I don’t read that much these days, because it’s difficult to find stuff that really grabs my attention. There are, however, a few exceptions, and the DC Peter Grant books (The Rivers of London series to some) are in that group. I’ve been looking forward to the paperback release of the 5th book (Foxglove Summer) since it was announced (on account of me being too cheap to buy the hardback), and have been reading it in my lunch break at work since it arrived.
Ben’s style is very easy going, and that makes reading the books very easy as well. The tone is informal and inviting and I often think, regardless of the content, I could spend hours just reading his prose and enjoy it in the same way you might enjoy a warm bath.
As is common in the kind of urban fantasy I read, Foxglove Summer has a crime to solve, and in the background there’s a long running arc, some impending doom or event that is being foreshadowed. Painted over those two features are the lives of the characters that inhabit the story. Unusually, Ben pretty much pushes all of the key characters into the sidelines in this outing, with DC Peter Grant being sent off out of London. Other than Beverly Brook, the other regulars (Nightingale, Molly, Leslie, et. al) are all pretty much handled at arms length. Peter is on his own, and while that presents some challenges, it also left me feeling a little bit bereft.
Two girls have gone missing, and what starts out being a routine check on practitioners for Peter, turns into a full-on Falcon event (the Police terminology in the book for ‘weird shit’).
The pace was okay, although as with some of the previous books, I felt again that the ending was quite damp. This may be because I had to stop only a chapter from the end and then pick it up again, but it all feels quite gentle. Maybe this is intentional, police work doesn’t finish with the final chase, but rather with all the paperwork afterwards, but it still leaves me feeling deflated. In combination with the lack of supporting characters, this means I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the fourth in the series which I feel was much stronger.
However, it’s not all bad. The police procedural elements are as fascinating as ever, the new characters were great, the setting was interesting and the magical elements were worth the effort. Foxglove Summer is another quite low key story in the magic department after Broken Homes’ must stronger magical element, but as usual it’s blended with the other elements perfectly.
The humour is great, most of it being delivered through DC Grant’s PoV, which is as engaging and witty as ever. I really could spend hours just reading about DC Grant going about regular police work.
The plot has twists, and the long running story arc is interesting (but you need to have read the others to get it).
Foxglove Summer is an interesting, entertaining read, albeit diminished by the reduced cast. What the book lacks in tension, it makes up for with humour, wit and intelligence.