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Midnight Riot [Mass Market Paperback]

Ben Aaronovitch
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 1 2011 Peter Grant
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.

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Review

“Fresh, original and a wonderful read. I loved it.”—Charlaine Harris

Midnight Riot is what would happen if Harry Potter grew up and joined the Fuzz. It is a hilarious, keenly imagined caper.”—Diana Gabaldon

“Filled with detail and imagination . . . Aaronovitch is a name to watch.”—Peter F. Hamilton

“The perfect blend of CSI and Harry Potter.” --io9.com

“Aaronovitch has created a fun and funny character in Grant, who displays wit more than snark (a welcome attitude) and shows he can think on his feet. . . . It's a great start to what will hopefully be a long series of adventures.”--SFrevu.com

About the Author

Ben Aaronovitch was born in London in 1964 and had the kind of dull routine childhood that drives a man to drink or to science fiction. He is a screenwriter, with early notable success on BBC television’s legendary Doctor Who, for which he wrote some episodes now widely regarded as classics, and which even he is quite fond of. He has also penned several groundbreaking TV tie-in novels. After a decade of such work, he decided it was time to show the world what he could really do and embarked on his first serious original novel. The result is Midnight Riot, the debut adventure of Peter Grant.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A word of advice April 11 2013
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you have read and thoroughly enjoyed "Rivers of London" then do not purchase "Midnight Riot" as it is the same book published under a different title.
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By Alison S. Coad TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"Midnight Riot" is the American title of the much better named "Rivers of London," by Ben Aaronovitch. We meet Peter Grant, a mixed-race police officer in London who is assigned to work with Inspector Nightingale, who is a one-man unit dedicated to investigating supernatural crimes, with which London is rife if one knows how to look. When formerly peaceable individuals suddenly start killing perfect strangers or even their own children, following which act the murderers' faces more or less turn inside out, it is up to Nightingale and Grant to discover the cause. But Grant is very new to magic and has a tremendous amount to learn before he can do his new job, and Nightingale is not the most patient of teachers.... I've read a number of "supernatural London" stories, by people like Neil Gaiman and China Mieville, and I'm happy to add Ben Aaronovitch to that list. His style is breezy verging on the sarcastic, and his characters are many and colourful, particularly the personifications of the myriad London rivers and streams, many of whom seem to be sassy young Black women and devious old Gypsy men. This is the first book in a projected series and I look forward to reading more about Peter and his mentor/boss Nightingale. Recommended - but if you find the much superior English title, "Rivers of London," I'd suggest picking that title over the clunky and not-all-that-accurate US title!
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Ordinary police constable Peter Grant takes a witness statement from a ghost, and ends up trying to solve a magical case. I liked the mix of the whodunnit with magic. Also, Aaronovitch seems to be a little in love with London as a city, and the way he writes it's easy to fall in love too. I also really liked how it's a modern, complex, multiracial setting. Peter's dad is a cockney jazz musician with a methadone habit, his mum is an office cleaner from Sierra Leone. And Peter's sidekick Constable Lesley May is a hoot, as is Chief Inspector Nightingale, the last practicing wizard in England (at least until Peter and Lesley come along).
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  211 reviews
54 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars London starring. Feb. 13 2011
By J. Shurin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Rivers of London is the long-awaited original series from popular TV and tie-in writer Ben Aaronovitch. A darkly comedic police procedural, Rivers is a deliciously more-ish book that is nearly impossible to put down.

The book (and presumably, the forthcoming series) features Peter Grant, a somewhat mediocre police officer who suddenly discovers that he's, well, magical. Or at least, suddenly aware of the magical. Young Grant was on the fast track to a bureaucratic desk job, but now his life is much, much more interesting. Grant is poached for duty by Chief Inspector Nightingale, the Met's divisional head (and the entire division) for Creepy Magical Stuff.

It all happens just in time. The Rivers of London, at least, their magical embodiments, are having a turf war - it is in the pushing and shoving phase, but still, if it goes wrong, the city will be in bad shape. Grant is also juggling a second supernatural case - a nasty serial-killer of a poltergeist is beating people to death and making their faces fall off.

The Occult Detective has transformed into a recognisable genre stereotype. The 'O.D.' generally has a supernatural knack but, more commonly, solves problems through fast talking, "people skills" and general cunning. He's a bit of an outsider, something exacerbated by the fact that he Knows stuff that The Rest of Us don't. He's the tarnished knight type - cynical due to the problems in his own past. And 98% percent of the time? He wears a long coat.

Peter Grant (and CDI Nightingale) are the most recent branches of the motley family tree that includes Felix Castor, Harry Dresden, Johns Taylor, Constantine and Silence, and even, arguably, Doctor Who. All slightly-detached, urbane fellows with an outsider complex, floor-length coats and a knack of spotting solutions from a Lovecraftian angle. If Peter Grant bucks the trend, it is only because he still wears his patrolman's uniform.

