Book Review: “The Furthest Station” by Ben Aaronovitch

Posted April 2, 2018 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 4 Comments

Book Review: “The Furthest Station” by Ben Aaronovitch

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

"The Furthest Station" by Ben Aaronovitch
Genres: Urban Fantasy
on June 30, 2017
Pages: 144
Format: eBook
Source: my own shelves

Buy on Amazon
Also by this author: Midnight Riot, Whispers Under Ground, Broken Homes, The Hanging Tree, Lies Sleeping, False Value, "What Abigail Did That Summer"

A short story, 5.5, in the PC Peter Grant urban fantasy series (a.k.a., Rivers of London) and revolving around a police constable stationed in the supernatural police division in London.

My Take

Whew…talk about a gigantic metaphor with a twisty, windy path to get there. It was also the usual snarkfest with Peter’s remarks or thoughts every few paragraphs making me laugh out loud. It’s definitely Peter, after all, Aaronovitch does use first person protagonist point-of-view from Peter’s perspective

”…discretion is supposed to be, if not our middle name, at least a nickname we occasionally answer to when we remember.”

I can’t figure out if all the ethnic food Peter mentions is because he’s black, because Jaget has a preference, or the most likely, because the English do love their curries as well as the fish and chips. I do know it made me very hungry for some Ethiopian!

It’s all very matter of fact. Typical for a policeman’s life, as long as that life includes ghosts, goddesses, and psychic soup kitchens along with those tedious police tasks of investigating dead ends; endless paperwork to CYA; and, dealing with snippy, er, people and disbelieving coppers from other divisions. It will all keep you laughing with Aaronovitch’s juxtaposition of the everyday with the not-so everyday.

It’s a busy series arc revolving around young Peter. His mother came from Sierra Leone; his father is a brilliant musician, addicted to drugs; and, his cousin is a precocious troublemaker with an incentive to learn. Things became interesting when it was discovered that Peter had some magic in him, and since then his life has taken some, um, interesting turns, what with cavorting with goddesses, liaising with rivers, stumbling in his learning the art of magic, and all that snark, ROFL.

Oh, lord, Peter’s comments about people doing something stupid simply because it’s there, and that YouTube is so handy for those times as it “at least helped with the post-mortem investigation”.

”’He knew I knew,’ I said.

’Yeah, but what did you know?’ said DI Colombo.

’Obviously something,’ I said. ‘If only I knew what it was.’”

On the negative side, I never did understand the bit about the foxes or the part Chess plays in this. I’ll guess that both were intended to “liven” things up and make “The Furthest Station” feel more rounded.

And what can I say? If you enjoy a realistic yet sarcastic sense of humor and cop stories (especially in London), you can’t help but love PC Peter Grant, however confusing it can be.

The Story

When ghosthunting is required that’s when the Folly gets involved, and PC Peter Grant begins his hunt with the help of his wannabe wizard cousin, Toby, and Jaget.

Ghosts have always been riding the Underground, but now they’re assaulting passengers, disintegrating. There has to be a reason for the ghosts to be so disruptive, and it’s that last messenger that provides the clue.

It’s an investigation that gets darker yet when Peter realizes the connection between young Alice’s story and a missing woman.

The Characters

The Folly is…
…officially the Special Assessment Unit (SAU), which has evolved over the decades from its original unofficial status as a “combination Gentleman’s Club, Royal Society, and the unofficial magical arm of the British establishment”, the respectable Society of the Wise, to its association today with the Met.

Police Constable Peter Grant had been seconded to the Folly. His superior is Detective Chief Inspector Nightingale. Well, he’s actually the only other person in the unit. The stubborn Abigail Kamara is Peter’s cousin and an unpaid intern for the summer at the Folly. Someone has to keep her out of trouble. (Her dad, Adam, is a track maintenance engineer.) Molly is the Folly’s “otherly” housekeeper and cook with a weird concept of what goes in cake. Or sandwiches. Toby is the dog who’s supposed to take part in magic detecting whom they inherited from a victim in Midnight Riot, 1. Professor Harold Postmartin is the Folly’s archivist and amateur historian based in Oxford. Frank Caffrey is an inspector with the London Fire Brigade who likes to hang about.

