Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch

Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch
Publisher: Gollancz
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

A mutilated body in Crawley. A killer on the loose. The prime suspect is one Robert Weil, possibly an associate of the twisted wizard known as the Faceless Man. Or maybe just a garden-variety serial killer.

Before apprentice wizard and Police Constable Peter Grant can even get his head ’round the case, two more are dropped in his lap: a town planner has gone under a tube train, and there’s a stolen grimoire for Grant to track down.

So far, so London.

But then Peter gets word of something very odd happening on a housing estate designed by a nutter, built by charlatans, and inhabited by the truly desperate.

Is there a connection?

And if there is, why oh why did it have to be South of the River—in the jurisdiction of some pretty prickly local river spirits?

It’s been almost a year since PC Peter Grant learned the world wasn’t quite what he’d expected, and he had begun his apprenticeship in magic along with his police duties. So, when another murder has some earmarks of being magically related but plenty of other clues hint this might be completely mundane, Peter has his work cut out for him. As usual, Peter and Lesley race to find out exactly what’s happening all the while learning on the job.

The Rivers of London series is a whole lot of fun. Plenty of paranormal creatures and activities alongside some solid police procedural style regular mystery work packed in with a healthy dose of humor and the absurd. I’ve found that this is one of those series where you’re caught laughing mid-way through a scene only to have it all turn on its head. While this book can be read alone, I strongly feel that readers will get a lot more enjoyment if they read these in order. The characters, situations and links are all very well explained but a lot of history has happened in the previous books. So, I definitely feel those connections and overall story arc in particular will be a lot more meaningful and enjoyable to readers if they’ve read at least a few of the previous books. That said, it’s not strictly necessary in order to follow and enjoy this book.

I was pleased to see both Peter and Lesley are growing – both as characters and in their magical training and talents. I was also glad to be reminded that while a number of books have occurred only approximately a year in story-time has passed. It’s been explained before that an apprenticeship can be upwards of ten years so while some growth has occurred this is expected to be slow going and so they are both absolutely learning and only in the beginning stages, which makes things more interesting to my mind.

Readers looking for an enjoyable – often humorous – paranormal tale with a strong mystery plot should find this a lovely read. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am eager to continue with the series. Recommended.

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