Midnight Riot (Rivers of London Series #1)

Midnight Riot (Rivers of London Series #1)

by Ben Aaronovitch

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Midnight Riot is what would happen if Harry Potter grew up and joined the Fuzz. It is a hilarious, keenly imagined caper.”—Diana Gabaldon 

Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.

“Filled with detail and imagination . . . Aaronovitch is a name to watch.”—Peter F. Hamilton 

“Fresh, original, and a wonderful read . . . I loved it.”—Charlaine Harris

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345524256
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/01/2011
Series: Rivers of London Series , #1
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 50,215
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.80(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Ben Aaronovitch was born in London in 1964 and had the kind of dull routine childhood that drives a man to drink or to science fiction. He is a screenwriter, with early notable success on BBC television’s legendary Doctor Who, for which he wrote some episodes now widely regarded as classics, and which even he is quite fond of. He has also penned several groundbreaking TV tie-in novels. After a decade of such work, he decided it was time to show the world what he could really do and embarked on his first serious original novel. The result is Midnight Riot, the debut adventure of Peter Grant.

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Chapter 1

Excerpted from "Midnight Riot"
by .
Copyright © 2011 Ben Aaronovitch.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.


Author Essay

I've always supplemented my nutritious and tasty science fiction and fantasy reading with a healthy dose of crime, and ever since I can remember I've always rooted for the detectives. For me Clarice Starling was the star of Silence of the Lambs, not Hannibal Lector, and while I find the antics of Elmore Leonard's myriad lowlifes amusing I always hanker for the moment when the heavy hand of the law lands on their shoulder and the cuffs go on. In short, my subgenre of choice is what's known as the police procedural, or as the French call it, le policier.

The undisputed king of American procedurals is Evan Hunter, writing under the name of Ed McBain. If you wanted to know the single biggest influence on the Peter Grant books (Midnight Riot and Moon Over Soho, with a third coming this fall), it would be his 87th Precinct novels, which started with Cop Hater in 1956 and continued until Hunter's death in 2005. I challenge anyone to find a fantasy world as lovingly and meticulously created as the unnamed imaginary city in which the 87th Precinct novels take place, and certainly no braver heroes in song and story than the working stiffs who solve the mysteries.

One thing I always remember about the novels is that they contain official-looking forms and interrogation transcripts illustrating police procedure. Under this influence I went forth and delved into the arcane and Byzantine world of London's Metropolitan Police Service, with its AWARE terminals and HOLMES 2 computer systems, the HAT car, MISPERs, FATACs, and every copper's friend, the Evidence and Action Book, which contains all the forms you absolutely have to have filled in before you can book your suspect into the custody suite – even if they're a werewolf.

The 87th Precinct series is also why Peter Grant isn't "the chosen one" or the uniquely gifted child of two warring races, it's why he doesn't have a Maori tattoo and why he carries a standard Metropolitan Police extendable baton, not a katana. It's why he's a hardworking flat-foot who sometimes is deadly afraid when he walks down those mean streets, and yet still does his duty because it's his job and he swore an oath.

I like to think that Detective 2nd Grade Steve Carella and the rest of the boys in the bullpen back at the old 87th would have approved.

