Peter Grant is a young copper in the Met who's waiting on his first real posting after training and beat cop duty. Then he sees a ghost at a murder scene. He's seconded to the unpromising-sounding Economic and Specialist Crime team, and soon finds that he's been apprenticed to a one-man magical police task force, and to the last warranted wizard attached to New Scotland Yard, Thomas Nightingale. Rivers of London follows Grant as he begins his apprenticeship, works on a series of violent crimes linked to a long-dead actor, and slowly becomes embroiled in the occult underworld and the river deities of London.
Aaronovitch's first Peter Grant adventure (a sequel, Moon Over Soho, is also available) is a zippy, accomplished book which neatly straddles the police procedural / comic novel / urban fantasy genres, with a little bit of psychogeography / deep topography thrown in for good measure. The jokes are genuinely good, there's a nice sense of engagement with London's past and present alike. The policework details feel genuine and well-observed and Aaronovitch has a vivid and accurate sense of London's layout and of the diversity of city life in the early 21st century. There are plenty of pop-culture asides for SF/horror/fantasy fans (there are hat-tips along the way to everything from Death Line to City of Vice) plus there's enough that's new here to make this a creditable addition to the slew of novels over the years that have sought to engage with London Other. Recommended.
Arronovitch, Ben. 2011. Rivers of London (London: Gollancz), 390 pages, 978-0575097582