If anything, Grant is a little too much of an outsider. He blithely strolls through the book with a clinical detachment that borders on the unflappable - even when he's caught on fire or, you know, someone's face falls off. Part of it is Mr. Aaronovitch's humorously objective writing style - but there are still points where I wanted to check the lead for a pulse. Like Constantine or Castor, Grant needs the occasional smack to remind him that he's still part of the human race - but unlike those two, it isn't rooted in cynicism, more an airy casual acceptance of events that is, at times, even more alien.

Where Mr. Aaronovitch separates his work from the trench-coated crowd is with his depiction of London. I'm a PROUD LONDONER (e.g. I moved here ten years ago, still cheer for foreign sports teams and will inevitably move to the suburbs as soon as I save up the money) and was wildly pleased to see proper descriptions of MY city.

Physically, emotionally and historically, Mr. Aaronovitch captures the unglamorous essence of urban London life. From stumbling over drunks to sweating on the tube, the informative plaques on every paving stone and the insane difficulty of Central London driving... this is the city in all of its banal glory. John Constantine and Felix Castor wander through Londons soaked through with mysticism - Peter Grant patrols streets with lined with CCTV and German tourists. Grant's detachment helps convey his (and, clearly, Mr. Aaronovitch's) love/hate relationship with the city as well. It is insane, clunky and messy, but who could possibly imagine living anywhere else?

Peter Grant is a late, and welcome, addition to a long line of irritable, sartorially-questionable saviours. If the he doesn't seem to be taking things too seriously... and the entire narrative style is a bit tongue in cheek... and the setting is a bit grittier than expected... that all sums up to an entertaining atmosphere that keeps the pages turning. There may be not a lot of thriller-style tension, but there is a lot of action, all excellently orchestrated in the streets and streams of London.
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A different London, a different underworld Feb. 22 2012
By H Waterhouse - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Peter Grant is a London police officer going on with his ordinary life. He has a washed-up jazz artist father, a complicated African mother, and a female best friend and lust object. He is also curious and highly distractible. I found this a sympathetic character trait. On a night much like any other, he is standing around at a crime scene when a ghost tells him about the murder most foul, as ghosts are wont to do. His life gets a lot more complicated all of a sudden, what with a smelly ghost-finding dog, a strangely ageless magical mentor, and an assignment to the X Files of the London constabulary.

I bought this book because the publishers made a questionable decision about the cover. There has been some awareness on the parts of the internet that I frequent that publishers targeting American audiences "whitewash" their covers. The most famous example that I can think of was Justine Larbalestier's Liar, which is about a biracial protaganist. The original proposed cover showed a white girl. The publisher was convinced to change the cover, but it took some doing. There are pictures of the original and modified covers of the Aaronovitch books at Neth Space. In researching the whitewashing, I thought the book sounded interesting, and bought the first one. 26 hours and some lost sleep later, I bought the second one. One of the blurbs said it was like "Harry Potter meets CSI". I thought it was more like "Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality meet Sherlock".

I liked Midnight Riot for many of the same reasons I liked Laura Bickle's Embers: the sense of place and space is palpable. Bickle's protaganist, Anya, lives in the current Detroit, a once-great city suffering through very hard times. Her details about empty blocks, shuttered buildings, and potholed roads give a good grounding to the otherworldliness of the action. Similarly, Aaronovitch's London is not an idealized London, or a sketchily detailed Major City. If this book were a TV show, it would be hard to film in Vancouver, because it is so very much about place, and neighborhood, and history. This is the London I catch glimpses of from the BBC, full of kebab stands and chavs and trainers and sewers and public transit. I think this would be a difficult book to read if you did not have that ability, beloved of scifi and fantasy readers, to just accept that you don't know all the words and probably you'll get them from context.

Peter Grant knows the city as a beat cop. He identifies everywhere he goes on a sliding scale of how many drunks he has rousted and fights he has broken up. Places can be historic, or architectural, but he is always evaluating them first in terms of public safety. Even when he is having a mind-blowing tryst with a new lover, he notes the fire escapes and weak points of the flat. He walks into rooms and scans them for threats, he is always aware of his surroundings with the police part of his brain.

He is also always aware of his surroundings in a racial way. It's not like he's a seething ball of biracial resentment, he just notices that he moves through a racial society. When he has had a rough day and is taking the Tube home, he watches people try to evaluate whether he seems more or less threatening than the homeless man. When he agrees to apprentice to a magical trainer, he refuses to address him as "Master", because while it might be traditional, he can't help hearing it as "Massa", and he will not do it. It reminded me, in a way, of walking around as a woman, and the thousand calculations that I make and almost don't notice I'm making them, thinking about keeping an eye on strangers who get into my personal space, and who to sit next to on the train, and how vulnerable I look when I'm walking, and where I could head for if I needed help. I am by no means a woman nervous of the big city, nor do I think I'm afraid, and I may not even be alert, but I am aware. Midnight Riot made me think about how that awareness might look on a different axis.