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Midnight Riot 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 161 reviews.
Qwillery More than 1 year ago
While Ben Aaronovitch has written some Doctor Who tie-in novels, this is his first original novel and his urban fantasy debut. Midnight Riot / Rivers of London is quite simply fabulous. It's a mystery, police procedural, and urban fantasy wrapped in a rich mythology of London's rivers. I find it interesting that this novel has two different covers and two different titles. This is not the first time this has happened in the history of novels, of course. I find it interesting because the covers and titles reflect two different aspects of the same story. "Midnight Riot" is the US title; "Rivers of London" is the UK title. "Rivers of London" seems to emphasize the fantasy construct underlying the story: a mythology of London's rivers. Peter Grant, the main character, has to deal with issues created by the rivers. He deals directly with the gods and goddesses of the rivers and streams - the rivers personified. "Midnight Riot" seems to emphasize the police procedural aspect of the novel. A terrible chain of events has been set off. The mystery underlying the crimes comes from London's past. These two themes of the novel intertwine sometimes in surprising, but satisfying, ways. Themes aside, this is essentially a story about Peter Grant. I find Detective Constable Grant to be a likable, flawed character. He makes mistakes. He's sometimes foolish, but he's got a curious mind and a willingness to learn. He's also got a scientific mind which would seem at odds with his new assignment working with DCI Nightingale investigating crimes that involve magic. However, this serves him well as he starts to navigate the world of magic. It's incredibly fun to read about his attempts at magic and watch him begin his journey to wizardom. He's starting to grow into both his jobs - Detective Constable and wizard. The characters both paranormal and normal are well written. The river gods and goddesses are particularly well drawn. I'm intrigued by DCI Nightingale and hope to learn more about him in future books. The pacing is well done. The police procedures are detailed and interesting. There is quite a bit of detail about London and environs, which I enjoyed. I love the understated humor that suffuses Midnight Riot / Rivers of London. I'm looking forward to Moon Over Soho (March 1, 2011). I give Midnight Riot / Rivers of London 4 1/2 Qwills.
VetGirl More than 1 year ago
My husband bought me the third book in this series in London, not knowing there were other books that came before it. I started reading it, then by about page 12 realized it must be part of a series, since there were several important plot points that were skimmed over - more like a gentle reminder to readers of previous books than an initial introduction. Anyway, the front of the book listed "Rivers of London" as the name of the first book so I searched everywhere for it, but could only find it used for way more money than a 2-year-old book should cost. I have access to 3 different library systems but none had it. Eventually, I went to the author's web site, where I finally found out that it was released under a different name ("Midnight Riot") and very different cover image in the US. Don't know why they do that. Besides, "Rivers of London" is really a much better title for the book. I was sucked into this series from page one, once I really started from the beginning. I read all three books back-to-back and am very happy that the next book is coming out soon (and that the name is the same on both sides of the Atlantic!). I wouldn't say I'm a fan of occult fiction per-se, but the magic here is tempered by some skepticism on the part of several major characters, including the protagonist, and quite a bit of fairly accurate scientific information. I think that's what makes the magic more believable here. The major plot lines in each book are interesting and slightly different, which keeps it fresh, and there is plenty of humor alongside the 'magical police detective' story to keep it light. Bottom line: Once I actually started from the beginning, I loved it and couldn't put it down. Would recommend it to people who enjoy Janet Evanovich, Sara Paretsky, and Sue Grafton. Similar smart but slightly inept protagonist - although here he is male unlike the female detectives in the other authors' work - working to solve crimes with a bit of magic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The glut of poorly written urban fantasies and paranormal erotica can make it hard to find a decent novel in the SF and Fantasy section of the bookstore. Ben Aaronovitch's Peter Grant novels are pearls in the pig sty. The main character is witty, flawed and likable and the fantasy elements are, if not exactly original, at least effectively deployed to keep the reader guessing. Overall Midnight Riot, and its sequel Moon Over Soho, are great fun and well worth the time.
KnitKicky More than 1 year ago
Reminiscent of the early Harry Dresden books, with a delighful sense of humor.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great for Anglophiles; better than Mike Carey. A quick read, and lots of fun.
JaneGael More than 1 year ago
One of the best reads I've found in a long time. Probably the best thing I can say about it is that once I finished it I went straight out and bought the sequel "Moon Over Soho" and I'm eagerly awaiting the next book this spring. Ben Aaronovitch has leaped to the short list of My Favorite Writers and I don't expect he will ever be off of it. :)
Geek_Girl More than 1 year ago
Contemporary urban fantasy - set in London. The lead is a policeman by the name of Peter Grant who is suddenly introduced to the paranormal world when he meets a ghost. I liked this book - fresh ideas, interesting characters, good writing. Seems as though some of the characters/world building need a little more filling out, but I will certainly pick up the next in the series to see how it moves forward.
Aardtacha More than 1 year ago
