Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch – first thoughts

Title:  Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch

Series:  Book Four, Rivers of London

Copyright:  2013 in the UK; will not be published in the US until February 2014

Cover art from Aaronovitch's web site, www.the-folly.com

Cover art from Aaronovitch’s web site, http://www.the-folly.com

A mutilated body in Crawley.  Another killer on the loose.  The prime suspect is one Robert Weil; an associate of the twisted magician known as the Faceless Man?  Or just a common or garden serial killer?

Before PC Peter Grant can get his head round the case a town planner going under a tube train and a stolen grimoire are adding to his case-load.

So far so London.

But then Peter gets word of something very odd happening in Elephant and Castle, on a housing estate designed by a nutter, built by charlatans and inhabited by the truly desperate.

Is there a connection?

And if there is, why oh why did it have to be South of the River?

First:  yes, I ordered a copy from the UK and paid the ridiculous shipping fees and the currency exchange rate against the pound for it.

Second:  no, I am not at all sorry and think the book was worth the price.

Third:  I tore through the book in very short order and didn’t really have time to absorb the nuances of the storytelling.  Certainly now that I’ve gone back to the beginning of the series, some things that were sort of casual asides or seemed like throwaway, inconsequential points really aren’t.  Maybe I’ll post a full review then.  But for now, my general thoughts:

  • As I read, the separate story lines felt a little scattered and disjointed, but they all fell together like a puzzle or a rubik’s cube in the end.
  • The copyediting or typesetting, I’m not sure which, missed a fair number of very noticeable blips — spaces between letters and punctuation, dropped articles, etc.
  • Loved the humor, the slang, the reappearance of minor characters like Peter’s parents, Abigail, etc.  Others have said it, but this series has a very distinctive sense of place.

One of my favorite passages — and there were many but this one seemed least spoilerish — is this:

The Met has a tin ear for operations mnemonics, and the one for being the first officer on the scene at a major incident is SADCHALETS.  Survey; oh god there’s a bomb.  Assess; oh god there’s more than one bomb and everyone in the [redacted] will die.  Disseminate; oh god there’s a bomb, we’re going to die, send help.  For the life of me I couldn’t remember the CHALETS bit — Casualties, Hazards, something, something and I remembered that the last S stood for Start a Log because it was such an obvious cheat.

My immediate reaction:  Gobsmacked.  I can’t remember the last time I came to the end of a book, the big confrontation, and was left so utterly blindsided and stunned.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch – first thoughts

  1. That passage makes me want to read this book!

    • It’s the fourth book of the Rivers series – I would recommend listening to the audio versions in order if possible. The audio narrator does an amazing job with voices and accents. And the MC’s voice/style is very funny.

      The series has a wonderful sense of place. I’m pushing it on everyone I know, every chance I get.

      • Thanks for the tip; will look for the audio. No version of the first book is at my library but maybe Audible can help me out.

        Also, thanks for the St. Cyr title. It’s checked out right now but I’ll look for it later. Drama, drama, drama. 🙂

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