Book Review: Whispers Under Ground / Author: Ben Aaronovitch / Publisher: Gollancz / Release Date: June 21st
When geeks gather, we often like to play a game where we debate which fictional hero would win if we pitted two such characters in mortal combat. Hulk versus Spiderman or Judge Dredd versus Robocop, that sort of thing. Fans of stories featuring supernatural investigators may be tempted to ask who would win in a fight between Harry Dresden and Peter Grant. After reading Whispers Under Ground, there is no doubt in my mind; PC Peter Grant would win hands down over the American.
Ben Aaronovitch’s latest novel is the third in the series that began with Rivers of London (renamed Midnight Riot in the USA for some odd reason), and is lovingly detailed and brilliantly paced. London is an ancient place filled with history and a rich vein for spooky tales and urban grime. Whispers Under Ground is filled with the right mix of supernatural thrills, police procedural drama and geek humour. Expect the odd counter-culture reference here and there, but nothing too obvious or draining, just enough to bring the story into the sort of world the reader lives in.
As you may expect from the title, Whispers Under Ground features that most iconic part of London; the Underground. Not only is it crammed with ideas that will make any rail nerd make little happy sounds, each chapter is also named after a tube stop. (Real train nerds will be able to work out much more besides.) Aaronovitch (whose name may be familiar to fans of McCoy era Doctor Who) improves with each novel he does; this is the best so far, and the previous books were a lot of fun as well.
This book is squarely part of a series, you should absolutely read Rivers of London first, especially if you like your crime thrillers mixed up with the supernatural.