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Tina's Reading Books

Genre fiction lover:  Romance, Sci Fi, Fantasy, Mystery, Urban Fantasy

Whispers Under Ground

Whispers Under Ground - Ben Aaronovitch

When I read the first book in Ben Aaronovitch's Peter Grant series, I was seriously blown away.  I loved everything about it -- the story, the character of Peter, the meld of fantasy/magic with Peter's scientific nerd cred, the meld of urban fantasy with police procedure and the humor -- all of it. I followed up with the second book.  While still very good, it didn't WOW me as much as the first.


But I still had plans to continue on in the series, just not right then.  Here I am a year later and decided to pick up the third book. 


I had heard good things about these books in audio so I decided to get this one. 


Excellent idea!


All the fabulous stuff about the series is still there with a few new things.  One of the new things is of course the case this time around.  The victim is an American.  The son of a state senator.  This makes the murder high profile and brings with it a member of the FBI over to London to observe.  Since Peter and Nightingale are brought in on the case, that means the murder has some magic/paranormal element and they have to tread carefully.  I like how on the one hand the Muggle Regular homicide police get squidgey about the presence of magic but still can't deny it because the case is just weird.  Of course it doesn't help that they don't have such a high opinion of Peter either.  This case goes off in a few directions and introduces interesting new paranormal characters and we get return visits (Yay!) from several of the River Goddesses, including the very scary Tyburn (who I can't help but love!).


Another new thing is Leslie.  As the series began she was Peter's friend, an object of his lust and one of the smartest young police constables whom everyone agreed was destined for great things.  But in this book, we see her struggling with the aftermath of events from the first book where she fell afoul of terrible magic. I like how the book does not shy away from Peter's discomfort sometimes in Leslie's presence.  The book is narrated in first person and I think the author (and the narrator in this audio) gets Peter's diffidence colored by slight shame and guilt  just right,  She's still his mate but he can't help his reaction when he looks at her.  I also liked the small point later in the book when he realizes for the first time a little wonderingly that, for a few minutes, he had stopped obsessing over her looks and was able to actually see her. 


There is an element of this series I enjoy and is illustrated very well in this book, is how Aaronvitch does not fall in the 'white-as-default' when he introduces characters.  This is unlike a lot of books where the author will usually only note skin color when a character is not white.  It makes sense, though.  He's speaking through Peter, a biracial man who, like most people of color, doesn't think that way and is subconsciously conscious of race and color in a way that white people simply are not.  Peter, it is worth noting, has a very sharp sense of cultural and racial politics that sometimes bleeds through in his dryly funny observations.


And I'd forgotten just how funny Peter's observations are.  He is just as quick to poke fun of himself and the absurd situations he gets himself into as he is when pointing out the foibles of the people around him. 


The narration by Kobna Holbrook-Smith was wonderful!  I do think his American accent was too broad.  But his Nightingale was exactly how I imagine Nightingale sounds -- very Leslie Howard. 


The one thing I am not keen on is the need for Peter to have a Moriarty-esque arch-nemesis so soon.  He has only been a magical apprentice and a real policeman for about a  year.  So it feels a bit premature. 


But otherwise I am enjoying the progression as well as how his and Nightingale's magical family is slowly growing. 


Great book, off to listen to the next one.