Friday, 23 August 2013

Broken Homes

Broken Homes is the fourth book in Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series.  I may not have enjoyed the last two books, Moon Over Soho and Whispers Underground, as much as the first, but I wasn't ready to give up on Peter Gant just yet.

A mutilated body in Crawley.  Another killer on the loose.  The prime suspect is one Robert Weil; an associate of the twisted magician known as the Faceless Man?  Or just a common or garden serial killer?

Before PC Peter Grant can get his head round the case a town planner going under a tube train and a stolen grimoire are adding to his case load.

So far so London.

But then Peter gets word of something very odd happening in Elephant and Castle, on a housing estate designed by a nutter, built by charlatans and inhabited by the truly desperate.

Is there a connection?

And if there is, why oh why did it have to be South of the River?
I was disappointed to find that the first half of Broken Homes was a convoluted mess. Complicated and jumbled, there were so many plot elements, most dropped within a blink of an eye, that I had a hard time keeping track of what was going on.  I was losing interest up until Peter and Leslie moved into an apartment on a housing estate.  Finally the case (or cases?  I lost track) became a lot more interesting and coherent.  This was the turning point for the whole book, and suddenly I couldn't put Broken Homes down.  I think that Aaronovitch has a reverse Steven Moffat writing style, in that he's not very good at setting a story up, but boy can he finish one (Moffat's intro of a two-part Doctor Who episode are mostly better than the conclusion).  I would have been in for a shock if only I hadn't got bored in the beginning and read the last page...With all the possibilities that have been set in motion, I am actually looking forward to the next instalment.

I also have to point out that, as always, Aaronovitch's knowledge of the history of London oozes through his prose; no chapter is left without a historical fact.  I just wish that he would be more forthcoming with the history of his characters.  Admittedly Broken Homes does reveal a few pieces of info here and there, but I'm greedy.  Can I have some more please?

If you've enjoyed the series so far, then you're going to love Broken Homes.  However, if like me, you've not been impressed with the last couple of books, try and stick with this latest Peter Gant adventure until the end, I promise that those last few chapters are worth it.

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