Rivers of London  - Ben Aaronovitch Note: This book is AKA Midnight Riot in the US. Review originally posted at The BiblioSanctum.

I didn't even get past a quarter of the way through this book before I thought to myself, "Okay, this one is totally going on my 'favorites' shelf." In a word, it was fun. So, so fun. I really can't think of any other book in recent memory that has made me laugh out loud so much.

It definitely helps if you're a fan of the kind of paranormal action-adventures by Jim Butcher or similar authors, but somehow, I think even non-readers of the urban fantasy genre would enjoy this book. First of all, I don't even know if "urban fantasy" would most accurately describe it, as there is also so much of the book that sets it apart and makes it an original and refreshing read.

I suppose it's best to describe Rivers of London as a police procedural mixed with a heavy dose of the supernatural, topped with a dash of dark comedy, mystery and action. The book features Peter Grant, a London Metropolitan Police constable fresh out of probationary hoping to be assigned a decent permanent post, until one day while working on a case he finds himself encountering a ghost. His impromptu interview with the dead witness brings him to the attention of detective Thomas Nightingale, who is also a wizard and the only member of the Met's little-known paranormal investigative unit. Peter becomes Nightingale's apprentice, and soon the two are running all over the city trying to solve a series of murders involving exploding faces.

The book is also almost like a love letter to London. Rich descriptions of the city's history, landmarks and architecture fill its pages, instilling everything with feeling and practically making the setting itself a character all its own. And I haven't even gotten around to talking about all of the rivers in and around London being personified as semi-divine spirits, which I feel is probably one of the most unique and defining concepts in the novel.

As the main protagonist and narrator, Peter Grant pretty much single-handedly made this book amazing for me. I love his dry British wit. I love the unruffled way he approaches weird X-Files moments like ghosts and exploding faces with nothing more than a shrug and a c'est la vie. I love the fact that he is inherently a "good guy" who wants to be a policeman for the right reasons. I love that he tries to approach magic with a scientific mind.

It is that last point about Peter that really resonated with me, because I'd like to think I would react much the same way in his shoes. Also, it is the "science-y" bits in Rivers of London that in my opinion roots the story more to reality than a lot of other books in the genre. That said, sometimes the magic system still has that unfinished, not-entirely-developed feel to it, but I imagine this will be further explored in subsequent novels in the series. Speaking of which, I'm off to find the sequel.