To be clear, I have not read a single book in the Rivers of London Series, instead they were my introduction to audio books. And once I heard Kobna Holdbrook-Smith’s voice, there was no looking back. His voice brought the characters to life and took me into the magical dark underworld of London.
I read Book 1, Midnight Riot, under the title Rivers of London for the version on Audible. My husband prefers to listen to books as he spends so much time in transit, and he urged me to try the series. I gave the audio version a go since he said it was so good. He was RIGHT. It was only the second book I enjoyed as an audiobook. No matter how many books I sampled, I couldn’t get into the story. The narrator’s voice and tone was so different to what my imagination came up with, I couldn’t get into the stories. Maybe it was because I did not read the books, but I think Kobna made the stories his own and I loved the characters voiced by him. Even the villains.
The author, Ben Aaronovitch, clearly spent much of his life in London. His knowledge of the city, the feeling of each of the streets, read true throughout the story. I wish I had listened to the books before visiting London, I would have felt more connected with the city. He also filled the book with British slang, so I learnt so much more about British expectations and idioms. Some were eye opening, he filled the book with adult content. But it fits. It was not excessive, and it made sense in a city filled with dark secrets and a young, single cop who was learning his way around magical London.
“Being a seasoned Londoner, Martin gave the body the “London once-over” – a quick glance to determine whether this was a drunk, a crazy or a human being in distress. The fact that it was entirely possible for someone to be all three simultaneously is why good-Samaritanism in London is considered an extreme sport – like BASE jumping or crocodile wrestling.”Ben Aaronovitch, Midnight Riot
Constable Peter Grant’s goal is to be a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. It does not look like his dreams will ever come true, when a strange case, with a puzzling murder, provides Peter with exclusive information from a witness who only Peter can see. His witness is a ghost. His ability to interact with the dead brings him attention from Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates magical crimes.
The rivers of London are deities, goddesses who interact with their modern world. It was a refreshing take on urban fantasy, a gritty, dark, magical detective procedural. The magical detective story brought two of my favourite genres together while exposing me to the dark underbelly of London as shown by Ben Aaronovitch. Peter is a complex character with an interesting family and upbringing that affects how he sees his world. I don’t know if I would have enjoyed the books as much without the narration, but I enjoyed so much, I don’t care. Happy Reading.
“The motto of West African cooking is that if the food doesn’t set fire to the tablecloth the cook is being stingy with the pepper.”Ben Aaronovtich, Midnight Riot