23 November 2014

Review: Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch

I bought this book from Waterstones

Foxglove Summer
Ben Aaronovitch
Gollancz, October 2014
Hardback, 394 pages (Waterstones edition with extra short story)

In this fifth Peter Grant book, Aaronovitch is on top form, as is Peter. Two girls have gone missing in Herefordshire, and Grant heads out of the city to investigate any Folly-related aspects of the case. It's a refreshing change from London, for us and him, and a nice departure in a sub-genre where - implicitly or explicitly - serious business ends at the M25.

So, here, while Peter is very much "of London" and the strapline on the cover - "Two missing children. One lost copper" - hints that he may be out of his depth - he isn't fazed by being in the countryside, and instead shows the same professional approach to policing (natural and supernatural) as in the previous books, getting himself attached first to the missing girls' families as a liaison officer and then working methodically as part of the enquiry. I always enjoy Aaronovitch's refreshing alternative to the "lone gun" stereotype of crime fiction (or for that matter, the "lone wand" model of supernatural fiction!)

As a reader of Phil Rickman's Merrily Watkins series (about a vicar who investigates mysteries in her role as diocesan exorcist) which are set in the same area, I did wonder if there'd be any crossover... and indeed, at one point Grant is told he should talk to the local vicar... but, probably wisely, this doesn't go any further (Ben/ Phil - maybe though, one day, we could have short story...?)

The book is to some degree also fairly standalone within its series, with little need to have read the previous books (though Beverley Brook does turn up to help Peter). Given events in Broken Homes, Lesley Sharp is off the scene and Nightingale is tied up at the Folly. So there's not much development of the ongoing "faceless man" theme (though we do finally discover what actually happended at Ettersburg).

In all, a good addition to the series, broadening its range and showing that Aaronovitch still has a great deal to do with these characters - it's far from running out of steam (indeed the climax rather depends on it).

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