The language delighted me. There were little poem fragments scattered all through it, not as actual quotations, but as the sort of side reference-in joke that pop culture ends up being transmitted as. For example, there is a flip reference to "some corner which forever", in reference to the Rupert Brooke poem, The Soldier. Also, his ghost/magic sensitive dog is of the little yappy variety, and he identifies magic intensity he encounters by the "milliyap", as measured by how much the dog is likely to react to it. It's not obtrusive, not Pratchett-like levels of self-aware flipness, just the kind of language play and use that my friends and I sometimes indulge in.

I thought the plot was not astonishing. This is not a book you read for the tight, mechanical, magical interlocking plot points. It loafs along with the easy inevitability of Agatha Christie mystery. A bad person does something wrong, and our hero, by application of his unique personal skills, solves it in a way that no one else could have. Grant's unique skills include magic, a passion for the scientific method, and a millenial's facility with technology. Oh, and a hummingbird-like distractability. He is no respecter of tradition, which makes his mentor more than a little irritated, but his wildcat style works for him.

The plot is not the story's heart, though. The actual passion of the story is split between the setting, both real and mystical, of London, and the character development of a nice-enough guy who is trying to figure out how to be the best copper he can be. The setting is rich and surprising and charming. The guy is not at all rich, but somewhat surprising and quite charming. And the story has that sort of roll and rhythm that makes you keep telling yourself "just one more chapter".

Read if: you like police procedurals, the Lord Darcy books, urban fantasy about actual places, and drawing maps in your head.
Skip if: you don't like first-person narrators, or mystery stories. You would rather not read about gritty London as seen through the eyes of a police constable old enough to be cynical.
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Completely enjoyable new paranormal series Jan. 20 2011
By Justin G. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
In Midnight Riot, the debut novel by Ben Aaronovitch, Peter Grant is a "copper," a newly-minted London bobby who's just not that good at it. His career seems headed for the paperwork brigade until, when investigating a strange murder, he gets a tip from a bizarre informant - a local ghost. Grant is soon noticed by Thomas Nightingale, a one-man paranormal investigative unit in the London police department. Once you get past the obligatory "yes (young protagonist), magic is REAL" moment, Grant is apprenticed to Nightingale, who sets out to teach him about magic and how to police the various supernatural creatures that populate London, all the while trying to track down a spectral killer who is wreaking bloody havoc on a seemingly random array of innocent bystanders.

Throughout this novel I was reminded of both Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series and Neil Gaiman's American Gods: A Novel. Like Butcher, Aaronovitch's characters are vivid, unforgettable, and manage to hook you in very little time. Like American Gods, key figures of mythology factor into the story, if only in a supporting role. There's also a Bones/Law & Order vibe that makes me think this was written with a TV adaptation in mind. Aaronovitch keeps things light and humorous, even when the events are anything but, and he's got a great sense of pacing. He also sets the stage for what one hopes will be many more supernatural adventures in Peter Grant's London.

It's not without a few flaws (nothing a more thorough editing job wouldn't fix, anyway), but Midnight Riot was an absolute blast to read and was more than enough to convince me to sign on to Peter Grant's adventures for the long haul. If you're a fan of the kind of paranormal adventures Jim Butcher, Kim Harrison and Harry Connelly dish out, you'll definitely want to add Midnight Riot to your "must read" list.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Loads of fun, this debut novel will leave you delighted! Jan. 20 2011
By K. Sozaeva - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
"Midnight Riot" introduces us to rookie constable Peter Grant. He is learning the ropes in London when, one night, he sees a ghost. From that point, his life will never be the same, because he has come to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale. Nightingale covers the "strange" cases that come into the precinct and he is also a wizard - and he says that Grant has the potential to be a wizard, too, which will bring the wizards in London up to two. Grant enters a world he never knew existed and begins his training as a wizard as he continues to progress as a policeman.

While the book has its flaws - the fact that the story is told completely by Grant from his point of view tends to make all the characters sound the same, since they are all being reported in his "voice," for one, and his constant use of the grammatically incorrect "me and X" for another - the concept is fresh and fun and NOTHING like Harry Potter!! If you like police procedurals, mysteries, thrillers, urban fantasy and/or magical reality, you should enjoy this book. Fans of The Dresden Files particularly should find this story entertaining. give it a read!!
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Midnight Riot Feb. 16 2011
By P. Bergbauer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Midnight Riot
By: Ben Aaronovitch

Constable Peter Grant becomes an apprentice to Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale who investigates crimes involving magic and other strange and unusual happenings.
For me, Midnight Riot was an entertaining read.
I really enjoyed the main character, Peter Grant. His voice and dialog was real and expressive. The other characters propel the story forward. For me this was a character driven novel, where every character made me want to read the pages faster to see what was going to happen next.

The humor written here is understated, but very amusing.
Ben Aaronovitch writes a good mystery/police procedural in the urban fantasy genre. I look forward to reading the second in this series, Moon Over Soho, due out in March.
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