Midnight Riot, by Ben Aaronovitch

I originally bought Ben Aaronovitch's book Midnight Riot because I had heard it compared to Jim Butcher's Dresden Files and Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim books. Midnight Riot doesn't actually have much in in common with those series, however. It reminded me far more of Kat Richardson's Greywalker books, although Aaronovitch deserves props for creating a protagonist with an actual personality.

Probationary Constable Peter Grant wants to be a detective. Unfortunately, his skill set is more along the lines of "glorified note-taker". But when Peter realizes that the latest witness he is interviewing is actually a ghost, his unexpected ability to communicate with the dead brings him to the attention of a shadowy department in London’s Metropolitan Police—a department that focuses exclusively on supernatural crimes.

I liked a solid 85% of Midnight Riot. I loved the central mystery, the location-specific details, and the author's attempts to create a three-dimensional world for his nerdy, absent-minded protagonist to inhabit. (He mentions loads of intriguing personal details, like Peter's father's drug habit, that I hope are explored in future books.) On the downside, the editing sucks. There are small problems, like swapping one character's name for another, and bigger problems, like the stuttering pace of the action sequences. And then there are weird problems, like how often narration overshares about Peter's spontaneous erections. I'm sorry, Mr. Aaronovitch, but hearing about the state of your hero's junk doesn't make him seem “real"; it just makes him seem a little creepy. On the other hand, the female characters themselves are interesting and well-written, which is another example of the lopsidedness of the novel: its flaws are (mostly) offset by the humor and charm of the storytelling. I'm reserving judgment on the series as a whole, but I'm sufficiently intrigued to hunt down the next installment.
Posted by: Julianka


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