Synopsis: My name is Peter Grant, and I'm a Detective Constable in that mighty army for justice known as the Metropolitan Police (a.k.a. the Filth). I'm also a trainee wizard, the first such apprentice in fifty years. Officially I belong to ESC9, Economic and Specialist Crime Unit 9, otherwise known as 'The Folly', also known as the unit that nice, well-brought-up coppers don't talk about in polite company.
When I was a kid, I was in charge of changing my dad's records while he lounged around drinking tea - that's how I know my Argo from my Tempo. And that's why, when Dr. Walid called me down to the morgue to listen to a corpse, I recognized the tune as 'Body and Soul' - something violently supernatural had happened to the victim, strong enough to leave its imprint on his corpse as if it were a wax cylinder recording. The former owner of the body, Cyrus Wilkinson, was a part-time jazz saxophonist and full-time accountant who had dropped dead of a heart attack just after finishing a gig.
He wasn't the first, but no one was going to let me exhume corpses to see if they were playing my tune, so it was back to old-fashioned police legwork, starting in Soho, the heart of the scene, with the lovely Simone - Cyrus' ex-lover, professional jazz kitten and as inviting as a Rubens portrait - as my guide. And it didn't take long for me to realize there were monsters stalking Soho, creatures feeding off that special gift that separates the great musician from someone who can raise a decent tune. What they take is beauty. What they leave behind is sickness, failure and broken lives.
And as I hunted them, my investigation got tangled up in another story: a brilliant trumpet player, Richard 'Lord' Grant - my father - who managed to destroy his own career. Twice.
That's the thing about policing: most of the time you're doing it to maintain public order. Occasionally you're doing it for justice. And maybe, once in a career, you're doing it for revenge.
While I absolutely loved the first book, I'm just going to go ahead and say it: this one was better. It has jazz vampires and cat girls and all sorts of freakish things. Plus, Peter finally has a love interest who likes him back - for all sorts of reasons.
The synopsis above doesn't really explain the other main plot point: there is a seriously evil magician offing people by using a girl with teeth in her vagina as an assassin. Perhaps not the most practical of weapons but I think we can all agree when I say that is legitimately frightening. Also, kind of bad-ass.
So, yes, this book, much like Rivers of London, has two seemingly disparate plot threads until the very end where Aaronovitch ties them neatly together. There were some reviewers who had a problem with the fact that Aaronovitch left so many questions unanswered at the end but he was obviously setting up for future sequels and it didn't leave me frustrated - it made me want to read the next book. Which I will be doing very shortly.
Also, I love the fact that this series seems to be getting its own Voldemort. The Faceless Man is powerful, mysterious, and very, very dangerous. He only appears at the very end of the book for a showdown with Peter. It is still unclear what his motive is - why the human experiments? why does he need to hide his identity? - but I am positive that all will be revealed in future books. It's not like J.K. Rowling spelled out Voldemort's life story in the first Harry Potter book. (Yes, I know I keep making Harry Potter references when reviewing these books but in my defense, Ben Aaronovitch drops them in his books all the time.)
I highly recommend this book to urban fantasy fans, and fantasy fans in general. You know what, I recommend this book to people who just like to read in general. If you are not reading Peter Grant then you are missing out.