One the lovely things about an ongoing series is familiarity. If you follow a set of stories set in the same world and created by the same author, reading the book becomes effortless and more pleasurable. Fans of Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant series will be delighted to discover that this latest instalment is just as good a the previous five. Those new to the books (and who for some reason decide to jump in at this point) will also be pleased to learn that this clean and well thought out novel doesn’t require prior knowledge to be fun.
The premise of the Peter Grant books is as follows. In the real world, magic is real. Grant is a Metropolitan police officer who has had the misfortune to encounter magic related crime and has been lucky enough to find a mentor to train him in the mystical arts. Peter is one of only two coppers who wield magic and keep an eye on the horrors that the supernatural can unleash on the unsuspecting (and entirely ignorant) general public. Of course, because Grant is a modern copper, there are plenty of forms, procedures and the like to follow when unleashing spells on a fleeing fairy creature in the middle of Harrods. All of this is part of the charm.
Previous stories have featured Grant’s growing relationship with Beverly Brook, a modern woman who just happens to be a river goddess, and The Hanging Tree explores this further. However, we kick off with an incident involving another river goddess; Tyburn. (Sharp and clever readers will note the connection between the title and river, of course.) Grant is roped in to investigate a death, one that’s the result of magical interference. Over the course of the story, he discovers more magic users, more supernatural beings and more about the shadowy Faceless man, he being responsible for much of havoc in the previous books.
The pace is constant, strong and relentless throughout. Ben Aaronovitch is a master of metropolitan magical mayhem and the action is delightful. This is a tight thriller which is compelling and buckets of fun. If you already know the series, it’s high time you got re-acquainted.
THE HANGING TREE (PETER GRANT #6) / AUTHOR: BEN AARONOVITCH / PUBLISHER: GOLLANCZ / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW