Book Review: Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch

Posted February 1, 2019 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 4 Comments

Book Review: Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch
Genres: Police Procedural, Mystery, Urban Fantasy
Published by Gollancz Books on November 15, 2018
Pages: 430
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library

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Also by this author: Midnight Riot, Whispers Under Ground, Broken Homes, The Hanging Tree, "The Furthest Station", False Value, "What Abigail Did That Summer"

Seventh in the PC Peter Grant police procedural mystery/urban fantasy series, a.k.a., Rivers of London, and revolving around a young cop who is also an apprentice wizard consorting with goddesses in London.

My Take

Aaronovitch continues to use first person protagonist point-of-view from Peter’s perspective, which focuses more on the case than the genius loci, which is disappointing as I’ve so enjoyed Peter’s interactions with Bev and her sisters…after all, one of the names for the series is Rivers of London, so I’d’ve expected a bit more on that end. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy Aaronovitch’s irreverent approach to how the police work…or their politics or acronyms! It does amaze me how snarky a simple word like action can be, lol.

More disappointment comes from feeling let down by the low-key conclusion, although Foxglove’s new living space, ahem, should be interesting. Chorley’s conclusion and Lesley’s participation left me…wanting more. More information, more clues as to what’s happened.

London’s long history plays a role throughout Lies Sleeping, all the way back to AD 60 or 61. I do enjoy how Aaronovitch weaves history into the magic and the storyline — and there’s an interesting tidbit as to how the Folly became the FSW headquarters. Unfortunately, part of that history saddens me when I read of all these rivers in London, bricked over and forced underground.

The primary theme is one of chaos and order between Chorley and the Folly with a threatened destruction while Peter has his own arc at the height of his worst experience in Lies Sleeping, one of lost hope and innocence, as he struggles to overcome his loneliness and the loss of power while maintaining his honor. It’s a good lesson for us all, to hold true.

It’s cozy and lol-funny with a quirky cast of characters that keeps me coming back.

The Story

Lacking needed information, Operation Jennifer is all about the poking, seeing who the coppers can flush out, for Martin Chorley, wanted for multiple counts of murder, fraud, and crimes against humanity, has been unmasked and is on the run.

But even as the unwieldy might of the Metropolitan Police bears down on its foe, Peter uncovers clues that Chorley, far from being finished, is executing the final stages of a long-term plan in which he plans a sacrifice for his magic. A plan that has its roots in London’s two thousand bloody years of history, and could literally bring the city to its knees.

To save his beloved city Peter’s going to need help from his former best friend and colleague — Lesley May — who brutally betrayed him and everything he thought she believed in. And, far worse, he might even have to come to terms with the malevolent supernatural killer and agent of chaos known as Mr Punch . . .

The Characters

Detective Constable (DC) Peter Grant was promoted just this month and is an apprentice wizard. Beverley Brook is the daughter of the River Thames, the genius loci for the Beverley Brook, and Peter’s girlfriend.

His dad is a jazz musician, Richard “Lord” Grant, and his mum is from the Fula tribe in Sierra Leone. Peter has a lot of Aunty Kadis, some of whom the family speaks to and some not. There’re also a few Aunty Ayeshas and one Aunty Bob. His dad had been part of a trio back in the 1990s with Harry Acworth, Camilla’s neighbor.

Special Assessment Unit (SAU) is…
…an official police nick located in The Folly (its call sign is Zulu Foxtrot) and Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, a.k.a., the Starling, is in charge. Molly is the creepy housekeeper and cook. The Tech Cave is where Peter keeps all the technology — magic is hell on tech. Fifteen-year-old Abigail Kamara is semi-officially Peter’s apprentice (and an unpaid intern) and officially his cousin. Detective Sergeant (DS) Sahra Guleed is frequently partnered with Peter. Toby is the ghost hunting dog

Dr Abdul Haqq Walid is the Folly’s part-time cryptopatholgist and weird specimen collector. Dr Jennifer Vaughan is his assistant who is reclassifying everything. Dr Postmartin is their resident archivist and a noted classicist. Michael Cheung is the Folly’s liaison in Chinatown who teaches fencing and is dating Guleed; Simon Wong will be the new liaison. David Mellenby is Nightingale’s friend and go-to guy for empiricism. Valerie Green is a psychiatrist.

Metropolitan Police
Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Alexander Seawoll is part of the inner decision-making core of Operation Jennifer (incorporates Operations Tinker, Wentworth (Broken Homes, 4), Carthorse (the plan to get Lesley back), Cartwheel (Moon Over Soho, 2), and Marigold (The Hanging Tree, 6)). A more inner core is the Tea Committee consisting of Walid, Postmartin, Nightingale, and Peter to thrash out the magical elements. Sergeant Franklin Wainscrow is Operation Jennifer’s case manager. DC David Carey, Detective Inspector (DI) Mariam Stephanopoulos (her significant other is Pam who teaches Strategic Management at the University of Middlesex), and Lucy, who is a member of Protection Command, are part of the team.

Special Constable Geneviève Nguyễn combines working complicated fraud cases and being a liaison with the Folly. Sergeant Jaget Kumar is the liaison between the British Transport Police and the London Underground’s CCTV control room. Allison Conte is Peter’s Thames Water contact. Inspector Francis Neblett had been Peter’s previous shift commander and an old-fashioned copper. Special Agent Kimberley Reynolds is Peter’s contact with the FBI who works, officially, with the Office of Partner Engagement.

