'll love these. And even if they're out of your normal comfort zone genre-wise, I really do recommend the audio versions extremely highly! I haven't read any in print, so they might not be quite as good without Holdbrook-Smith's superb narration, but I bet that they're still fun.

What audiobooks have YOU enjoyed lately?

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