the Little Red Reviewer

Moon over Soho by Ben Aaronovich

Posted on: November 27, 2011

Moon Over Soho (Peter Grant, book 2) by Ben Aaronovich

Published 2011

Where I got it: purchased new

Why I read it: Loved the first book in the series, Midnight Riot









Picking up shortly after the events of Midnight Riot (Rivers of London if you’re in the UK),  Moon over Soho opens with Thomas Nightingale being on medical leave, Leslie May literally afraid to show her face, and PC Peter Grant investigating dead bodies. Grant gets called in by the Murder Team when something strange is going on. For example, when the dead guy hasn’t got a face anymore, or other body parts are missing, or was burned to a crisp. If it’s strange enough that the regular cops don’t want to deal with it, they call in Grant and Nightingale, because you see, these guys do magic.

If you haven’t read the first book in the series, Midnight Riot, you really aught to. This is a tight knit series, and if you pick this book up on a lark, I’ll bet you’ll feel a little lost. Besides, Midnight Riot has the freakiest most disturbing Punch and Judy puppet show on the planet. Good stuff, funny, fast paced, scary as hell. go read it. Then read this one.

Moon over Soho starts out with a simple murder. As much as Peter hopes the jazz musician died of a simple heart attack, it’s never that simple, and Aaronovich doesn’t leave guns on the table to not be used later.  Peter immediately picks up vestigia, or magical residue on the body, and this body is screaming a famous jazz tune. It’s not long before another body shows up, this one horribly and disgustingly disfigured. The vestigia and circumstances are too similar to ignore, and this is where the policing part comes in. You’d think Peter interviewing people, and putting puzzle pieces together would get boring, but it doesn’t.  He’s sarcastic and distractable, and life doesn’t stop just because you’re investigating a string of supernatural murders that appear to be caused by jazz vampires.

My favorite part about these books is Peter’s relationship with Nightingale. Nightingale is so very trapped in his time and his ways, with no interest in the modern world, while Peter is attached at the hip to his electronics ( and google translator for all the Latin) and police databases. Nightingale does what has to be done, and Peter wants desperately to know why and how it all works.  How is magic connected to life force, if at all?  Why to the specific words said in a spell matter?  What exactly is Molly, and why can’t she leave the house?  I couldn’t get enough of these conversations.  Peter has a truly investigative and curious mind about how it all works, and although Nightingale is the expert, his response often is “I never thought it like that”.   The supernatural police procedural bits are fun and all, but it’s the tastes of Nightingale’s past that kept me reading. He’s hiding something, and it feels big and shattery.  I also get the feeling that Peter’s innate curiosity is going to bite him in the ass.

Remember the gun I told you Aaronovich left on the table?  If not for his slick writing, I might have seen the end coming, known exactly when that gun was to go off. And do I have a weakness for predicting the ending. Like I said: slick writing. I never saw it coming, and that’s the way to do it.

Written to be fast, funny, scary and sarcastic, Moon over Soho has More Harry Potter, Gandalf and Doctor Who jokes than you can shake a stick at, along with buckets of British humor and slang. And as a Yankee, I can only imagine all the slang jokes I missed.  Brit or not, if you enjoy edgy paranormal mysteries, this is a series for you. Think Dresden Files, only better. Yes, I did say better.

I’m usually not into plugging this kind of thing, but I can’t help it.  Check out The Folly, for info on the series, a link to Peter’s blog (Peter has a blog??)  and more info about Aaronovich and the research he put into the books.

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16 Responses to "Moon over Soho by Ben Aaronovich"

I very much enjoyed Midnight Riot, too, and am only part way through Moon Over Soho but am enjoying it as much as the first. Good review. Thanks.

I really enjoyed both of these books and I’m looking forward to the next :)

So glad you liked this one! I loved it-great series!

I might have to check this series out since I just moved to London. It might make it extra fun.

Better than the dresden Files? Impossible! Witchcraft! Kill it with fire! (Um, sorry about that . )

I read and liked this one, actually – though one key event in the ending did seem to resolve things a little neatly, I didn’t predict the finale on this one (and like you, I frequently do). I did hope to see some more progress on the magic side, though (say, Peter making some bigger discoveries as in Rivers). Despite my nitpicks, however, it was a great read, fast paced like the Dresden files, but markedly different in focus. Have you read the Felix Castor series, by the way?

lol, kill it with fire! I did love the idea of Harry Dresden, but the first book left me pretty lukewarm, for a handful of reasons.yeah, I know, I suck. :p

I’m unfamiliar with Felix Castor. . . tell me more!!

No, I’ll agree with you there, the first book isn’t great, but the series picks up to such an extent after the third or so that it’s now one of my favourites. Heh, I change my opinions quickly!

The Felix Castor series is also (mostly) a kind of UF/crime series, but it’s a fair bit darker, and more limited in terms of magic (it’s also very good). The main character’s an exorcist, which I’m not usually a huge fan of (ghosts, yawn), but he ends up doing much more detective work than actual exorcism. :P He also does a stint as children’s entertainer, but that’s just amusing. It’s actually very good… I ploughed through the whole thing in a few days.

I’ve definitely heard the Dresden series picked up, and gets good fast. One of these days I’ll read further into it, I promise.

The Felix Castor books sound interesting, and I do loves teh dark. Thanks for the rec!

Rivers of London is one of the books in my “to read” lists. I’ll come back and compare when I’ve read it.

I have heard good things about this one so yes I am very intrigued by it. Sounds different too

Yeay! Now I cannot wait even more! (wait, does that make sense? well, you know what I mean)
I do hope the library has it…
I liked the website (The Folly) for several reasons – it gives you a taste for the man behind the story, which I always find interesting. It’s somehow got a quaint, comfortable feel about it. And, best of all, it has a bibliography of books he used to research all the stuff about London. Which I find intriguing and am very tempted to check some of those out, as I’ve been wanting to learn some more about historical London anyway.

Excellent review, for an excellent book. I did prefer ‘Rivers of London’ (Yep, I’m a brit, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t get all the references either), but I felt like the two were written almost as one book, they mesh so tightly.

Thanks for pointing out the websites too, I’d missed those.

I only recently got around to this series, and it was great – tore through all three books on three consecutive days. :D I was wondering if you’d had the chance to read the third book? If so, any plans to review it?

I zipped through the first 2 books, don’t know why I haven’t gotten to the 3rd yet, because it’s certainly on my radar!

I zipped through the first 2 books, don’t know why I haven’t gotten to the 3rd yet, because it’s certainly on my radar!

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