Review: London Falling by Paul Cornell

April 16, 2013 Review 5

Review: London Falling by Paul CornellLondon Falling by Paul Cornell
Published by Tor on 4/16/2013
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 352
Source: NetGalley
Sexual Content: N/A
Reviewed by: Chris
4 Stars

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.

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5 Responses to “Review: London Falling by Paul Cornell”

  1. Bibliotropic

    I keep being of two minds about this one. One one hand, I keep hearing good reviews for “London Falling,” which is a good thing. On the other hand, it’s a bit of a departure from the stuff I normally read, which means that I might not enjoy it as much as many of these reviews are leading me to believe I will. I have a copy, but I still can’t decide if I want to tackle it sooner or wait until I’ve exhausted other options for reading material.

    But then again, I’ve discovered some really awesome books by taking a chance and branching out from what I normally do, so maybe it’s worth it for this one, just the same.

    • Chris

      Going outside your comfort zone for books every once in awhile is a good thing. If nothing else it makes you appreciate the books you like all the more. 🙂

  2. Chase

    What’s up i am kavin, its my first occasion to commenting anywhere, when i read this piece of writing i thought i could also create comment due to this brilliant post.

  3. Meg K

    Great review. I enjoyed London Falling, though it takes a few chapters to get going. There’s quite a bit of police procedural stuff at the beginning, with lots of jargon, but once the supernatural elements are introduced, the story picks up.