It's a great book, and it's a pity that the US publisher decided to change the title from Rivers of London to this pathetic "Midnight Riot" garbage. Do they really think Americans are so insular we wouldn't read a book that mentions London? Nicely written, very entertaining, with a slightly snarky protagonist who is well aware of his limitations (a rather less annoying Spenser, for Parker fans). Read the first in Nottingham and promptly grabbed the four of them. Likeable characters and interesting plots
harstan More than 1 year ago
Because rookie British police officer Peter Grant can see ghosts, his superior at the Metropolitan Police Department, Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, switches him from the tedious clerical Case Progression Unit to assist on paranormal cases. Thus he sends the probationer new kid on the magical block to school for wizard training. Nightingale investigates a horrific serial assault case in which the violent attackers usually have their face fall off, but he has made no progress. The violence expands with fears that an epidemic will overwhelm the city and ultimately the nation. He knows he needs Grant who accelerates his formal magic education so he can help solve an ugly case that has it roots in the nation's rivers. This is a terrific urban fantasy police procedural in which the two cops make the unbelievable believable; especially the inexperienced Grant. The fast-paced yet meandering story line is loaded with action from the onset as the mentor and mentee work a challenging investigation in which an ancient has arisen to stir the troubled waters. Sub-genre fans will enjoy Ben Aaronovitch's view of London in this witty well written riot. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love mysterirs based in England. This one is in London...never been there but loved traveling through it in this story. Keeps you interested all the way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a fan of police procedurals and this definitely had nothing in common with them. It seemed like I read and read and the subjects were so disjointed we never got to the real plot of the book. I have to say it's one of the strangest books I've read.
hscherry on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A mixture of magic, detective story and history all rolled into one.. A bit hard to follow in places, but generally I really enjoyed it :)
eclecticdodo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A detective story set in a parallel London where magic is real but invisible to most. Peter Grant is a police constable and apprentice wizard; he and his boss, with the help of various magical creatures, protect the city from chaos. The level of detail really adds to the reading; from police procedures to accurate geography, the author has clearly done his homework. Described as "Harry Potter joins the Fuzz", it's definitely a book for adults not children; it's violent and dark, and there is swearing throughout. I found the ending a little weak, but I'll still definitely go on to read the next one.
wyvernfriend on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I couldn't help but feel sorry for Peter Grant, a bit unlucky in parts, not a great fit as a constable in the Metropolitan Police Force, his life changes when he sees a ghost while guarding a body. He's seconded to a force who police the things that go bump in the night (and at other times as well) and now he's learning magic and investigating a malicious spirit that's controling people.I read snippets out for my husband while I was reading this, I found it witty and entertaining and Peter really lept off the page. Some of the other characters were a little less real to me. This felt to me like Gideon (John Creasey); Felix Castor (Mike Carey) and Lord Darcy (Randall Garrett) met, resulting in this book. This is one of those books I really did enjoy reading and want to visit these characters again.
AHS-Wolfy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Just coming to the end of his time as a Probationary Constable and hoping not to be posted to the Case Progression Unit (paperwork), Peter Grant talks to his first ghost who describes the murder at the scene he's guarding. Not something you can tell your superiors so the next night he goes back hoping for another meeting but this time Peter runs into Inspector Nightingale and finds himself explaining about the ghost. When the Inspector seems to take his story at face value this is when Peter's career prospects take a turn for the unexpected and he finds himself apprenticed to the last wizard in England.Can Peter learn enough magic to help solve what appears to be some kind of killer by possession case? Will his scientific mind be a help or hindrance? What kind of influence can he exert in a turf war between Father and Mother Thames and will he keep his hands off one of Mama's daughters or does he really want to? All of this is mixed into a very good police procedural and guide to London that is extremely readable. Peter Grant makes a good narrator for the investigation and the surrounding cast of characters fill out the scenery imaginatively. I certainly want to read the sequel sooner rather than later.
dgbdgb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Brilliant read - great fun
missheather3 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Truly enjoyed this book. I thought that at times the writing became slightly hard to follow, but all in all, I couldn't wait to read the next book.
phoebesmum on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
