Whispers Underground by Ben Aaronvitch (book review).

‘Whispers Underground’ sees the return of a loveable boy wizard but this one is slightly more grown up than Harry. Peter Grant is learning to reconcile the ancient art of magic with the modern and only occasionally fritz-ing his phone.

Leslie and Peter continue to develop their tentative friendship. Her facial injuries are still a factor but she is now on the team, these regular coppers balancing on the thin blue line between Scotland Yard and the home of the Darkish Arts, The Folly. Their boss, Nightingale, continues to be enigmatic and a little bit suave. The housekeeper, Molly, continues to be a little bit scary and I’m including her cooking experiments in this. Also, the dog, Toby, continues to be cute.

This time the plot centres on a problem inside the tunnels of the London Underground. It sees the return of the River sisters and an on-going underlying thread of a plot arc.

There’s nothing not to like in this as the burgeoning relationship between Peter and his friend Leslie as they form the dynamic of the book and we want them to succeed together. There are enough hints about the on-going arc to keep our interest for the next book and it’s got some good background to London’s past that fills out the narrative. One particular reference that related to how the Tube originally accommodated steam trains had me reaching for the Internet to find if it was true. It was and I was so thrilled about that it is now on my list of places to visit.

That is one of the reasons these books are so readable, they make history part of the narrative without it being dry as dust and with such great characters as Peter and Leslie (was Ben a fan of ‘Blue Peter’ in the 70s?). I look forward to the next instalment. Also, I think Nightingale is the clincher figure for a TV adaptation. Mysterious figure that drives a cool car and is a real magician, it won’t be Paul Daniels who gets the gig.

Sue Davies

(pub: Gollancz. 418 page small hardback. Price: £12.99 (UK only). ISBN: 978-0-575-09764-3
pub: Del Rey/Ballantine Books. 303 page paperback. Price: $ 7.99 (US), $ 9.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-345-55461-4)
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