Whispers Under Ground (2012) – Ben Aaronovitch

The third book in what has become known as the Rivers of London series takes Peter Grant beneath London in the next volume of the urban fantasy series.

Working a murder case, while still hunting down the Faceless Man and his students, Grant, alongside Lesley, who has now joined the Folly (where they work from) in his investigations, and magic-learning, end up in the tunnels and sewers below London, searching for truth, and supects, and are in no way ready for what they discover, as their search takes them from the art world, to unnerving discoveries.

Packed with wry humour, and tons of pop culture references (the Elvish script from Lord of the Rings that shows up made me laugh aloud), the established continuity and characters continue to grow, and Grant has his hands full dealing with his boss, Nightingale, an American FBI agent investigating the murder (the son of an American senator), and all the interjurisdictional fun that comes with a case that crosses so many lines.

There are seeds planted for the continually developing story threads that run through the series as well as reveals that play specifically for the story as Grant tries to figure out who the murderer is, and learns that the mundane, or natural, world, is sometimes more full of threats than the magical one.

I’ve grown to really enjoy these characters over three novels, and enjoy their interactions. Lesley and Peter are such a great team, even as she continues to recover from the tragic events of the first novel. The story plays out brilliantly, filled with lots of laughs and jolts as Peter and his friends and co-workers attempt to run down leads, hide magic from the visiting American, and get their holiday shopping out of the way.

With one novel, Aaronovitch won me over with his storytelling and his characters, now, three novels in, I find myself practically frothing at the mouth for the next instalment. He’s got a great way with his narrative, keeping us involved with the current mystery, while reminding us of an ongoing bigger picture. It’s a fine balance to walk, and he makes it look easy. Definitely a lot easier for me that it is for Peter to get his magic down.

And then there are the supporting characters, Nightingale, Molly, Toby the dog, and Abigail, who was introduced in the previous novel, and seems to be moving into an even larger role in preparation for future adventures. I am in for the long haul with Peter Grant, Lesley and company and can’t wait to see where I go next in Broken Homes!

If you’re looking for something fun, funny, and a bit of a grown-up Harry Potter turned detective series, this is definitely a series to check out.

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