For once an urban fantasy that actually is an urban fantasy, with not a poxy Doc Martened elf in sight, thank god: part very well researched police procedural, part Sorcerer¿s Apprentice ¿ and this is a real apprenticeship, where results come from sheer slog and perseverance, not from waving a magic wand ¿ part gruesome murder hunt, part otherworldly politicking, and part ¿ and this is my favourite part by far ¿ a carefully detailed map of Central London, written by one who knows and loves the place as it should be loved, all of it narrated by likeable Everyman Peter Grant, an adequate enough probationary constable who¿s just a bit too curious for his own good (while his colleagues are breaking up a riot in Trafalgar Square, he stops to check what¿s written on the lions¿ bums). Peter crosses the line between one world and another and, in the process, is saved from a future of data entry in the Case Progression Unit, one cold morning in Covent Garden, when he¿s left guarding a crime scene and a witness steps forward from St Paul¿s Church ¿ a witness who has been dead for considerably longer than the body under investigation.'Rivers of London' isn¿t perfect ¿ there are a lot of open questions left hanging, and some of the plot resolutions don¿t entirely make sense ¿ but it is bloody good, and one of the best things I¿ve read in many years. Good enough that I went straight out and bought the sequel. In hardback.Ignore Diana Gabaldon's stupid cover blurb, by the way (¿What would happen if Harry Potter grew up and joined the Fuzz¿). I'll do her the credit of believing she was misquoted.Don¿t expect to learn too much about the actual lost rivers of London, though. That¿s a fascinating topic in itself, but one for another book entirely.
DebScriven on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A light hearted fantasy book which is easy to read and quickly grabs your attention. As the title suggests the book is based on the rivers in and around London which is fascinating if you live in the area as its easy to forget the number of rivers in London.Peter the main character is very likeable and belivable as a character. Having discovered magic he constantly questions how it works and exists which is a different take in comparison to a number of magic related books.I'd recommend this to Stephanie Plum (Janet Evanovitch) fans. Whilsts its on a difference subject the book has similar humour and brings a smile to your face.
Mardel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
cover- ummmm, I like the UK cover - if you see it up close, it's a map of London, with waterways and streets, etc. You can't really judge this book by the cover, though. By the cover, it could be any type of book; featuring London and water, maybe? I like it because it's different. Now the U.S. cover.....I don't like it. At all. It's too...I don't really know why I don't like it, I just don't. In fact, I almost bought this book quite a few times, and ended up putting it down, probably because of the cover. But then I received this gift of the UK version and.... OMG, I enjoyed this book SOOOOO much. I enjoyed the characters, the character's voice (first person), the plot, the self-deprecating humor, the snarks about London and British people in general (by the author from Britain, no less - good humor) and I enjoyed the twists and turns this novel took. Rivers of London is an all 'round enjoyable read. I started it and finished it within two days (with the usual grandchildren and sleep breaks) Hell, even Aaronovitch's bio is funny and interesting even though according to him he "had the kind of dull childhood that drives a person to drink, radical politics or science fiction". How can you not enjoy writing from a person who writes this about himself? Peter Grant is a constable in London's police force, and on one of his last nights as a probationary constable, he's guarding a murder site when a corporeally challenged person approaches him with information about the murder. Information that is validated later with video from the street cameras. He also meets an interesting man in passing that turns out to be a detective, one who asks for him specifically to work with. This begins a new and challenging chapter in Peter's life. One of the other things I like about Peter's character - besides his humor and the narrative voice, is that he is a mixed race character. In the novel, he not only notes all the different races he's taken for, but there are lot's of interesting tidbits about growing up with an immigrant African mother - and all that entails. Some of that reminded me of growing up with my own immigrant mom and all that entailed. It's special - nothing quite like it. Unlike other books where the character is of mixed race, mentioned at the beginning of the book and practically no where else, with Peter Grant's character you get lots of little tidbits througout the book, whether it's small mentions of him mom, her temper, or when to walk away from an African woman who is angry or whether it's the differing ways that he himself is treated - the whole reading experience was interesting and gave me a few chuckles. Some of it I related to, and some of it probably only another part African, part other race person can relate to. The story itself kept me engaged, with the twists and turns. Not only was Peter trying to help solve some at first unrelated murders, but he is also learning to use magic with his new detective supervisor. And there's this live-in housekeeper who never, ever talks...And then there's this dog...and then there's his friend... The dialogue - the dialogue was great. Each character sounded like a real person. I love when all the characters do NOT sound like each other (like every single actor on Gray's Anatomy all talk in the same voice - in the same voice. Repeating the same last few words. The last few words. For emphasis. To emphasize that they're trying to HAMMER INTO YOUR HEAD...in the same tone, the same rhythym {I love the way rhythym is spelled, by the way}, the SAME rhythym. Have you ever really LISTENED to the characters speak in Gray's Anatomy? Have you HEARD them speak?) I might have went off a little there, just a little. A little bit. LOL. Back to the review. The book was good. You should read it, whether you get the UK cover with the map on it, or the boring U.S. cover - it's the inside of the book that counts. Now I'm going to order the sequel with the UK cover, 'cause it's way better than the U.S