The Genii Locorum are…
…mostly Bev’s family, including her sisters: nine-year-old Brent, Fleet, Lady Ty is goddess of the River Tyburn, and Effra who has a degree in fine arts and considers herself a style guru. Maksim, a former Russian mobster, is Uncle Max who functions as a handyman. Nicky is the nine-year-old goddess of the River Neckinger (Broken Homes, 4).

Oxley is Father Thames’ right-hand river deity and is married to Isis, the former Mrs Freeman, who died in 1802, a.k.a., Anna Maria de Burgh Coppinger, mistress and co-conspirator of the fraudulent Henry Ireland. Supposedly. Oxley’s boat for the summer court is the Queen of the Nile. Father Thames‘ sons include Ash, Ken, Cher, and Wey.

Lulu is the Walbrook goddess, and she runs the Goat and Crocodile pub.

The Summer Court of Father Thames is…
…gathering and can be accessed through the Hambleden Marina. Bev’s boat is the Pride of Putney. The Showmen is a fun fair.

The Whitechapel Bell Foundry was…
…established in 1570 and where Big Ben was recast. Dr Gavin Conyard is in charge in the mornings.

Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA)
Adrian knows about the thefts. Robert Skene is an expert. Camilla Turner is an archeologist restoring and identifying skeletons. ZooMS stands for ZooArcheology by Mass Spectrometry.

William Winston Galt was an antiquarian in the seventeenth century.

St Paul’s Youth Hostel is…
…where Daniel is the manager, rents a room in the annex to the Paternoster Society. Lana Stacey is the cleaning woman.

The Little Crocodiles was…
…a dining club at Oxford that was founded by Professor Geoffrey Wheatcroft, who was also a fully qualified wizard. He thought it would be fun to teach members some magic. Some went on to use their new skills to commit crimes against humanity…like Martin Chorley, a.k.a., the Faceless Man II (the first Faceless Man was Albert Woodville-Gentle; Whispers Under Ground, 3), who has been terrorizing England and the police with his magic. Lesley May is a former police constable and Peter’s former best friend. Foxglove is Peter’s fae jailer who loves to draw and paint.

George Trenchard was murdered and is connected to Chorley. County Gard Holdings is a front for Slick Pictures, amongst many others.

Richard Williams had joined the Little Crocodiles while at Oxford. Fiona is wife number two. “Alice McGovern“, a.k.a., Pale Nanny, is the family nanny. Gabriel Tate and John Chapman are connected to Williams. Their screenplay includes King Sæberht; his advisor Oswyn; Mellitus who is the papal emissary; and, Aedan, Cyrus, Henric, and the MAJOR BABE Hilda.

Varvara Sidorovna Tamonina is a witness. Frederick William Cotton was just released from prison. Miss Bosworth had been Peter’s considerate teacher in primary school. Charlotte Greenwood. Mr Punch is a malevolent supernatural killer and agent of chaos. Patrick Gale is a confirmed practitioner and a senior partner at Bock, Loupe and Stag, one of the London legal firms known for routinely swindling and bullying. Monika Gale is his wife. Obe is a security guard and another of Peter’s cousins.

The demi-monde are…
…composed of fae of all kinds, those who want to be, and those who have been affected by the fae. Zachary Palmer, a self-styled half-fairy, has his own classification system: those born magical, those who acquire it on their own, and those who are changed by magic. He liaises between Crossrail and the Quiet People (Whispers Under Ground, 3). He’s also known as Henry Hodgekins at Heron Tower where Mitchell is a security guard. Marcia has a narrowboat rigged for cargo and grows underwater blow.

Falcon is code for magic-involved crime. FSW stands for Fellow of the Society of the Wise, a.k.a., The Folly, the official home of British wizardry since 1775. Vestigium / vestigia is the “noise” magic leaves behind. The FSW has its own weird classification system for the demi-monde, ranging from fae who are vaguely magical but haven’t gone to the right school. The High Fae are the ones referenced in classical literature. Demon traps can be used like batteries to store magic.

Ghosts are classified as revenants which feed on other ghosts, genii locorum are the spirits of places, drawing their power from the locality, and echoes of genii locorum.

W-a-a-a-y-y-y back in the day
Cata is a Briton who falls into the Roman way of life, believes in law and order, and is betrayed when Queen Boudicca attacks.

The Cover and Title

The cover is consistent with previous stories in the series with its map of London in purple against a cream background, covering the lower half, the text noting areas that appear in this story, as well as lines from the “Oranges and Lemons” nursery rhyme. Naturally, Old Father Thames is noted and icons from within the story appear as well, including the puppet Mr Punch, Excalibur, the Jaguar, and a trio of representatives of the nursery rhyme. An info + series information blurb is at the top in black and purple. Immediately below that is the author’s name in black. On an upward curve below that is the title in purple with a purple-to-red tail leading to an info blurb in white against red.

The title is the history of London that Lies Sleeping until Chorley is ready for his final stroke.

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4 responses to “Book Review: Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch

  1. It is fun, Priscilla. Set in contemporary London with plenty of back history, and incorporating ancient gods and goddesses while making them contemporary as well…it’s a pip!

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