BOOKS – Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

Peter Grant is the son of a neat-freak, Sierra Leone mother and a junkie jazz-playing dad and he didn’t pass all his A levels. In fact, on paper he’s not much of a cop either. Not like his friend Lesley who’s on the fast track for DCI in homicide and has her copper instincts honed to a sharp point. But that’s ok. Unlike Lesley, Peter can see ghosts and he’s a nice guy. Or so he discovers one cold, wet evening on the job. This saves him from a clerk assignment and lands him instead in a secret branch of the Met with all of two officers – Peter included – that deals with magic and the supernatural.


If the Dresden Files was your thing until it became too mixed up with Christian mythology. If Harry Potter was awesome, but you’d like something more adult. If you are a little weary of the usual white-girl suspect in Urban Fantasy (/eyes own writing guiltily). Then Ben Aaronovitch’s Best-selling Rivers of London series is something you should check out.
It is a chuckle-romp of a detective novel with old boy’s clubs, crumpets and cool London trivia mixed in with a lost-adrift black novice cop, Punch and Judy shows and more than a dollop of true gibbering madness.

First published in January, 2011 by Gollancz, it is the first in a series of four by British Author Ben Aaronovitch who also wrote two Doctor Who serials, Remembrance of the Daleks (1988) and Battlefield (1989) for BBC television as well as several Doctor Who novels. And there is more than a little bit of the Doctor feel of the bizarre going on in the corner of your eye and down every dark alley in London. Although I am pleased to say Rivers of London has a very well established and executed plot and resolution.


Punch and Judy by Dougdforbes

Punch and Judy by Dougdforbes

I found my way to this book by falling into a Wikipedia rabbit hole chasing, I forget what and found myself reading the Rivers of London wiki page before I ever picked the book up. Not how that usually plays out but how you find a book matters less than how the story turns your head and this one sure did for me. Ben’s narrative has cozy, way of surprising chuckles out of you with his on-the-penny descriptions and musings and he had me laughing out loud more than once. And Peter Grant has zoomed in on my list of favourite anti-heroes with dry self-honesty and the other characters’ penchant for treating him like he’s a bit daft:

‘Is it fast?’ I asked.
‘It’s what they use to trank rhinos,’ he said, and handed me a second package with another two syrettes. ‘This is the reversing agent, narcan. If you stick yourself with the etorphine, then you use this straight away before you call an ambulance, and try to make sure the paramedics get this card.’
He handed me a card that was still warm from the lamination machine. In Dr Walid’s neat, capitalised handwriting it said: ‘Warning. I have been stupid enough to stick myself with etorphine hydrochloride’, and listed the procedures the paramedics were to follow. Most of them concerned resuscitation and heroic measures to maintain heartbeat and respiration.


I would warmly recommend picking up the first in the, so far, series of four books which you can buy from by clicking here. If nothing else it is an excellent stocking stuffer for your favourite booknerd!

You can find Ben on his blog, or Twitter @Ben_Aaronovitch
Please note that Rivers of London has been published in the US under the title of Midnight Riot.

Punch and Judy by Lonopan

Punch and Judy by Lonopan


One thought on “BOOKS – Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

  1. Pingback: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab – Walk Off The Path

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