Book Review: Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch

I wasn’t sure about this one when I started it. It’s the third in a series so I was a little leery that it’d be full of references I didn’t get, but it wasn’t. I also wasn’t so sure I was in the mood to read urban fantasy at the moment, but it sucked me right in.

I kept trying to describe it and the best I came up with was a cross between Terry Prachett’s Unseen Academy books and Ken Bruen’s police squad books.

See, you’ve got this cast of London police officers and detectives and whatnot who think crime should be looked into the usual way. And you’ve got this special department of “special” detectives who deal with things when they get weird. They’re the Scully and Mulder of the London police. Which means it’s exactly as much fun as those old X-Files episodes when they investigated “weird” doings with a mix of comedy and drama.

The primary crime involves the murder of an American art student with enough political connections to warrant an FBI agent getting sent over to keep an eye on things. Most of the story is a fairly straightforward crime novel, so if you’re thinking of reading some urban fantasy but aren’t ready to dive into a lot of wizards and soul reapers, it’s probably not a bad place to start.

(If you are looking for soul reapers, Chris F. Holm’s new book comes out soon, though not nearly soon enough. You could read this one while you wait.)

Pros: Witty, fun story. Just enough excitement and mystery to keep the pages turning.

Cons: Those with magic prejudice have been forewarned.

Bottom line: If you miss the X-Files, like the Unseen Academy books, or don’t mind a little magic with your murder, give it a shot.

Favorite Quote: “It was a good plan, and like all plans since the dawn of time, this would fail to survive contact with real life.”