Review of EBOOK Broken Homes – Book 4 of the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovich


I have read and enjoyed the other three books in this police procedural urban fantasy series set in London. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure, don’t start with Broken Homes, give yourself a treat and tuck into the first book, Rivers of London.

brokenhomesA mutilated body in Crawley. Another killer on the loose. The prime suspect is one Robert Weil; an associate of the twisted magician known as the Faceless Man? Or just a common or garden serial killer? Before PC Peter Grant can get his head round the case a town planner going under a tube train and a stolen grimoire are adding to his case-load. So far so London. But then Peter gets word of something very odd happening in Elephant and Castle, on an housing estate designed by a nutter, built by charlatans and inhabited by the truly desperate. Is there a connection? And if there is, why oh why did it have to be South of the River?

This excellent series has a number of distinguishing features that separate it from many other offerings in this crowded genre – for starters, it is a police procedural crime drama, told from the first person viewpoint of P.C. Peter Grant, who works for the magical division of the Met. Grant’s voice is wryly humorous and more than a tad cynically weary and – unlike many urban fantasy protagonists – he is fond and reasonably close to his family and regularly alludes to his parents and their opinions. He is also mixed race and casually defines most characters by their skin colour – including the whites. Grant is also good-looking, and like many physically attractive young men, rather spoilt and definitely wary of any kind of commitment. It also has left him with a rather cool, appraising eye regarding the opposite sex which isn’t a particularly pleasant trait – but rings so very true.  As a junior member of the team, headed up by Nightingale, his superior officer, Grant is regularly involved in departmental tussles as the cases stack up. Unlike many other urban crime mysteries, Grant isn’t permitted the luxury of working on a single case – not until he and Lesley get to go undercover in the hopes of flushing out their nemesis, the Faceless Man.

Aaronovich isn’t afraid to slow the pace right down in order to furnish his readers with a wealth of detail about various places in London, or exactly how the brutalist tower block that provides the backdrop for a chunk of novel is laid out. Some readers thoroughly enjoy these interludes, other find them exasperating. I have to say that I fall into the former camp – which is uncharacteristic as I am the first to have a good old moan when the adventure goes on hold while the alien planet’s weather system is discussed and described. Perhaps the reason I’ll cut Aaronovich such slack is that I particularly enjoy the strong Brit flavour of Grant’s voice, along with the cast of quirky characters. Although I could have done with more of Molly in this particular adventure, as she is one of my favourites and I want to know exactly who she is and more about her backstory. All we got was another slice of her odd cuisine and the fact that she is secretly using Peter’s computer in this book.

So is Broken Homes a worthy addition to this strong series? Absolutely. The major twist near the end was a plot development that I certainly didn’t see coming – and had me more than a little winded, and wanting very much to know how it will play out. So I will definitely be getting the next book in the series – which I’ll have to negotiate with Himself as to who will read it first.

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