Review | Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

An entertaining police procedural with some supernatural shenanigans: 4/5 stars.

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

What it’s about: a rookie Police Constable is recruited to the London Met’s small supernatural division (it’s just him and his boss) to investigate a series of bizarre violent crimes which appears to involve possession by an angry spirit.

That’s the short version. If you want more, I’ve put the blurb at the bottom of this post πŸ™‚

One more note: apparently in the US this book was re-titled as “Midnight Riot”. Interesting…


My take: This will be short to avoid spoilers!

Fans of “regular” crime fiction shouldn’t let the mention of ghosts, vampires and river spirits put them off this book. First and foremost this is the story of crime and the ensuing police investigations. The characters quickly accept the presence of supernatural elements and get on with their normal jobs, most of them slightly miffed that the supernatural elements are making said job trickier.

The main character, Peter Grant, is likeable and a good narrator. He’s witty and some of his observations are amusing. He’s self-depreciating and asks interesting questions which mean his failings as a police officer never become irritating.

The descriptions of London are great and the events which take place in central London will be particularly amusing for anyone who has visited, worked or lived in the city.

I took a star away from the book because the plot is just ok. The supernatural threat wasn’t dramatic enough. The events, while interesting, didn’t have me on the edge of my seat, even when the threat was supposedly at its highest. And I’m not sure the feud between the god and goddess of the Thames added to the book. I can only guess it was necessary for “world-building” purposes, laying important foundations for the rest of the series. Perhaps now that’s done and Peter’s training is coming along we can expect some really nasty villains to deal with in future installments… I’ll have to put the rest of the series on my TBR to find out (the average Goodreads ratings do edge upwards as the series continues). Alternatively, if any of you have read any of the rest of the series, please let me know!

Overall, a good read. Recommended to fans of crime and urban fantasy fiction, and London.


The blurb: My name is Peter Grant. Until January I was just another probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Service, and to everyone else as the Filth. My only concerns in life were how to avoid a transfer to the Case Progression Unit – We do paperwork so real coppers don’t have to – and finding a way to climb into the panties of the outrageously perky WPC Leslie May. Then one night, in pursuance of a murder inquiry, I tried to take a witness statement from a man who was dead, but disturbingly voluble, and that brought me to the attention of Chief Inspector Nightingale, the last wizard in England. And that, as they say, is where the story begins.

Now I’m a Detective Constable and a trainee wizard, the first apprentice in fifty years, and my world has become somewhat more complicated. I’m dealing with nests of vampires in Purley, negotiating a truce between the warring god and goddess of the Thames, and digging up graves in Covent Garden – and that’s just routine. There’s something festering at the heart of the city I love, a malicious, vengeful spirit that takes ordinary Londoners and twists them into grotesque mannequins to act out its drama of violence and despair.

The spirit of riot and rebellion has awakened in the city, and it’s falling to me to bring order out of chaos – or die trying. Which, I don’t mind telling you, would involve a hell of a lot of paperwork

Β Claire Huston / Art and Soul
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16 thoughts on “Review | Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

    • Exactly. I think the problem was that the author was trying to tell a one-off story while also setting up a series. This pulled the book in two directions and weakened the main plot (the crime specific to this book). So it’s good, but could have been better.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. My hubby’s from London, so I might give this one a try. Isn’t it funny when they market things with different names on either side of the pond, ha ha. We notice it a lot with foods, Lays versus Walkers, that kind of thing. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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