Friday, January 06, 2012

Moon over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch

You may remember I reviewed "Rivers of London" last summer. "Moon over Soho" is the sequel. In the last review, amongst other things, I said:
  1. "You know those detective stories where the male lead character meets attractive female characters and they rapidly find themselves in an explicit sex scene? This isn't one of those stories." and
  2. "The fact that much of the romantic tension still remains at the end of the book suggests to me that the author intends to develop the relationships between these characters over several books..."
The first thing I should say is that Moon over Soho fails to follow in the footsteps of those observations. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. Minor spoilers may follow, but I'll not give anything significant away.

Rivers of London ended up with one of the potential love interest characters seriously injured following the events described in that book. While she does have a minor role in this book, her part in the story is surprisingly brief and she only really exists here to make our hero feel a bit guilty, every now and then. The other potential love interest character from the first book doesn't feature here at all, so maybe I got the wrong impression from the first book, but anyway.

The story carries on with our hero, the apprentice to the supernatural-investigating police inspector, investigating two different but connected magical murder inquiries. In one, a series of apparently healthy and very talented jazz musicians die of 'natural causes' in unusual circumstances. In the other, a series of men die in very painful ways, apparently at the, erm, hands of a murderer with 'vagina dentata'. Nuff said. (Google it if you need more info, which you really don't.)

The story is entertaining and moves along at a good pace, which accelerates nicely towards the conclusion. Along the way we find out a bit more about our hero's family, a little bit more about magic, quite a lot about jazz, and a little glimpse into the country's magical past. I suspect there's more there for future books, but then again I was wrong in my predictions after the last book, so I could be wrong again.

As I hinted above, there is a lot more sex in this book than in the last. It kind of springs out of nowhere and seems a bit out of place, but then you come to realise that actually it is part of the plot and is there for a purpose. It actually does serve to make the conclusion a bit more involving.

There are fewer instances of the clunky writing/editing that I noticed in the first book, although there are still one or two points where the narrative jumps in a slightly disconcerting way - usually when providing a bit of back story for an event or character. But that's a minor niggle.

It becomes apparent that there is a 'Moriarty' type criminal mastermind somewhere in the background in this story and it is both annoying and intriguing in the way that his storyline is not resolved by the end of this book.

The two primary crime stories are both resolved here, one in a satisfactory way, and the other a bit less so. Rather than being a single plotline in its own right, the second murder inquiry becomes merged into the larger 'Moriarty' type plot, so its conclusion is brief and not fully resolved. But don't let you stop that reading this excellent book.

So, should you read this book? Yes, I think so, but only if you read Rivers of London first.

Is it better than its predecessor? No, but its not significantly worse either. More of the same really. If you liked the first, then you'll like the second. And probably the third too.

Will I read the next installment of the story "Whispers Underground" when it is published in the summer? Absolutely, yes.

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