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Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud

Midnight Riot - Ben Aaronovitch Rating: 3.5* of five The Book Report: The book description says: Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic. My Review: I'm on record everywhere as disliking phantasee nowvels with Randomly capitalized woordes misspelled to make them majgicqkal. So why the hell would I even pick this book up? Need an easy target to aim brickbats at? No. I feel about this book the way I feel about candy bars: Okay. I won't buy one, normally, because I don't like them much (except Little Debby Nutty Bars, which are Perfection, but this is so self-evident as not to need discussion), but there are times and places for everything, right? I found a time and a place for this book. I liked it fine. It's more what I'd hoped for when I heard the fuss about the Harry Dresden, Wizard for Justice, series. Which I did not like at all after about book two.Peter Grant and his London are intimately connected. The prose makes sure you know this by referencing the ways in which Peter interfaces with London constantly. Tube stops, the names of branch lines, references to bus lines and street names and the oh-so-British shorthand about a character by referencing the newspaper he or she reads...highways and exits and town names...the UK title of the book, The Rivers of London, is absolutely the proper title for a book that uses those rivers, from obvious and huge like the Thames to small, obscure, and vanished, like the Tyburn, as characters to be reckoned with, and whose central myth-making (highly reminiscent of American Gods) dates the age of some riverine characters to the time when England began to clean the rivers up and bring them back to life...well, Midnight Riot just doesn't do the book justice.So...Harry Dresden meets American Gods, two things that have elicited negative reviews from me, and I give this three and a half stars. Senile? Drugged? Honest. This book is meant to be fun to read, and it is, while still being built with a consistent mythical background, and it is, with...and here's the key to my pleasure in reading this as opposed to Dresden or Gaiman...a main character whose journey through the pages of story causes him to alter his perception of himself and his place in the world. Harry Dresden's boring agonizing and obnoxious chauvinistic 'tude towards women are absent. Gaiman's ultraubermega cool world-building is present, but without the static characters. Score!Okay, that sounds like more than three and a half stars, right? Yep. If the book had had some issues ironed out, the rating would be higher. One big issue is Peter Grant's attitude towards the whole majgicqal mystikal world he's suddenly in touch with. “Oh...okay.” Not enough, Mr. Aa. Another issue is the pacing. How, in this day and time of 11945663-page, 29846-volume series novels, is it possible to make 298pp have draggy spots?! Seriously. Draggy spots! How? And there is the question of series-ness...one doesn't want to give too much away to preserve the fun of discovery for future installments, but the cicerone character of Nightingale, Grant's police superior and apparently a very, very old man, is not so much mysteriously vague and intriguing as annoyingly unexamined.Flaws exist in all things made by humankind, and one person's flaw is another's bliss, but these are pet peeves of mine. Character development and pacing are crucial to my personal enjoyment of a novel. I'm inclined to be forgiving of first novelists in these matters, but not vets like Aaronovitch, who has written several very influential Doctor Who novels.So three and a half stars it is. And I'll read Moon Over Soho, the next installment in the series, because I like Peter and his majgickqal world that much. Pretty high praise coming from a mean old curmudgeon like me.