This is not a Harry Potter for adults, nor is it Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden in London, it is different somehow, even if the ingredients are the same as in many other urban fantasies. There is not really anything new in Ben Aaronovitch “Rivers of London”, but the story has a different touch and feel. He tells it with a twinkle in his eye and there is a touch of British humor. On top of that, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith does an incredible job in reading it, from a Nigerian lilt to the shrieking of a Victorian ghost, he has the right voice to breathe life into the characters.
The main gist of the story is quickly told. Peter Grant is just a probationary constable of the London Metropolitan Police Service and not very good at it, at best you could say, he gets by. His colleague Leslie May seems to be much better at it and he admires her, not just for that. She is adorable, smart and sexy, but somehow he does not manage to get beyond the good friends level with her. His life takes a completely new turn, when one night, while keeping watch on a crime scene, a ghost talks to him, to him, who always thought of himself as a realistic, down-to-earth guy. To make things worse, a little bit later, he gets the attention of a Mr. Nightingale, a real wizard and inspector of the police force.
It does not come as a surprise that Peter becomes an apprentice of Mr. Nightingale to get trained in the art of magic. He moves in with Mr. Nightingale, into his bizarre home, where the only other resident is Molly, a female vampire. There is barely enough time to get introduced to the basics of magic, because a bad spirit of the past is loose in the streets of London and killing people at random. But that is not all, he has to mediate a conflict between the god and goddess of the Thames and on top of that, Beverly, the incredibly sexy daughter of the goddess of the Thames, seems to fancy him very much.
It is a fast moving, action packed story, really entertaining and humorous at times, but basically harmless. There is some blood and gore and a hint of sex now and then, but nothing offensive. It is fun to listen to and I wonder, whether the sequel keeps up with the expectations created by this book.