The Transport Police are…
…in charge of the London Underground. Sergeant Jaget Kumar works for them and got a “promotion” — and he isn’t thanking Peter for it! Project Guardian is a joint BTP/Met/ Transport For London/City Police task force set to deal with sexual assaults and offensive behavior on the transport system. Dwain Fletcher, an old schoolmate of Peter’s, is a station manager for London Underground. Hiran is an engineer at the depot.

The Thames Valley Police (TVP) are…
…hoping no landmarks are destroyed. Detective Sergeant Malcom Transcombe is their liaison with the Folly. SIO Detective Inspector Vincent Colombo is Transcombe’s boss. They’ll set up Operation Polygon to find a missing woman.

Geographical features are…
…some of Peter’s best friends: Beverly Brook the daughter of the River Thames has been dating Peter and is the genius loci for the Beverly Brook. Lady Ty is Beverly’s sister, goddess of the River Tyburn.

Victims include…
Amirah Khalil. Jessica Talacre is a publicist for a technical publisher. Jonathan Pickering is a coder for a software development company.

The ghosts include…
Anne Naylor, a thirteen-year-old murdered in 1758; Mr. Ponderstep had fought at the Somme as a lieutenant; Black Tom had been a road agent; and, there was Postboy from the 18th century.

The Master lives in a fairy palace made of glass. His friends include Sir William, Tommy, Frenchie, Clifford, Elizabeth, and Alice Bowman, a young girl from Victorian days, whose Nanny says her parents are waiting for her in heaven.

Buckinghamshire is…
…the county in which Chesham and Amersham, two villages within commuting distance of London, lie. Young Chess is hiking with his “grandparents”, Allen and Lillian Heywood. Brené McClaren works for Islington Council as a social worker. Geoffrey Toobin is a local solicitor. Janusz Zdunowski is a Polish barista who works at Costa. High and Over is a modernist house built in Amersham with Bernard Ashmole, a curator of the British Museum, as the original owner.

County Practitioners (CPs) were…
…official magicians assigned to a county who handled supernatural incidents. In 1921, Wallace Blair Esq was the Middlesex County Practitioner. George Buckland (b 1742, d 1815) was a ghost wrangler. Walter Buckland, his grandson, had investigated abducting fairies in the late 19th century.

A Falcon assessment formally determines if a case is better off with SAU and not buggering up the regular police’s own budget. Vestigia is the imprint magic makes on physical objects. The Fair Folk are the fae. A genius loci is the presiding god or spirit of a place. One uses several factors to determine the type of ghost: Intensity is measured on a one-to-ten annies scale, and Volition comprises three categories: loopers are the most common, expressing a repetitive action; the speech and action of simulacra rapidly becomes repetitive and stereotypical; and, entities react as if they’re still alive.

Ballantine Junior and Spotty had been at school with Nightingale. Miss Margo is a teacher of Religious Education at Peter’s and now Abigail’s school.

The Cover and Title

The cover has a white background which causes the royal blue map of London to stand out. The author’s name is at the top with a short info blurb under his name. The blue serif title below the author’s name is all a’tilt with ends of the letters waving off into space and one wavering line, falling down, opening up into a pool of blood that encircles the geographical heart of this short story.

The title speak true, for it is “The Furthest Station” that catches the Folly’s eye.

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4 responses to “Book Review: “The Furthest Station” by Ben Aaronovitch

  1. Definitely try Ethiopian. It’s great tasting, and it’ll be fun for the kids as you use the bread “plate” to scoop up the food. No silverware. And, of course, there are more ethnic foods mentioned that are also yummy. I’m just hankerin’ for some Ethiopian…sigh…

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