BROKEN HOMES

Worth a try for series fans, although, since Aaronovitch provides no catch-up help, newcomers are best advised to begin at...

Another entry in the Rivers of London urban fantasy series (Whispers Under Ground, 2012, etc.).

In a city with a thriving supernatural community, including river gods, dryads and fairies, narrator and PC Peter Grant works for the London Metropolitan Police. He’s also an apprentice wizard and he, along with PC Lesley May and DCI Thomas Nightingale, the last registered wizard in England, comprises the Folly, the Met’s supernatural department—they’re known as Isaacs after their founder, Sir Isaac Newton. The case begins with a murder in Sussex that may have magical associations, followed by a suicide that may have been magically coerced. And when a valuable stolen book of magic is recovered, the thief turns up burned to a crisp—from the inside. The book, it seems, was owned by expatriate German architect Erik Stromberg, whose masterpiece, an eccentric tower block called the Skygarden Estate, in Elephant and Castle, clearly is magically inspired—but is the development itself some sort of magical artifact? Are these seemingly unassociated elements related to the Faceless Man, a powerful rogue wizard with whom the Folly has crossed swords in the past? To find out what’s really going on in Skygarden, Peter and Lesley must go undercover. All this is even more shapeless than the summary indicates—a phenomenon mystery fans will be familiar with—and it’s only in the last 50 pages or so that the plot coheres and the title’s significance becomes apparent. Still, you’ve got to like a book where the city itself is the main character—literally. And there are plenty of surprises for alert readers.

Worth a try for series fans, although, since Aaronovitch provides no catch-up help, newcomers are best advised to begin at the beginning.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7564-0960-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: DAW/Berkley

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA

A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

A tightly wound caseworker is pushed out of his comfort zone when he’s sent to observe a remote orphanage for magical children.

Linus Baker loves rules, which makes him perfectly suited for his job as a midlevel bureaucrat working for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, where he investigates orphanages for children who can do things like make objects float, who have tails or feathers, and even those who are young witches. Linus clings to the notion that his job is about saving children from cruel or dangerous homes, but really he’s a cog in a government machine that treats magical children as second-class citizens. When Extremely Upper Management sends for Linus, he learns that his next assignment is a mission to an island orphanage for especially dangerous kids. He is to stay on the island for a month and write reports for Extremely Upper Management, which warns him to be especially meticulous in his observations. When he reaches the island, he meets extraordinary kids like Talia the gnome, Theodore the wyvern, and Chauncey, an amorphous blob whose parentage is unknown. The proprietor of the orphanage is a strange but charming man named Arthur, who makes it clear to Linus that he will do anything in his power to give his charges a loving home on the island. As Linus spends more time with Arthur and the kids, he starts to question a world that would shun them for being different, and he even develops romantic feelings for Arthur. Lambda Literary Award–winning author Klune (The Art of Breathing, 2019, etc.) has a knack for creating endearing characters, and readers will grow to love Arthur and the orphans alongside Linus. Linus himself is a lovable protagonist despite his prickliness, and Klune aptly handles his evolving feelings and morals. The prose is a touch wooden in places, but fans of quirky fantasy will eat it up.

A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21728-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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