Monday, January 23, 2012
Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch
Earlier this month I read the first of Ben Aaronovitch’s Folly series see review here (Rivers of London UK/Midnight Riot in the US) and thoroughly enjoyed it. Moon Over Soho is the sequel and it fully lives up to the promise shown in it’s predecessor.
Picking up not that long after the events of Rivers of London, Moon Over Soho finds plainclothes London policeman and apprentice wizard Peter Grant still toiling away at his studies and his job, whilst dealing with the fall out from the previous book, mostly the injuries and terrible facial disfiguration suffered by his partner and friend; Leslie Mays. He’s just visited Leslie and not really enjoyed the experience all that much when he receives a call to attend the morgue.
He is confronted by a body that appears to have suffered a heart attack and died. Peter’s not at all sure why the Folly’s regular medical contact; Dr Walid, has called him about this until he hears the notes of the jazz standard ‘Body and Soul’ floating from the corpse. All of a sudden bodies of jazzmen start turning up with two things in common; they die of heart attacks despite age and physical fitness, and ‘Body and Soul' is involved.
Peter’s father is an old jazzman, a former trumpeter commonly known to other members of London’s jazz community as ‘Lord’ Grant due to a comment made by Ray Charles after hearing Richard Grant play one night. That makes this case right up Peter’s alley, and he soon finds himself haunting jazz clubs with one of the victim’s old band mates and finding out that there’s more to his dear old Dad than a long forgotten career wrecked by bad luck, ill health and drug addiction. He also falls under the spell of Simone, the girlfriend of the first dead jazzman to crop up.
The more Peter searches, the more anomalies he turns up, and he finds that following this case and trying to keep himself alive as the fall out from another ongoing series of murders accumulates, is not all that easy, and then there’s the mystery of Simone, she’s not what she seems and what is the bewitching hold she has on her lovers, Peter included, and her love of jazz?
There’s less of the minutiae of police procedure this time, although I found that interesting in the first book, yet the author displays a wealth of knowledge on that subject. He also appears to have done his homework on jazz music and the London jazz scene. Peter is a highly engaging narrator and the books are worth reading for his little deviations into items of historical interest, some things are thrown in by random, or so it seems, but they always turn up to be pertinent to the plot. Aaronovitch has given his protagonist a highly amusing turn of phrase and interesting outlook on things in general. Peter is fast becoming one of my favourite and most interesting urban fantasy heroes.
There’s also some interesting revelations and background given to Peter’s mentor Nightingale and their maid; Molly, who has become an intriguing and strangely endearing peripheral character.
The final part of this book made my jaw drop and the hints of what is to come has insured that I’ll be snapping up the third Folly book; Whispers Under Ground, the second I see it for sale.