If you are into both detective fiction and supernatural adventure stories, then we’d be surprised if you haven’t at least heard of the Peter Grant novels. The long-running series has recently spawned its own comic book spin-offs and novellas, and a TV show is currently in development. Lies Sleeping is the seventh novel is the series proper, and we're happy to report that it’s still as fresh as ever.
Peter Grant novels typically start with some sort of incident that can only Falcon - the Metropolitan Police’s own specialist supernatural crime division - can handle. This time though, we are pretty much thrown straight into the over-arching plot from the previous books. The mysterious Faceless Man, the villain from the last six books or so, is the focus of a major sting operation. This means changes for the team. It’s nice to see how things have developed.
In the first book of the series, Peter Grant was a humble Police Constable, still wet around the ears. By book seven he’s made it to Detective and regularly taking swims in rivers. His magical abilities are accomplished and reliable. His mentor, DCI Nightingale, also feels much more powerful in both confidence and magical might. Even their cosy little headquarters, The Folly, has become a full-on operational centre, with everyday crimefighting professionals rubbing shoulders with the casual creepiness that lies in The Folly. This makes for solid development of the series; after all, the characters must progress at some point, and it’s been a joy so far to watch them strive through every little setback.
Aaronovitch melds the magical and mundane extremely well. There’s a good mix of ‘London practicality’ and ‘unimaginable terror’ here; this isn’t a world where everyone can take the idea that magic is a real thing in their stride. Fear of the unknown keeps things in the margins, which provides a backdrop for the main characters' struggles. Practical policing versus existential horror, to put in another way.
Lies Sleeping doesn’t try to catch up new readers, which is quite right (though if this sounds like your thing, do go and read Rivers of London first). The plot dives straight into strands from the previous titles, tying up plots going all the way back to book one whilst fraying new threads to keep the intrigue going. The pace is solid and steady, the action is as thrilling as ever and the whole thing ticks along like an old yet exciting friend. It would be unfair to call this more of the same, as the story delivers many answers. And at the same time, asks plenty of questions.
A must for fans of the series so far and, as always, we can’t wait to read the next one.
LIES SLEEPING / AUTHOR: BEN AARONOVITCH / PUBLISHER: GOLLANCZ / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW