Book Review: Rivers of London (aka Midnight Riot)

Ben Aaronovitch
Del Rey, 2011

So the reason there are two book titles on this book review is because the book was published as Rivers of London in the UK and Midnight Riot in the US. Both titles apply, as there are a couple different things going on in the book—namely, a plot involving the rivers of London and one involving, well, a kind of supernatural influence that is causing increasing bouts of anarchy in London, culminating in (you guessed it!) a midnight riot at Covent Garden.

The book is, in fact, the first of a series about Probationary Constable Peter Grant who, on the eve of being assigned permanently to paperwork duties, is instead roped into becoming an apprentice to Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale . . . Who happens to be a wizard tasked with the singular job of working on cases involving magic. Nightingale also happens to be really, really old (though of course he doesn't look it), and part of Peter's job involves bringing his "governor" up to speed on the latest technology. Like, you know, cell phones, flat-screen tellies, and the Internet.

Also in the mix: ghosts, gods, goddesses, and other creatures from outside the average.

Peter is a smart lad, too, aiming like Newton to find a scientific basis for all the supernatural phenomena in which he finds himself enmeshed.

Aaronovitch is probably best known for his work involving Doctor Who, for which he's written episodes as well as tie-in novels. However, I'd say this book, and the follow-up Moon Over Soho with which I'm now more than halfway finished, is his best work yet. Aaronovitch's cinematic background shows in his description; everything he writes in Midnight Riot is made visible in the mind's eye so to speak, and the basic premise of the series lends itself to potential television or movie adaptation.

A fast read (no idea of actual page numbers because I read it on my Kindle), fun, found it perfect for while I was traveling. To London, in fact. Though thankfully there were no riots while I was in town.