Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Book Review - Whispers Underground

Whispers Underground by Ben Aaronovitch
Whispers Under Ground

Review by Jacqui Slaney


I purchased this book as soon as it was released, but I promised myself that I would wait, and not rush to read it as I did have numerous other books waiting on the shelf. Whom was I kidding?

Peter Grant is learning magic fast. And its just as well - he's already had run ins with the deadly supernatural children of the Thames and a terrifying killer in Soho. Progression in the Police Force is less easy. Especially when you work in a department of two. A department that does not even officially exist. A department that if you did describe it to most people would get you laughed at. And then there is his love life. The last person he fell for ended up seriously dead. It was not his fault, but still.
Now something horrible is happening in the labyrinth of tunnels that make up the tube system that honeycombs the ancient foundations of London. And delays on the Northern line is the very least of it. Time to call in the Met's Economic and Specialist Crime Unit 9, aka 'The Folly'. Time to call in PC Peter Grant, Britain’s Last Wizard.

I was slightly concerned that having enjoyed the first two books so much, that the quality of this third instalment might slip slightly, how wrong could I be. Anyone who has travelled on the underground knows that the empty platforms can be creepy, after reading this book, I would definitely think twice about looking or going anywhere near those dark tunnels hearing strange noises… 

The story starts with Peter being pestered by a relative to go look at a ghost on a railway tracks and from there to being called in by the Murder squad to go look at a dead body in Baker Street. At first it seems that there is nothing strange involved with the death, but after finding a shard of pottery, he realises that there is magic involved and finds himself temporary assigned to the Murder Squad, where he meets a FBI agent who has also been attached to the case, because the dead body was an American Senators son. The story then centres round the sewers and underground systems of London, as Peter, Lesley and Nightingale try to solve the mysteries of this death and still track down the rogue wizard who previously tried to kill Peter.

The plot is fast paced and entertaining. There is more police procedural in this story and less about Peter and now Lesley being taught spells. If you read different reviews about this book, you will see that this has upset a few readers who seem to demand Harry Potter type schooling in each novel. This story is set over seven days before and during a Christmas, so it is hardly surprising that not a lot of time is spent in a classroom.

The character is Peter is as strong as ever and the humour his character brings to the story is excellent. This author is one of the few to make me laugh in public, so be warned that you will attract strange looks on public transport when reading this series.  It is also good to see that the character of Lesley May is much more involved in this book with her now also attached to the Folly as an apprentice much to the disgust of Seawoll! It is interesting to see how Peter’s attitude to her injuries starts to change by the end of the book.

There are some new characters in this book, but the regular ones are also all included. One of whom is Molly, who I admit I would really like to read more of. A character that can wake someone by sheer creepiness by standing in a doorway has to be good!

I was worried that this book would not be as good as the others, but I ended up liking this one more. The writing is a slightly more polished, and the characters now that they are established are more developed.
Though it is possible to read this story first, I would recommend that you read the others first, just so, you can see how all the sub plots develop and you get to know the characters.

10 out of 10