Genres: Urban Fantasy
Published by Tor on 4/16/2013
Reviewed by: Chris
Police officers Quill, Costain, Sefton, and Ross know the worst of London—or they think they do. While investigating a mobster's mysterious death, they come into contact with a strange artifact and accidentally develop the Sight. Suddenly they can see the true evil haunting London’s streets.
Armed with police instincts and procedures, the four officers take on the otherworldly creatures secretly prowling London. Football lore and the tragic history of a Tudor queen become entwined in their pursuit of an age-old witch with a penchant for child sacrifice. But when London’s monsters become aware of their meddling, the officers must decide what they are willing to sacrifice to clean up their city.
LONDON FALLING is now the second book I've read in the last month about serial killers in London. Which is weird, because until now I couldn't have told you how long it's been since I've read any book with serial killers in them. I'm not sure what my point is other than to say that at no time during the book did I feel I was treading on familiar ground. Normally when I read similar books I end up putting the second one aside for a bit because it just doesn't feel 'fresh'. LONDON FALLING definitely felt fresh.
What kept this book moving was the great characterization done by Paul Cornell. He struck a great balance between the views of undercover agents Costain and Sefton and Detective Inspector Quill and analyst Lisa Ross. I loved how he teased out their backgrounds throughout the book and didn't simply do an infodump of everything as soon as they were introduced. The London of the book could also be considered a character in its own right as it is delightfully dark and twisted.
The book itself starts off towards the end of an undercover investigation in to crime boss Rob Toshack. Our intrepid heroes learn that the criminal's rise to power wasn't entirely natural. They are then put on a special task force investigating the supernatural powers behind the crime boss. The task force quickly finds that the crimes they were targeting Toshack for are nothing compared to what the darker powers have been up to.
The book has some trippy elements (especially involving the characters' Sight), but at its heart LONDON FALLING is a work of crime fiction - even if the crimes are mostly magical in nature. This keeps the plot moving at a brisk pace for almost the entire book. Sadly the last 80 or so pages towards the end slow the story down considerably, but only enough to move my rating for this book down one notch. All in all it's an extremely fun, dark read and I look forward to seeing more books from Cornell. Mysteries in urban fantasy novels are nothing new, but it's always nice to see the crime fiction elements sharing the stage with the supernatural as well as they do here.
Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch