Unfortunately I’m not much keener on PC Peter Grant in the second of Ben Aaronovitch’s book than I am of him in ‘Rivers of London’. He is less boring in ‘Moon Over Soho’, but not by much. Everything interesting about this character comes from his interaction with other characters who are interesting and engaging. His only redeeming feature is that he is genuinely a very nice and decent bloke.
I think my main problem with him is that he is incredibly swallow. It’s a theme that comes from ‘Rivers of London’ and is seen an a regular basis in ‘Moon Over Soho’; he likes his women beautiful. Admittedly the character is well aware that he is swallow, but that doesn’t really help me like him very much. In the first book he doesn’t like being in the ‘friendzone’ with one of his colleagues, Leslie May who is dedicated to her job and helps Peter as much as possible. He says there is unresolved sexual tension; in my opinion she likes hanging out with her friend who she doesn’t view in a sexual way, but as a professional colleague.
In the second book her ends up in a relationship with a woman who is mostly described by how she looks and how much she likes cake; the only time her interests in Jazz come up is because she brings it up in the conversation. And to be honest the less I say about the completely unrealistic sexual encounters they have the better. Magic might be involved, at some level, but I doubt and even if it was I still don’t thing it would help with the time the character says he’s dedicating to the activities.
Besides my major problems with the main character, ‘Moon Over Soho’ is a better book than ‘Rivers Over London’. The plot still isn’t as tight as I would expect, and if I’m entirely honest I’m not sure how some of the plot is actually connected together. Given this is something that I’m usually very good at with books and films, I’m not sure how Aaronovitch has managed to allude me quite so well.
The plot though is fairly interesting because it is about the history of the Jazz Scene in London, in particular in Soho, which brings Peter’s parents into story a lot more. It is also more about the magical community in the past but also in the present, and who else there might be out there beside Inspector Nightingale. His character and story is a lot better than in the previous book. Before he was a dull wizard; now he’s a wizard who has a lot of grief in his past, he’s older than he looks and he is facing the possibility of having to go up against wizards who practice Black Magic and have been doing so for decades. In truth I can’t wait for that storyline to develop further.
There’s not much more I can really say; I’m still not keen on the main character, but the premise of the books as being crime with a magical twist do make then worth reading. There is enough imagination there in the stories as well as some great characters for Peter to interact with, but I still feel the execution of the writing could be a lot better.