The Peter Grunt Series by Ben Aaronovitch

71wm3otoqtl-_sl1216_Summer binge reading on PC Grunt’s adventures. To be honest I still struggle a bit with liminal fantasy and the author’s unique combination of folklore, Hollywood action flick, classic whodunnit, and Potterish magic. However, reluctantly I have slowly surrendered to Peter’s  charm and delightful sense of humour.

Broken-HomesIn fact, it is humour what attracts me the most in this series: the main character’s constant references to popular culture and everything nerd along with elements of everyday life is what makes these books particularly interesting and peculiar. Aaronovitch makes no concessions whatsoever to readers who have little familiarity with life in the UK. From Tesco to Dettol, from council states in Kentish Town to London historical pus, from the underbelly of Baker Street Station to the nooks and crannies of Herefordshire, Aaronovitch takes his readers on a joy ride around London and the UK which, I imagine, can a bit hard for those with little inside knowledge of life in this country. However, it’s exactly these little every day details that help the reader willingly suspend their disbelief, something that can be quite a challenging task when a writer asks you to accept that this charming, educated and honest young constable of the Metropolitan Police Force has a girlfriend who is a ‘goddess of a suburban London river’ and a senior officer who is a hybrid of Prospero with 007.

Whispers_Under_GroundNo concessions are made either to readers who are lacking in the geek department. The books are punctuated by constant references to LOR, Star Wars, Game of Thrones and video games, to mention just a few. Aaronovitch seems to care very little for the non-initiated. Some of his readers may feel as puzzled by Peter’s references as some of the other characters,  but for those who share his knowledge of popular culture and Fantasy literature, these passing comments are just a delight.

foxglove-summerReading the four remaining books – after Rivers of London – one after the other somehow made it a bit easier for me to get more into this blurred universe created by the author. On the other hand, it made me realise the extent to which we have lost the knowledge of folklore and of those views of the world that permeated and overtly shaped life in medieval communitities. Although those views are now largely dismissed by our ‘scientific’ and rationalistic society, they are still imprinted in our cultural DNA. What Aaronovitch tries to do is to merge both empirical sciences and folklore in his construction of ‘Newtonian Magic’. I don’t think he is always successful but it is a valid effort and the result can be some hours of very entertaining reading.

  • Aaronovitch, B. (2011) Moon over Soho. London: Gollacz.
  • Aaronovitch, B. (2012) Whispers Underground. London: Gollacz.
  • Aaronovitch, B. (2013) Broken Homes. London: Gollacz.
  • Aaronovitch, B. (2015) Foxglove Summer. London: Gollacz.
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