Moon over Soho

I read Moon over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch, and this is my thoughts on it. 

The book
It’s the second book in the Peter Grant series. It’s a book series about a cop and it’s set in London, and relies heavily on the London-ness of the city. The book is set in Soho, and is about jazz musicians who are dying of what seems like natural causes unless you’re a magician, which is what Peter Grant is. He is more specifically a magician apprentice, to Thomas Nightingale, the last magician in Britain. Grant also has a case of men in Soho being killed by having their penises bitten off, and it seems like it’s connected to the jazz cases.

What I thought
I should say first I’m not a big crime fan. I don’t know why. I love crime TV. I don’t know how it works. I mean I love Castle, Rizzoli & Isles. I will watch CSI and Criminal Minds until the cows come home, but I find crime books tedious. I am very easy though, because if you throw some supernatural into crime I will eat it up. I’m a weird person. Anyways, what did I think?

I really liked it. Ben Aaronovitch is a solid writer, the mystery is also really good, which is nice. It’s pretty much the most important thing when you write mystery novels. I didn’t see the twist coming, entirely, I mean, I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t exactly see it coming.

I like Peter Grant, the main character. He’s a flawed character in some ways, which makes me love him more. He seems to be a good cop, although obviously I don’t know much about police work. He is very serious about doing what’s right. He follows procedures, and he works hard. He is black, and while I assume it’s better than it was, it’s probably not the easiest thing in the world to be a black cop in London, so he works hard to disprove people, I guess. Which is quite interesting, because he is a very good cop, and he’s smart. He also makes sort of stupid choices. He sort of puts right over pragmatism. At times, when you’re a magician cop, it’s probably simpler, and better, to choose the smart solution rather than the correct procedure. I feel like I wouldn’t make a very good police officer. Also, banging one of your witnesses isn’t a great career choice. Luckily your boss isn’t going to notice because he doesn’t seem to know how the real world works, that sometimes people don’t do what’s honourable. I really like him though.

I like the weirdness of it. It’s sort of this mix of legends and magic, fairy tale and supernatural, and crime. It’s also interesting to read an ethnic character, I’d like to point out, this is how he refers to himself, and I couldn’t think of a better word, I don’t mean to offend anyone. Peter Grant is half black. His mother is from Sierra Leone, and his dad is white. It’s very much a part of Peter, because he is a part of a very traditional work force. The police force might be seen as a very traditional, slightly bigoted group of people, and it’s not the easiest place for him to work. It’s very much a part of him and how he interacts with his colleagues. He’s very tough and he works hard to prove himself. He’s also from a tougher background, his mother took care of him while his dad was busy playing music and being addicted to heroin. I found it interesting because it’s a different perspective from mine, being white and middle class myself.

I also found the subplot with Peter’s parents were very sweet. After the first death in the novel there’s a band that’s missing a quarter. In his attempt to return to life Peter’s dad, who was a legendary musician before he got fucked up, joins the band as their pianist. And the story of Mr and Mrs Grant sort of finding each other again was very sweet.

I also like that there are limitations to the magic. When Peter discovers his talent he doesn’t just instantly learn/know magic. He needs to learn it, practice it and he messes up a bit because he’s only been at it for a couple of months. I like that he just doesn’t suddenly know everything, which I feel like might be the case in other worlds, the character discovers a talent and suddenly know how to wield it. Not here. Kudos.

Final Thoughts

It’s a lot of fun. I love it. There’s action all the time. There are just sweet and interesting subplots, and it keeps plotlines from the first book going, it doesn’t just drop them like a hot potato (is that a thing? Who knows? If it isn’t, I made it a thing). I really love it, and I will at one point find the others, the rest of them, and keep learning about young Peter.