Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.
“Filled with detail and imagination . . . Aaronovitch is a name to watch.”—Peter F. Hamilton
“Fresh, original, and a wonderful read . . . I loved it.”—Charlaine Harris
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Excerpted from "Midnight Riot"
Copyright © 2011 Ben Aaronovitch.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Publishing Group.
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I've always supplemented my nutritious and tasty science fiction and fantasy reading with a healthy dose of crime, and ever since I can remember I've always rooted for the detectives. For me Clarice Starling was the star of Silence of the Lambs, not Hannibal Lector, and while I find the antics of Elmore Leonard's myriad lowlifes amusing I always hanker for the moment when the heavy hand of the law lands on their shoulder and the cuffs go on. In short, my subgenre of choice is what's known as the police procedural, or as the French call it, le policier.
The undisputed king of American procedurals is Evan Hunter, writing under the name of Ed McBain. If you wanted to know the single biggest influence on the Peter Grant books (Midnight Riot and Moon Over Soho, with a third coming this fall), it would be his 87th Precinct novels, which started with Cop Hater in 1956 and continued until Hunter's death in 2005. I challenge anyone to find a fantasy world as lovingly and meticulously created as the unnamed imaginary city in which the 87th Precinct novels take place, and certainly no braver heroes in song and story than the working stiffs who solve the mysteries.
One thing I always remember about the novels is that they contain official-looking forms and interrogation transcripts illustrating police procedure. Under this influence I went forth and delved into the arcane and Byzantine world of London's Metropolitan Police Service, with its AWARE terminals and HOLMES 2 computer systems, the HAT car, MISPERs, FATACs, and every copper's friend, the Evidence and Action Book, which contains all the forms you absolutely have to have filled in before you can book your suspect into the custody suite – even if they're a werewolf.
The 87th Precinct series is also why Peter Grant isn't "the chosen one" or the uniquely gifted child of two warring races, it's why he doesn't have a Maori tattoo and why he carries a standard Metropolitan Police extendable baton, not a katana. It's why he's a hardworking flat-foot who sometimes is deadly afraid when he walks down those mean streets, and yet still does his duty because it's his job and he swore an oath.
I like to think that Detective 2nd Grade Steve Carella and the rest of the boys in the bullpen back at the old 87th would have approved.