Order for £13.49 (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
Broken Homes, By Ben Aaronovitch. Gollancz, £14.99
Tuesday 24 September 2013
London is, like all cities, made up of layer upon layer of story, and not all of those stories are about the real and mundane. The Matter of London has for a long time been a staple of the literature of the fantastic. Among the hipsters and banksters, the rich and the poor, it is a city where shamans and wizards seem plausibly our neighbours.
In recent years, the London Fantasy novel has become one of the more interesting sub-genres. Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London sequence does this better than most, and is in some ways the most thoughtful of all. Broken Homes is the fourth of his magical police procedurals: the most inventive and emotionally involving yet.
For a long time, Nightingale was the last vestige of the magical section of the London police; indeed, one of the last wizards, as the result of wartime events when the magic workers of the Allies and the Axis had their last, mutually fatal, duel. Now he has two apprentices, Peter Grant and Lesley May. Lesley is slowly recovering from having most of her face ripped off in her first overt encounter with the magical world. Peter, Aaronovitch's narrator, seems to have fallen particularly foul of the mysterious Faceless Man, Nightingale's Moriarty, but has also developed a strong working relationship with the goddess of the Thames and her many daughters.
Aaronovitch has involved his squad with the theatres of Covent Garden, the clubs of Soho and the Underground; now, he takes us south of the River. Here, it's all about architecture. Those who are sceptical about the massive Modernist housing estates of the Fifties and Sixties as liveable environments will be made to think again – what if some of those architects had entirely other agendas?
As always, Aaronovitch is intellectually witty and often delightful in his sparky dialogue. He knows that his characters have to be put in serious jeopardy: this book includes a particularly devastating twist whose emotional logic is overwhelming. Aaronovitch is never less than entertaining, and here he proves he can break our hearts as well.
game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers
North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama
Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Lucy Hawking: Stephen Hawking's daughter writes impassioned open letter to Katie Hopkins about rights of disabled people
- 2 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 3 Russell Brand backs Ed Miliband: 'You gotta vote Labour'
- 4 General Election 2015: 14-year-old boy asks Nick Clegg – 'can you kill Katie Hopkins?'
- 5 Uploading pictures to find out how old you are gives Microsoft the right to post them wherever they want
Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to join show
X-Men Apocalypse: First look at Jubilee and Jean Grey played by Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner
American Horror Story: Hotel Angela Bassett set to make 'lots of trouble' with Lady Gaga in season 5
Game of Thrones season 5 episode 4 - review: Sansa is in danger of becoming another footnote in Westeros' bloody history
May the Fourth Be With You: The internet celebrates Star Wars Day with new Twitter symbols and memes
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
In defence of liberal democracy
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils