*Received E-Galley from Edelweis and Del Ray*
Regina’s Rating: 4 stars/Grade A:
It begins with a dead body at the far end of Baker Street tube station, all that remains of American exchange student James Gallagher—and the victim’s wealthy, politically powerful family is understandably eager to get to the bottom of the gruesome murder. The trouble is, the bottom—if it exists at all—is deeper and more unnatural than anyone suspects . . . except, that is, for London constable and sorcerer’s apprentice Peter Grant. With Inspector Nightingale, the last registered wizard in England, tied up in the hunt for the rogue magician known as “the Faceless Man,” it’s up to Peter to plumb the haunted depths of the oldest, largest, and—as of now—deadliest subway system in the world.
At least he won’t be alone. No, the FBI has sent over a crack agent to help. She’s young, ambitious, beautiful . . . and a born-again Christian apt to view any magic as the work of the devil. Oh yeah—that’s going to go well.
Damn, I love this series. And damn I love these characters – -Peter, Lesley, Molly, Nightengale and even the little dog Toby. Rarely does an urban fantasy book feel new.
There is something so easy going but yet scary about the world Mr. Aaronovitch has created. It is layers of normal society on top of layers of an unknown magical community. These communities co-exist and sometimes collide. This story begins right off from where Moon Over Soho left off. Lesley and Peter (Why do I want to type Rob and Cassie????) are living at the Folly and learning basic levels of magic at a painfully slow progress. Of course Lesley is better than Peter, who seems to have some good ideas and brave sentiments but execution is not always a strength of his. Peter = Ordinary Guy. He is not drop down gorgeous and he is not emotionally scarred or running from an ancient enemy. Just an average police officer with very average aspirations but caught up in a world that he never knew existed. I guess that is where the Harry Potter comparison comes in to play.
I continue to be somewhat bored during the actual police investigation part of these books. I love the what and the why of the mystery, but the procedure and the tracing down of the who and the how is not that intriguing to me. I read these books for the characters, the world and the humor. The humor written in these books is dry but witty observations and hilarious situations. At many points I was laughing out loud and there are portions of this book that are impossible to excerpt and demonstrate how funny they are because like many brilliant comedians and writers, Aaronovitch starts slowly, builds on the story and then bam! the funny punch part is delivered, so reading the set-up over several pages is very important.
The book isn’t completely lighthearted and it is not simple funny fluff, there is a darkness in this book and when bad things happen it isn’t simply wished away. Lesley continues to wear the very visible scars of her injuries earlier in the series and I so wish that all this magic could be used in a way to heal her.
Americans beware – -there is some very good natured mocking of a F.B.I. agent but it is damn funny.
I will leave you with a few excerpts from Whispers Under Ground so that, without spoiling, you can have a good payoff (i.e. laugh) for reading this review.
But this meant that in the event of a work related call, Molly would answer the phone downstairs and then inform me by silently standing in my bedroom doorway until I woke up out of sheer creepiness. Leaving a Please Knock sign on my door had no effect, nor did locking it firmly and wedging a chair under the doorknob. Now, I love Molly’s cooking, but she nearly at me once. So the thought of her gliding into my room uninvited while I was kipping meant I found myself getting very little in the way of useful sleep.
I went down the stairs to the main ticket hall. A bunch of guys in high visibility jackets and heavy boots were standing around drinking coffee, chatting and playing games on their phones. That night’s routine engineering work was definitely not getting done-expect delays.
We’d worked together before, which is probably why she hesitated before nodding to the constable.
I figured I’d rather have you check it now that have to call you in later. Like after breakfast, when I was awake. But I didn’t say that.
Kumar waited until we were safely out of earshot before asking whether I really was from the Ghostbusters.
“We don’t do UFOs and alien abductions,” I said, because that’s usually the second question.
The bit I found particularly enjoyable was when I accidentally opened a crate of fragmentation grenades that had been sitting in a puddle since 1946, and Caffey’s voice shot up two octaves as he told me to back away slowly. We had to have a couple of guys from the Explosives Ordinance Disposal Unit come and take them away. An operation me and Lesley supervised from the café in the park across the road.
Once she served us she took up a position behind me and Lesley where we couldn’t see her without turning. That’s a bit of a cop trick we don’t like it when people do it to us.
This is Special Agent Kimberly Reynolds from the FBI and we all went “ooh” the whole room we just couldn’t help ourselves. That didn’t bode well for the international cooperation because we were all bound to be extra surly to cover up the embarrassment.
I gave a clumsy half bow, and because that didn’t make me look stupid enough, clicked my heels for good measure.
The thing about being the police is that to do the job properly part of you has to enjoy mixing it up.
And for those of you who read this book – -the luge scene – -hilarious?!! I loved it. I couldn’t stop laughing.
You can read my badass review of the first in this series Midnight Riot here.
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