Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch

Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern


The song. That’s what London constable and sorcerer’s apprentice Peter Grant first notices when he examines the corpse of Cyrus Wilkins, part-time jazz drummer and full-time accountant, who dropped dead of a heart attack while playing a gig at Soho’s 606 Club. The notes of the old jazz standard are rising from the body—a sure sign that something about the man’s death was not at all natural but instead supernatural.

Body and soul—they’re also what Peter will risk as he investigates a pattern of similar deaths in and around Soho. With the help of his superior officer, Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, the last registered wizard in England, and the assistance of beautiful jazz aficionado Simone Fitzwilliam, Peter will uncover a deadly magical menace—one that leads right to his own doorstep and to the squandered promise of a young jazz musician: a talented trumpet player named Richard “Lord” Grant—otherwise known as Peter’s dear old dad.

PC Peter Grant is back, and I really enjoyed this second book in the Rivers of London series. This book picks up pretty much where the first book finished, but I was really pleased to find it stood rather well by itself. The remaining ramifications from the first book – like PC Grant’s friend and fellow police officer, Lesley, physical recovery as well as PC Grant’s governor Thomas Nightingale recovering from being shot – are all quite clearly explained without dragging the book down nor leaving the reader too mystified about what was going on. Indeed, for much of the first half of this book Grant is actually following along with two seemingly separate cases. It’s a bonus that the author manages to slowly and very subtly begin to link them, and I was impressed I wondered before the characters did if they were, in fact, related. So that made me feel pretty good about myself.

I also really enjoy how while there is a very strong paranormal aspect throughout the entire book, it’s not too overladen on the actual storyline. It’s still very much a modern London book, with regular people and plenty of “normal” stuff – there just happens to be magic and other paranormal beings out there below the surface. I found this realism really well handled and personally I felt it really added to the book and my enjoyment of it.

I feel both mystery readers and paranormal readers should feel there is strong enough writing to appeal to both genres – and only purists who dislike anything other than their chosen genre might not enjoy this well written and well-paced storyline. I also really appreciated the author has a “chatty” kind of style – instead of a gritty or stilted type of tone to the telling of his story it feels like two friends catching up on the latest action in their lives over a strong cup of tea. This writing style greatly appeals to me – it’s light enough to not bog me down or depress me over the harder aspects of the plots, but it’s catchy and interesting enough to keep me eagerly turning the pages. I really enjoyed it.

With a small but thoroughly enjoyable cast of characters, two excellent plots that were woven together with great skill and a bunch of mystery and paranormal aspects to the plot I feel this should appeal to a wide range of readers. A great book and I’m eager for the next in the series.

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