Friday, 28 March 2014

Whispers Underground by Ben Aaronovitch

The third book in it's series, Whispers Underground is genuinely brilliant. The series follows Peter Grant, a probationary police officer in London, and his introduction into the folly under the supervision of Inspector Nightingale, the last magician in the met.
In book three, Peter is called to Baker Street tube station, where under the watchful gaze of Sherlock Holmes- the statue not the fictional character- he is involved with an investigation into the death of James Gallagher, son of an American senator. But unlike the investigations of the fictional detective, this story isn't wrapped up in a moment of genius deduction. The story follows a realistic metropolitan police investigation. And, without giving away the plot, the story wouldn't work without this factor.

Now, I think I'll do the negatives first. When I bought the series, it said it was 'the perfect series for a young adult'. When I read that, I didn't realise what it meant. Boy do I now! Literally, the language in these books would make a stereotypical sailor blush! Every page has at least one swear word on, and when Inspector Seawoll speaks, well let's just say, he'd never get a job on the BBC!
That obviously ways the book down a little bit, as it limits the audience of the book. It's written in a way that ten years and onwards would enjoy, but it's just far too rude!
Another downside is a scene where Peter hallucinates four hundred years into the past. It slows down the plot, so not so enjoyable, especially as it happens as the adventure gets to an all time high!
Apart from that, I hardly have any more criticisms. Apart from, maybe, that the authors second name is a chore to write- especially with autocorrect- so I have to type Ben, which makes it sound informal!

Now for the positives! I'll start with 'Bens' writing. It's brilliant. As weird as it sounds, he writes like a conversation with your grandfather. He starts to tell you a story, but ends up giving you information about everything he talks about. The writers knowledge of London is clear in this book, as he delights in telling you the architectural history of every building that he visits, which gives a clear understanding of the setting. One of my favourite things is the way in which he describes the metropolitan police. One of the integral things in the story is the Holmes system, so named as they couldn't find an acronym that spelt Sherlock. As ridiculous as this may sound, it's true, and is only a tiny bit of the interesting information you learn throughout this and the other books in the Peter Grant Series. The author does a superb job of self narrating the story, making the story both fun, interesting and most importantly, relatable. There's a brilliant moment when he exits the sewers, where he discovers something quite important. Instead of reacting out of fear, curiosity or sheer amazement, he complains about how tired he is. This is also reflected in the way that people still suffer from past injuries from previous books.
The magic in the series is a key element, as it provides something for the folly to investigate. But the great thing, is that instead of swishing wands around, the magic is tedious to learn, as the incantations are written in Latin. The magic itself is even more interesting though. Instead of making colourful beams of light, it'll fry a computer chip when wired to electricity and rot your brain. Which wouldn't happen in Harry Potter now would it?
Another great thing is that, even though there is a continuous theme of the faceless man, the crime is a crime and not an evil scheme by him. This adds a level of reality to the story, which just makes it even better.
The characters are all brilliant, especially Inspector Seawoll. Although he's very rude, the inspector presents a brilliant representation of a police officer who isn't overly thrilled with his job. Along with Inspector Nightingale and Frank Caffery and his merry band of paramilitary troopers, he's one of the greatest characters.

I could go on for ages, so I'll come to the conclusion now. 
Whispers Underground is, if not very rude and inappropriate in some cases, a superb books. The characters are believable, the investigation clever and the conclusion brilliant! One of a  four book series by the writer of 1980s episode of Doctor Who: Battlefield, this is brilliant story.

I give it 8/10.

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