Foxglove Summer (Rivers of London 5) by Ben Aaronovitch

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Foxglove Summer (Rivers of London 5) by Ben Aaronovitch

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: Exceptional urban fantasy becomes exceptional rural fantasy as, in his fifth book of adventure, Met PC Peter Grant is sent to help investigate the disappearance of two girls in Herefordshire. This isn't as violent as some previous volumes but just as great fun, intriguing and packed with fascinating police factoids; a great place for newbies to start.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: November 2014
Publisher: Gollancz
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0575132504

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After the disappearance of two girls in Herefordshire, PC Grant finds himself assisting with the investigation. It may be countryside rather than the London patch he's used to, but crime is crime, especially when there's a supernatural element to it. He also has a little help and comfort from his home patch to augment the ethereal beings… just in case. And remember Lesley and that taser moment? She's not exactly totally off the scene either.

I have an admission to make: ever since that first head exploded in front of a younger, greener Met police PC Peter Grant in Rivers of London I have been a huge Grant – and [:Category:Ben Aaronovitch|Ben Aaronovitch]] – fan. If you don’t take too kindly to exploding heads and/or know nothing of the copper who discovered there was an undercurrent of magic running through the city (and some of its wrongdoers, a la Midnight Mayor ) Foxglove Summer is a great place to start; as superlative a stand-alone as it is a next in series.

Throughout Foxglove Ben refers back to some of the occurrences in Book 4 but only enough to encourage a back read rather than to spoil. Also the feel of Foxglove is a lot gentler than some of the good constable's previous outings, fitting in with the English/Welsh countryside theme. However this is still not a book for the kiddies as there's swearing (in context when things get more than dicey) and some less than subtle coupling, although sometimes comically narrated rather than erotically or slushy... slushily… well you get the idea!

That's the thing that new Grant readers will notice and existing Grant readers love: Peter is a man with personality to spare in such a good way. OK, his good lady of the moment may be a river goddess but his feet are firmly on the ground with a GSOH that lightens our day as well as his. Think police sergeant and comedy stand-up Alfie Moore (although Ben's character pre-dates him fame wise) with less time to tell jokes, more propensity to coming a cropper by supernatural means and an equally excellent way of showing the inner workings of the force to we outsiders.

Between our smiles and peering out from behind our collective cushions as the climax approaches, we learn about acronyms like TIE and PEACE as well as the subtle tactics built into the family support liaison officer's armoury. Indeed Ben can do subtle well.

Once or twice he compares this fictional case with the all too real Soham abduction case of 2002. I winced when the name first appeared on the novel's pages but he remains respectful to the victims and their families, demonstrating Ben/Peter has included it for information rather than shock effect.

For the fantasy fans, the supernatural being de jour are the fae and, like most good adult fantasy, we're talking about something a lot more malevolent than Tinkerbell. You'll also never look at the everyday mobile phone in the same way again.

By the way, the whole book begins with a touching, apt tribute to Sir Terry Pratchett that will make the fantasy/satire fan smile and nod, while experiencing a large lump in the throat..

As we'd expect, each fan is going to have their favourite and this book is definitely one of mine. It doesn't stop there though; Book 6, The Hanging Tree is due out November 2015 and takes us back to London. To be precise, the old public execution site at Tyburn. What could possibly go wrong?

(A huge thank you to Gollancz for providing us with a copy for review.)

Further Reading: It goes without saying that we definitely recommend Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch (Book 4) if you haven't read it. If you have and you like a bit of fantasy in your crime novel, we just as heartily rave over Omens by Kelley Armstrong.

Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London Novels in Chronological Order

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