Review – Whispers Under Ground

Whispers Under Ground (Peter Grant, #3)Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch
Synopsis from GoodReads:

It begins with a dead body at the far end of Baker Street tube station, all that remains of American exchange student James Gallagher—and the victim’s wealthy, politically powerful family is understandably eager to get to the bottom of the gruesome murder. The trouble is, the bottom—if it exists at all—is deeper and more unnatural than anyone suspects . . . except, that is, for London constable and sorcerer’s apprentice Peter Grant. With Inspector Nightingale, the last registered wizard in England, tied up in the hunt for the rogue magician known as “the Faceless Man,” it’s up to Peter to plumb the haunted depths of the oldest, largest, and—as of now—deadliest subway system in the world.

At least he won’t be alone. No, the FBI has sent over a crack agent to help. She’s young, ambitious, beautiful . . . and a born-again Christian apt to view any magic as the work of the devil. Oh yeah—that’s going to go well.

The Peter Grant series is a lot of fun, at least for me.  It’s really different from a lot of the other Urban Fantasy I read, and not just because it’s got a male protagonist instead of a female one.  There’s a lot more emphasis on crime, police procedure, and a rigidly organized magical system.

On the other hand, there’s also a lot more emphasis on Peter’s appreciation of the female form.  Which… doesn’t really do anything for me.

But I’m not reading the series for it’s highbrow literary appeal or even as escapist fantasy.  I’m reading it because it’s fun, it’s plausible, and I like the politics.  I can’t even really say I like the characters because I’m not super attached to any of them, but I still enjoy the books, although I also find them easy to put down and walk away from for long stretches at a time.

This book is a typical entry in the series, but, like so many series, you have to start at the beginning.  Each novel has a self-contained mystery, yes, but there are also constantly growing threads that expand overarching themes and plots, mostly the mystery of the Faceless Man, politics via the Arrangement (the agreement(s) that bind all magical beings in London about secrecy, training new people, etc.), and continuing character development.

If you’re looking for fantasy in your crime procedural and a protagonist who doesn’t have a horribly traumatic past, this series might be for you.

3.5 stars.  Another solid entry in the series, but it remains ‘fluff reading’ to me and nothing special.

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