Book: Moon Over Soho

Author: Ben Aaronovitch

ISBN: 978-0-575-09762-9

Moon Over Soho is the second book in the Rivers of London urban fantasy series by Ben Aaronovitch, featuring Detective Constable Peter Grant of the Metropolitan Police Service in London. If you haven't read the first book in the series yet, also called Rivers of London, please be aware that this review makes reference to events in the first book, so it's recommended you stop reading now.

Moon Over SohoAfter the events in Rivers of London, DC Peter Grant's boss, Detective Chief Inspector Nightingale, is still recovering from his injuries. Grant's former probationary constable colleague, DC Leslie May, is also on leave due to the injuries she also suffered. Grant has brokered a treaty between Mama Thames and Father Thames. Nightingale's injury means that Grant is running a lot of the Folly's field work unsupervised, with not entirely desirable consequences in some situations.

There a couple of series of crimes that Grant winds up investigating in this book. The first is started by the death of apparent natural causes of jazz saxophonist Cyrus Wilkinson. Apparently natural, that is, unless you can detect the audible magical imprint of a jazz song left on Wilkinson's body, which both Grant and the doctor who examined the body could.

After some research, some of which is foisted off on the bored DC May, it becomes apparent that Cyrus wasn't the only jazz musician to suddenly die from natural causes immediately after performing a gig, confirming that the causes weren't entirely natural.

Given that Peter's father, Richard "Lord" Grant was a former, almost famous, jazz musician (he wrecked his own career several times), Peter's investigation into the jazz music scene and the related deaths in London involves some of his father's history and knowledge of jazz itself.

The second crime involves a murder carried out in the same way as a serious injury suffered by a man near the end of the first book - an injury that is extremely unpleasant for most men to contemplate. This crime starts to expand on what it seems is going to be a running thread through the series.

The book also covers more of the history of British, and predominantly Western, wizardry, and starts exploring the reasons why Nightingale is one of the few wizards left, even though there used to be a school of wizardry which, after an explanation from Grant, Nightingale states was not Hogwarts. The origins of their unusual servant Molly, which are related to events in the book, are also explained further.

There is a small aside in the book which, because I had just read The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu immediately prior to Moon Over Soho, seemed very familiar. Apparently, in 1911 (the same year that The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu was published) a Chinese stage magician called Manchu the Magician was suspected of plotting to overthrow Western civilization. This seems a very similar concept to the aims of Dr. Fu-Manchu himself. Moon Over Soho largely ridicules the idea and the book in the way the matter is written about.

The humour present in the first book, Rivers of London, is maintained in this sequel, even with yet more deaths and destruction. Moon Over Soho is an enjoyable book in what is turning out to be a good urban fantasy series.

Moon Over Soho (Peter Grant)
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(price as of Jun 30, 2014)