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Don't Be Afraid of the Dork

Covered in dog hair, Obsessed with books, Wondering what it's all about. I suspect the answer is ice cream and the ocean.

Witty and Unique Urban Fantasy

Moon Over Soho - Ben Aaronovitch

Original Publication Year: 2011

Genre(s): Urban Fantasy

Series: Peter Grant #2, Book 1 Review

Awards: None

Format: Audio (from Audible)

Narrated by: Kobna Holdbrook-Smith


This was a series that I read last year that convinced me that I actually do enjoy Urban Fantasy.  It won me over with its mash-up of mystery/police procedural/ paranormal elements, its utterly charming characters and its witty humor.  This is the second book in the series and Peter gets sucked into his Dad’s world when Jazz musicians around London start dying mysteriously after gigs.   


This book has fewer deity diplomacy issues and focuses on the mystery of the musicians.  The solution to this mystery is very unique and creative.  The book also introduces some really interesting developments that were not resolved and likely will be recurring issues in future books.  We get a glimpse into the state of British wizardry before World War II either killed them all or drove them crazy, leaving Nightingale as last man standing.  I think this whole storyline has a lot of potential and it would be cool if it increases Nightingale’s role further. 


As per usual the characters are great.  Peter has a great voice and is this lovely mixture of idealism and honor and cynicism mostly directed at police bureaucracy and the stupidity of the human race.


“It’s a truism in policing that witnesses and statements are fine, but nothing beats empirical physical evidence. Actually it isn’t a truism because most policemen think the word ‘empirical’ is something to do with Darth Vader, but it damn well should be.”



“If you just warn people, they often simply ignore you. But if you ask them a question, then they have to think about it. And once they start to think about the consequences, they almost always calm down.
Unless they're drunk, of course.

Or stoned.

Or aged between fourteen and twenty-one.

Or Glaswegian.”


“Every male in the world thinks he's an excellent driver. Every copper who's ever had to pick an eyeball out of a puddle knows that most of them are kidding themselves.”



The way Aaronovitch writes the police and the policing, right down to the cynicism, feels very authentic and makes me curious if it is based on experience or research and imagination.  Nightingale is laid up for most of this book so is not present as much as I’d like but he and Peter’s relationship as master and apprentice is developing and even some affection is beginning to show.



“For a terrifying moment I thought he was going to hug me, but fortunately we both remembered we were English just in time. Still, it was a close call.”



Finally, Leslie makes a few short appearances and she is often in Peter’s mind.  They are dealing with devastating injury she suffered in the first book and I really like that it is addressed and that Peter remains a good friend to her.  In fact there is a development with Leslie towards at the very end of the book which also promises some interesting directions in future books. 


Kobna Holdbrook-Smith is a terrific narrator and really captures Peter’s voice and handles the humor very well.  I definitely recommend the audio.


FINAL VERDICT: This second book in the series continues to develop the characters in interesting ways, has a creative mystery story of its own and introduces some very intriguing through plot lines.  Part of me wants to read the rest now but the other part doesn’t want to catch up and have no more books to read. 4 out of 5 Stars.