On to Book Two! So, after quite enjoying Rivers of London, the set-up more than the actual plot perhaps, I decided to try the second book in the series and see how it developed.
We pick up just after Rivers finishes. PC Peter Grant is driving down to Essex to visit his old WPC mate Lesley May who suffered a catastrophic injury at the end of the first book and is trying to come to terms with it. She’s in comparatively good spirits but Grant’s almost relieved to be called back to London to deal with a suspicious murder in Soho – a jazz saxophonist who fell down dead right after a performance. As it turns out, he’s just the first in a long line of London jazz musicians who have died mysteriously over the last five years, their deaths all coming within hours of a gig.
I found myself enjoying this instalment more than its predecessor. The magical world was already set up and the plot was much less convoluted, perhaps a little easy to predict, but in the lead-up to the Man Booker longlist I was quite glad for a light read. Grant is an engaging main character, though he makes so many terrible decisions that you have to wonder whether he’s not a liability with his haphazard magical skills. He also has zero willpower when it comes to women which lands him in even more trouble in this novel than in the first. We also learn more about Peter’s parents, especially his jazz musician father who he turns to for help with the investigation. I liked these scenes and felt they added another dimension to the book outside of the Folly. I was also grateful for more of Stephanopoulos who, in the absence of Lesley, was the only person who seemed capable of keeping an eye on Peter.
One of the features of a good series is that really there should be enough carrying through from the previous book, and some unresolved issues to give the reader a nudge on to the next. I didn’t think that there was too much going over of old material and there are a couple of great set-ups that had me logging on to reserve the next instalment from the library immediately (another benefit of coming to a series late is that you have a pile of books to look forward to!). What I’m hoping for is a bit of growing up from Peter (who, when you think about it, is just your typical mid-twenties bloke so I should cut him some slack) and I have high hopes for Lesley May. I missed her a little and she would definitely have stopped Peter from making quite so many daft errors. I’ll be picking this up alongside Paul Auster’s 4,3,2,1 – some light relief for when the weighty tome becomes too much!