Moon Over Soho  - Ben Aaronovitch I don't know what it is about the Peter Grant series, but this is only the second installment and already I am completed addicted. I've not been a fan of urban fantasy for very long, but over the years I have come to appreciate the particular brand of "fun and fluffiness" that's so characteristic of books like this. They're reliable entertainment -- I know even before I crack the cover that I'll have a good time, and I'm hardly ever disappointed.

As it happens, Moon Over Soho was even better than I expected, because I found I could hardly put it down once I started. The story begins just several months after the events of the first book Rivers of London/Midnight Riot, but police constable and apprentice magician Peter Grant is already called upon to investigate a series of curious deaths around the Soho area in the West End of London. It appears a troubling number of jazz musicians have been keeling over dead after their gigs, apparently from "natural" causes such as aneurysms or heart failure, but the discovery of thaumaturgical residue on the bodies makes Peter suspect magical foul play.

I was also surprised to see that a seemingly minor event from the last book, one I'd thought was originally thrown in at the end for some perverse comic relief, actually turned out to be the basis for another major plot thread in this novel. The details are a little disturbing and really much too outrageous to try to explain, so let's just leave it at that. I'd rather not spoil it, anyhow.

That said, while the adventures of Peter and his dry sardonic British wit (especially in his zinging of everything from the bureaucracy of the London Metropolitan Police to post-modern architecture) continue to delight and make me laugh out loud, there is definitely a darker, more sinister tone to this book. Not only are a few of the crime scene scenarios somewhat disturbing, there were also a few parts where I actually found myself downright creeped out -- but in the good, spine-tingling-edge-of-your-seat kind of way.

There are also a couple of traditions I'm glad to see this book continuing. The first is the ever phenomenal characterization of London as a charming, vibrant and multicultural city. The author likes to inject random and interesting facts about London's description, history, and people in the course of his storytelling, and all that attention to detail truly brings this magnificent city to life in these books.

The second is the "science" behind the magic. The magical systems and how they work in this series are still not very clear, and here the reader is almost as lost as Peter when it comes to trying to figure it out. Peter, however, persists in experimenting with his powers using logic and scientific theory, and even though some of his results and "explanations" make things even more confusing and harder to understand, I do like his unique approach and am interested to see how the series' concept of magic will continue to develop in future books.

Speaking of which, contrary to the first book which in my opinion wrapped up quite nicely, Moon Over Soho has the distinct feel of a "Part I". This series is definitely building into something bigger, and I can't wait to get my hands on the third book so I can find out what happens.

See review at The BiblioSanctum