False Value (Rivers Of London book 8) by Ben Aaronovitch (book review).

‘False Value’ is the latest Peter Grant story. ‘The Rivers Of London’ series follows the young police officer as he moves from paper shuffling to the magician’s apprentice. From his demonstrably weak beginnings, our Peter has moved on and now has an apprentice of sorts of his own. His pregnant girlfriend is a river goddess and life looks good.

It’s a shock to find he’s left the magical force behind and the beginning of this novel sees him pitching up at the Serious Cybernetics Company as an investigator. It’s the sort of place where you need to know where your towel is.

Just when you think the flame of magic has died in Peter, it’s revealed that nothing is as it appears. Now you see it, now you don’t. A secret project and various mysterious people are there to get right up Peter’s nose. It’s all a bit much when a man is contemplating imminent fatherhood.

Packed with treasures and little bits of history and illusion this latest adventure from Ben Aaronovitch sends Peter deep into the ‘silicon roundabout’ is a little bit of a turn away from previous outings. It’s good to ring the changes while continuing to deliver a story worth reading.

What I love about these stories is the way they are told. You could be listening directly to the author, no filters and straightforward dialogue by real people. Peter is great and Nightingale as the much older generation is the comforting hand on the shoulder. The Douglas Adam scenario I leave to you. I’m not sure it will appeal to all but at least the mice aren’t real. The set-up is so damn complicated but it’s ornate and nods backward and forwards to all computing pipedreams.

The series has proved to be a bit hit and it’s probably time for a retrospective read. Should have done that when I had three months where I couldn’t go out. Meanwhile, there are graphic novels and a short story collection to tempt us to continue moving forward and the possibility of a TV outing if any such thing is possible in these weird times.

Sue Davies

August 2020

(pub: Gollancz, 2020. 404 page small hardback. Price: £18.99 (UK only). ISBN: 978-1-473-20785-1)

check out websites: www.orionbooks.co.uk and www.gollancz.co.uk

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