Seventh in the detective/supernatural urban fantasy series (The Hanging Tree, 2016, etc.) in which many of the characters are embodiments of London’s rivers—so that history literally comes alive.
Yes indeed, folks, London has more than one river—most of the others (like the Walbrook, Fleet, and Tyburn) have long been confined belowground in brick tunnels. They’re usually female and have supernatural powers. Here, narrator Peter Grant, detective and apprentice wizard, along with his partner, DS Guleed, a swordsman-in-training, and their wizardly boss, DCI Nightingale, must track down the Faceless Man II, now unmasked as Martin Chorley, an evil wizard with a plan. Chorley, mightily dissatisfied with the disorder, insolence, purposelessness and sheer unpleasantness of modern times, intends to do—something; evidently this involves vampires, a Saxon sword that could pinch-hit for Excalibur, the theft of bulky post-Roman artifacts such as bricks, a huge magical bell, some sort of bloody sacrifice (Chorley’s minions have been practicing on goats), and the malevolent, insane spirit known as Mr. Punch. But, given such disparate ingredients, what, exactly, is Chorley up to? Peter has an inside track—his girlfriend is a river-goddess, while his treacherous former partner (she’s now Chorley’s sidekick) might not entirely have gone to the dark side. It’s all recounted with deadpan British wit and irony—at one point Peter, confined by the bad guys in an oubliette with nothing to read but The Silmarillion, provides a hilarious running critique—and packed with fascinating historical detail. Newcomers are advised, however, that the frequent references to previous events and episodes may prove confusing even as they enrich the context. The one aspect that lacks real depth is the magic, which is flatly Harry Potter–ish.
Lively and amusing and different.