Sunday, 22 February 2015
#CBR7 Book 22: "Moon Over Soho" by Ben Aaronovitch
Audio book length: 10 hrs 1 min
Rating: 4 stars
This is the second book in the books about DC Peter Grant and as such, this review may contain certain spoilers for book one, Rivers of London. That's the book you want to start with.
Something is killing jazz musicians in Soho. A promising jazz saxophonist, Cyrus Wilkinson, drops dead of an apparent heart attack after playing a gig. Doctor Walid suspects that something supernatural may have caused it and DC Grant can hear "Body and Soul" playing when he examines the body. Some investigation shows that Cyrus is not the first musician this has happened to. Cases go back a long way, something mysterious seems to be feeding off them, possibly a type of "jazz vampire". While Peter doesn't exactly trust Simone, Cyrus' girlfriend, he does need her help and keeps being drawn to her, even though he knows it's not a good idea to get involved with someone connected to a case.
There is also a deadly female stalking the streets, leaving men bleeding to death with their genitals chomped off. Inspector Nightingale is unable to help out as much as he could wish, and Leslie May is recovering at her parents' house, reluctant to even see Peter, hiding her face every time he comes to visit. They communicate by text, and she helps him with research, but Peter is worried that their friendship is in danger of being as ruined as Leslie's face if they don't figure something out. As the various investigations progress, there are signs that they may be connected in some way. There is also someone sinister behind all of it. Is Inspector Thomas Nightingale really the only wizard left in England, or could there be someone else trained in magic, and using it for their own personal gain?
Peter's apprenticeship as a wizard continues, and he's getting more proficient in some of the basic forms. His inquisitive nature and his research abilities allow him to progress faster than Nightingale expects, but he still has a long way to go. Peter is on his own for much of the book, with both his inspector and Leslie May out of commission due to the events towards the end of the first book. Nightingale keeps trying to get involved, only to over-exert himself and get ordered back on bed rest by Doctor Walid. Leslie is staying with her parents while waiting for reconstructive surgery. Her injuries upset Peter, but he's also confident that he did whatever he could to save her, and while the damage to her face is bad, she's still alive and refuses to be pitied. She assists him as best she can from a distance, but prefers not to meet face to face unless it's absolutely necessary. I really liked the way her situation was handled in the book. While there is magic in this world, there is no easy fix-it button to restore Leslie's face to the way it was. The revelation at the end, revealing what she's been working on while recovering, makes me very curious to see where things go in the rest of the series.
These books also show how much of police work takes time, looking through old records, countless hours spent reading reports, interviewing suspects, doing tedious legwork. It was nice to see a bit more of Peter's parents, and I really liked the idea of "jazz vampires", supernatural creatures that feed on artistic and musical ability, rather than blood. There is clearly a lot of set up here for later books, and while the central mystery is solved by the end, there are a number of unanswered questions and much to deal with in the books to come. The narration continues to be excellent, and I've already got the third book downloaded on the Audible app on my phone.
Crossposted on Cannonball Read.