This is the third book in the Peter Grant/Rivers of London series, and so far my favorite. This is definitely a series you want to read in order. Each book has added on to the story and the Big Bad that is being built up flows through the books. But, if you’re looking for an alternate world (that is diverse and inclusive), this is a fun one to join.
It’s really hard to write about the plot without giving anything away. So much of the mystery is not figuring out the murderer, but just learning about the magical elements of the world Peter lives in. The stories all take place in modern London and its suburbs, but there is magic and other paranormal elements wound through it all. This story is much less gory than the first two in the series. I believe there is only one murder. The body of an American exchange student is discovered on the subway tracks. He was stabbed by a shard of pottery in which Peter can detect vestigia (defined in the books as a ‘magical echo’ of sorts). Peter and his cohorts (most notably Nightingale, his superior officer/teacher who doesn’t age, and Leslie, his partner who is learning magic too particularly in the hopes of getting back her face) spend a lot of time in the London Underground chasing and being chased by unknown creatures as they discover an entire under ground society.
These books are kind of all over the place with the magic stuff, but I like it. In this book there are water spirits, demon traps, and pseudo time travel. In the past books there was ghosts, possession, vampires, chimeras, and more water spirits (hence the Rivers of London series name). I don’t mind the stories bouncing all over and introducing new elements at every turn. It keeps the pace moving along nicely. Aaronovitch does a really great job of describing the underground world, and I was practically gagging at the descriptions of the sewers they trudged through.
One big thing I forgot to mention in my reviews of the earlier two books is that the whole story is told from Peter’s point of view. Peter is a fairly self-deprecating young man, and his point of view is an enjoyable place from which to experience the story. The reader only gets the clues and learns what is going on as Peter does, so it’s not really a ‘solveable’ mystery, especially since there is a lot of magic involved, and you only learn the rules of that magic at the same rate as Peter. I don’t know if people who regularly read mysteries want to be able to try and solve the mystery before the characters do or not. But if that’s your goal when reading, I think you will be disappointed here. I am typically a romance reader, and I only take breaks from that for mysteries like this, historical mysteries and some non-fiction. I do not care if I solve the mystery or not, so it’s not a problem for me. I don’t do ‘regular’ mysteries because I like to sleep at night, but the paranormal elements let me separate from the action and just enjoy.
I am already reading book 4, and have book 5 waiting in the wings.