Jazz is one of the most magical forms of music. You take a pattern and make variations on it, turning it into an expression of your very own. In this way, every jazz song is different, and every jazz musician has their own variation on the same songs. In Moon Over Soho, Ben Aaronovitch shows his “chops” and follows a variation of his previous book, Midnight Riot, in a remarkable and highly entertaining way. (Speaking of Midnight Riot, if you haven’t read it, stop here and go do so. A couple of spoilers from Peter Grant’s first adventure follow. Moving along…)
The story begins as Peter gets called in to “listen” to a musician who died of an apparent heart attack. Peter recognizes the tune, and begins his search into the heart of Soho, the Jazz center of London. Through the course of his investigation, he finds out that more musicians have died while on stage, all seemingly drained of life by what he calls a “Jazz Vampire.” While investigating this peculiar case, he still is working on the case we left off on in Midnight Riot, working with the Murder Team to find a rather cruel creature who painfully kills single men in a very unpleasant way. All of this adds up to a complete handful for Inspector Grant, who also has to juggle his apprentice magician training, a steamy affair with a possible suspect, and the recovery of a close friend. On top of all of this, this is his first supernatural mission somewhat alone, as Peter’s superior and master, Thomas Nightingale, is also recovering from Peter’s first real case.
As I stated before, Aaronovitch writes this one with a variation to how he wrote Midnight Riot. Where the previous book was heavy police procedural with magic and local history thrown in, this one is high on magic and history (jazz history) with bits of procedural writing to keep things together. It works out quite well, as the plot pushes you from chapter to chapter rather quickly. This book took me no time to read, but it had my attention the entire time.
If there’s one thing negative I could say about the second Peter Grant novel, it’s that you really need to read Midnight Riot first. Character connections have already been built, and plot devices have already been set by the time you begin Moon Over Soho, so things can be a bit confusing if you don’t already know what’s going on. Certain things and characters (Molly for example) are described in much more detail in the first book, so reading them out of order would be much less enjoyable.
Aaronovitch definitely did his research for these two books, and it seriously pays off. His next book in the Peter Grant series, Whispers Under Ground, will be available January, 2012, and I for one can’t wait. Midnight Riot hooked me on this series, but Moon Over Soho reeled me in. If you like urban fantasy, you will love this series. If you don’t like urban fantasy, pick up Midnight Riot and Moon Over Soho anyway. They are great “gateway” books.
[tags]reviews, Ben Aaronovitch, Peter Grant, Urban Fantasy, Magic, Magician[/tags]