JackieP on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Rivers of London (or Midnight Riot as it's known in the US) is the first of a projected trilogy in the urban fantasy genre. At first glance, I thought this may be a case of `Harry Dresden does London¿, but I was wrong. Although there are similarities this book has a completely different feel. It¿s not quite as dark as the Dresden books, and it¿s obvious right from the beginning that this book was not written from the perspective of an experienced supernatural detective. One thing you can be sure of, it¿s definitely a British book, which for me (as a Brit) makes a refreshing change in this genre.The main character, Peter Grant, is a rookie British Bobby / wizard¿s apprentice, working in a sort of secret department of the metropolitan police (which consists of one man, Nightingale). Sounds an unlikely mix and I must admit I was dubious before I began reading, but the humour, which consists of lots of sarcasm and self-deprecation (I did say it was a British book!) really makes it work.Every character was well presented and interesting (even the incidental characters) which is quite an achievement in this genre. Characterisation is an important part of any writing and one that many authors in urban fantasy overlook beyond the central characters I feel. So it was nice to have some added depths in the portrayal of a wide ranging cast of personalities.Overall I thought it was very well written, lots of fun and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I¿m definitely left wanting more, and am looking forward to when the next book is published (around April I think).
spivs on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I would give this five stars for ambition, energy, humour and insane creativity. I enjoyed it hugely. There are few books of any genre which captures the essence and the detail of London so well. In fact London itself is almost a character in the story. It has an incredibly strong sense of place, which reflects the reality of the City. I end up with a final outcome of three and half because the interior world of the novel didn't quite hang together, and the narrator seemed to accept too easily and without questioning some of the deeply strange things which happen to him. I know, I know it's a fantasy world and so that may seem harsh but I was left just a little bit dissatissfied. I won't try and sumarise the plot because I couldn't do it justice. Put simply, this is a grown up fantasy comedy which will appeal to anyone who likes Jasper Fforde and Martin Millar. This holds up well against anything that either of those two have published. notwithstanding what I said above. I've already bought the second in the series, [Moon Over Soho], which I'm looking forward to getting stuck into very soon.
Jaie22 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ridiculously funny and madcap. I'm so obsessed with London I was bound to love this one, but the premise is also right up my alley - You're starting your career with the police, got a better job than you thought you would, and BTW, magic is real and so is that ghost you were talking to and - catch - get to work fast! No time to teach you, just go. Urban fantasy, yes, but not at all the kind of urban fantasy you've seen before. (Is most of the Urban Fantasy genre sort of fantasy crossed with romance? Most of what I've read is, while this is most certainly fantasy crossed with crime/police drama.)This may seriously be the best book I read this summer - although the second in the series, Moon Over Soho, was equally fun.
Elphaba71 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A great urban fantasy novel. Along the way the story has many twists and turns, and really brings London to life. Found the book hard to put down at times with the humour, thrills and chills of this cleverly written novel.
saltypepper on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am a big fan of Librarything.com, and particularly the Early Reviewer program. I have found quite a few good, new or at least new-to-me, authors and books that way. Most recently I was introduced to Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch, which I did not win but was intriguing enough to pick up on my own. It's called Rivers of London in the UK. OMG, where to start! Okay, first it's a mash-up of genres, which is a thing I happen to love. Purists, beware. If you don't want your police procedurals mixed with urban fantasy, this may not be for you. Or it might, because I didn't find that either genre suffered for the presence of the other, which is the danger with a mash-up. And when I say urban fantasy, I don't mean the main character is a walking candy store in leather low-rise pants and big black boots with a smart mouth who is getting it on with her preferred gender of the local paranormal population, as seems so often to be the case. No, no no. In this case the main character is Peter Grant, a London constable. He does have a smart mouth, but mostly he is just plain smart, if a little too easily distracted. He is also young, bi-racial, and curious. In the opening of the book, Peter has a conversation with a ghost who is the only eye-witness to a murder, the scene of which Peter is stuck guarding in the freezing pre-dawn hours. Having no idea that ghosts or anything else supernatural is real until that moment, Peter is a bit surprised. This all leads, in ways that would be spoiler city if I were to explain, to Peter becoming apprenticed to the last wizard in England, and a fun new series. The plot is good, the mystery is good, the pacing is good, the magic system is better than good, but it is the characters that made me love this book. I might not have bother to write about it though, except for the fact that Aaronovitch chose to make Peter Grant bi-racial, and then demonstrated that he clearly knows something about black folks, black women in particular, and immigrant populations, especially the second and later generations.I think it says something about the diaspora, that never having set foot in London outside of a transfer between terminals in Heathrow, I immediately identified with or recognized as familiar several of his characters, just from his description of their homes or clothing. Once they started talking, it was a done deal. Other people closer to the populations in question may find things they disagree with, but I mostly just found myself wondering who this Aaronovitch guy is. I am looking to get my hands on book 2, Moon Over Soho, as soon as possible, and there's a third coming out in November, I believe.