I have a weird confession to make: I’ve loved every single one of Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers Of London novels but I’ll be darned if I could, today, explain the plot of even just one of the first six books to anybody who asked. Okay, maybe Midnight Riot since that was the foundational text, and then there’s a book with an FBI agent and a book about Isengard and then stuff with fairies? Like, I have a general sense of what’s happened so far but I can barely even recapitulate, much less explain it all. Part of this is because the novels are so darn dense, with Mr Aaronovitch throwing big meaty ideas into the mix as our hero DC Peter Grant runs around London mostly, trying to investigate and stop magical crimes. Another is that details relevant to the overarching plot/world are included in non-book format, whether via comics or short stories (maddening, but understandable: an author’s got to make money. Mr Aaronovitch claims that you don’t have to read the extra stuff to enjoy the mains, but on this one thing I refuse to believe him.) But honestly, the main reason I can’t quite grok everything that’s going on is because lots of things tend to remain unexplained, and it is to Mr Aaronovitch’s unending credit that that is perfectly acceptable to me as a reader. He just gives you so much to think about, to be entertained by, with such confidence and skill and, frankly, realism, that it seems almost churlish to demand explanations given that our first person narrator, Peter, barely knows what’s going on half the time himself.
And THEN comes the seventh book in the series, which neatly ties everything up and finally, finally, tells you who the eff Mr Punch really is. This was a really great arc ender, dealing with the bad guy(s), tying up a bunch of loose ends but also pointing to a fresh direction forward for the series. By no means read this if you haven’t already enjoyed the first six books. I’m lucky enough to be reading this while holding an advance copy of book 8, False Value, so even my sieve-like memory won’t lose too much detail while segueing from one to the next. Is this review really just me boasting about already owning a copy of the next book in the series? Not entirely, tho I will say that readers should by all means binge books 1-7 to get a complete, satisfying story. Also, it’s rather hard to describe without giving away details. Lies Sleeping is basically about bells and ancient rituals, but honestly about so much more. If you haven’t already, start at Midnight Riot and settle in to enjoy a witty, magical police procedural set in a modern-day London that actually feels modern-day. You can thank me later.