Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch
Synopsis from GoodReads:
In the fifth of his bestselling series Ben Aaronovitch takes Peter Grant out of whatever comfort zone he might have found and takes him out of London – to a small village in Herefordshire where the local police are reluctant to admit that there might be a supernatural element to the disappearance of some local children. But while you can take the London copper out of London you can’t take the London out of the copper.
Travelling west with Beverley Brook, Peter soon finds himself caught up in a deep mystery and having to tackle local cops and local gods. And what’s more all the shops are closed by 4pm …
Another good installment in the Peter Grant/Rivers of London series. Certain things will be kept deliberately vague to prevent major spoilers.
The previous four books all took place in London, but after the game changer that was book four’s ending, it was nice to see a bit of a change of pace with this book. Not only is Peter out of his comfort zone out in the country – poor city boy – but he’s interacting with mostly new characters. Oh, sure, Nightingale is in here, but mostly via phone calls. Same for Lesley and Dr. Walid. In fact, other than Peter himself, only Beverly Brook, mostly M.I.A. since the end of book one, is a major recurring character.
This does, of course, allow for new characters to shine. It’s always interesting to see higher-ups who are willing to accept magic since the London higher-ups tend to not even want to hear it, quite unlike Edmondson and Windrow. And while there’s no Sahra Guleed (from the murder investigation team in London, aka Somali Ninja Girl), there is Dominic Cooper, as happy as Guleed to be involved in magic – meaning sometimes super interested and sometimes super unhappy. And I’ll admit to hoping to see more of both Hugh and Mellissa Oswald.
And, because this is the English/Welsh countryside, there are, of course, fae. Or, rather, this world’s version thereof. I’ll admit that I was a bit disappointed that Peter never even considered certain (in)famous fae when they were talking about potential magic horses, but he’s still rather new to the whole folklore/magic thing, all things considered, so he’s forgiven.
While the characters and the magic were as good as always, this book did start a bit slowly. Yes, there is definitely a feeling of urgency while the girls are missing, but then it kind of peters out and the tension lowers, only to resurge at the end – and then completely fizzle. I just never thought that there was any real danger during the climax because, well, Peter didn’t think there was, and since this is first-person…
Meanwhile, I felt that the Lesley subplot was used mostly as an excuse to keep Nightingale in London and Peter on his own out in the country. It was well done, and I was happy to hear from her after the last book, but it still felt more like a device considering how intelligent Lesley is. It just felt… sloppy. Which is an adjective more likely to be applied to Peter than to Lesley.
And, finally, I would’ve liked to see more of an explanation about the foxgloves and their surprising appearance in the soil that shouldn’t have been so acidic, especially since they’re mentioned in the title.
Overall, though, if you’ve enjoyed the rest of this series then you’ll still enjoy this installment. 3.5 out of 5 stars.