Moon over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch

Moon over SohoA review by Nalini Haynes

Moon over Soho is the sequel to Rivers of London (reviewed here). Peter Grant is a somewhat erratic cop who needs constant supervision to protect himself and others, as established in Rivers of London. However, in Moon over Soho, Peter is left largely unsupervised while Lesley May is dealing with the aftermath of Rivers and Nightingale is recovering from being injured early in this book. Peter’s abilities range from idiot to savante, causing havoc in spite of his good intentions.

Two apparently unrelated incidents occur early on: the sudden death of a jazz musician and a date rapist’s penis is bitten off. Peter investigates both, pulled in to the penis investigation by the conventional police.

The focus in this book is in and around Soho; Aaronovitch develops Soho’s character as an active participant in the story. The history, culture and personality of Soho in the current day is woven into a complex and colourful tapestry that serves as a back drop to the narrative. When Peter is taken out of London for an investigation it comes as a surprise, expanding the possibilities of the investigation.

Jazz music is also a significant feature of Moon over Soho, and almost a character in its own right. Jazz afficionados are sure to appreciate the depth of knowledge and understanding of jazz culture revealed here. I found it informative as I’m more of a rock person myself, yet it was interesting. If I had a jazz friend living locally, I’d be asking to listen to albums and asking for more.

The plot was well paced. Peter’s role of Mr Plodd, the dim witted copper, was entertaining. I found key aspects of this plot to be predictable, and yet this did not detract from the story for me. Moon over Soho is also about the journey, which is entertaining with Aaronovitch’s characters, pithy observations and pop culture references, especially the SF and Fantasy references. Suspense was generated because, in Rivers, Aaronovitch proved himself to be ruthless in terms of dishing out consequences to central characters, thus any fan will read Moon with trepidation.

Highly recommended.

Previously published in Dark Matter issue 4, July 2011.