Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Whispers Underground by Ben Aaronovitch

It has been well established that I am a big fan of the Peter Grant series. Huge. So take that into consideration when I found this particular book in the series not quite as much fun as the first two. Still fun, still worth a read, but somehow, a little lacking.

My husband found the same thing (and he's a fan too), or else I would start to suspect this was because I read Whispers Underground in a very unusual way. That is to say, all at once. I haven't done that in years, ever since I realized that when I read a book all in one day, it fades much more quickly in my memory than one I read over several days. I read very quickly, so I arbitrarily started to put limits on how much of a book I would read in a day. (As a general rule, not much more than 100 pages.) This meant the number of books I was reading simultaneously started to balloon. But I have been remembering more. Reading over more than one day allows characters and plot and prose to seep into my long-term memory, to be built upon the next day by the next installment.

All that is to say, I was proctoring an exam this week, brought this book along, and before the evening was over, had almost plowed through the whole thing. So I'm not entirely sure if the way this book is slipping away from me more quickly says something about the book, or about how fast I read it.

At any rate, this was still a fun entry. I liked many things about it! But somehow, it wasn't quite as engrossing. And weirdly, the back cover blurb promised a conflict that was in no way present in the book. From an earlier draft, perhaps? But it's weird when you're expecting evangelical Christian dislike of Peter, and it never ever shows up. I didn't really want it, wasn't disappointed to not have it, but when I was all steeled for it, it was a little weird.

I was glad Leslie was back! Not enough Dr. Walid, though. Or Toby, really. And was it just me, or was Zach pretty much just a slightly less reputable Ash? I liked the new cops, and Abigail.

In this one, a young art student is found dead on the tracks of a subway tunnel. Stabbed, repeatedly. And the murder weapon has a distinctly magical aura about it. So Peter gets called in, along with Leslie, to see what they can find. I quite enjoyed the straightforward mystery in this one. Turns out the student is the son of an American state senator, so a lone FBI agent is sent over to poke her nose in where it isn't wanted. She becomes distinctly suspicious of Peter, although without the promised Christian prejudice, this is a little out of left field. But in the end, I liked her.

At the same time, Nightingale and Peter and Leslie are all trying to track down the Faceless Man, starting with whoever may have trained him. I won't give away how that progresses in this novel, but it was interesting. And the new magical beings introduced in this one are an intriguing addition.

So, in the end, I still liked this entry into the series quite a lot, but not quite as much as the first two. I am looking forward to the third, though!

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