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Whispers Underground by Ben Aaronovitch

Whispers Underground (edition 2012)

by Ben Aaronovitch

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8475210,623 (4.07)168
Title:Whispers Underground
Authors:Ben Aaronovitch
Info:Del Rey (2012), Mass Market Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library

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Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch

  1. 40
    Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (Jannes)
    Jannes: For all your "supernatural secrets in the London underground" needs.
  2. 10
    A Madness of Angels: Or, the Resurrection of Matthew Swift by Kate Griffin (amberwitch)
    amberwitch: Offbeat magicians in London

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When a body is found stabbed to death at the far end of Baker Street tube station, it seems like an ordinary murder. The victim is an exchange student at Central St. Martins named James Gallagher and his father is an American senator. The Folly have been called in to assist with the investigation and it is quickly discovers that there is a supernatural component to this crime. This case leads Peter Grant into the secret underground that lies underneath the streets of London.

Peter Grant is back in the third book in the series, still a sorcerer’s apprentice to Inspector Nightingale. The Folly, which is the police department that specialises in the supernatural has grown to three, as Lesley May officially joins the team. Yet again this is a natural progression in the series, Peter doesn’t know many spells and still struggles with his form but he has grown as a police officer, a wizard and a person. What I enjoyed about Whispers Under Ground is the character Dr Abdul Haqq Walid is explored in greater detail. He is a world renowned gastroenterologist and cryptopathologist who works with the Folly and is investigating how magic effects the world. This allows Ben Aaronovitch to build his world a bit more and explores the effects of magic.

While this is an urban fantasy series, it follows the tropes found in a police procedural and Peter Grant never just relies on his magical abilities but rather sticks to his strengths, which he learned from his training. There is a lot of investigational work within the series and sometimes I worry that the police procedural elements will over power the urban fantasy or humour, however Aaronovitch gets the balance right.

If you have not read the series, I would highly recommend it mainly because of the character development, in particular Peter Grant and Nightingale. Peter Grant is a biracial character (his mother is from Sierra Leone and I am pretty sure his father is white) and his heritage and life play a big part in shaping him. This also allows Ben Aaronovitch to play a little with racism but I feel like he handles the whole subject well. Inspector Nightingale is a prim and proper Englishman and the last officially sanctioned English Wizard, having gone to a now defunct private school for wizardry allows for plenty of Harry Potter jokes.

This is a fun series that I am completely immersed in; when I finished Whispers Under Ground I didn’t want to leave the world. I started Broken Homes (which is book four) straight away, which is unusual for me but I needed to know what happened next. For fans of urban fantasy, police procedurals and British humour, I highly recommend the Peter Grant series, I do not think you will be disappointed.

This review originally appeared on my blog; http://literary-exploration.com/2015/02/25/whispers-under-ground-by-ben-aaronovi... ( )
  knowledge_lost | Feb 26, 2015 |

In Peter Grant's third adventure, the ethically challenged wizard apprentice detective constable is quite literally driven to the dark depths of London as he is trying to solve the murder on the son of an American senator which may involve some weird shit (e.g. Magic)...

I'm not too familiar with Urban Fantasy, but from what I've heard this is a nice example, as it really blends the fantasy-bits in with the more believable London. I enjoyed it for sure! It is written in such a witty style, making you laugh out loud on the train - and thus being looked at as if there was something wrong with me. It also involves quite some references! (You can never put to many in a book!). And now, all that's left is to wait till the new book is published... ( )
  Floratina | Jan 4, 2015 |
Yet another badly blurbed book in this series. Don't believe anything on the back cover, it completely fails to convey the plot at all. Fun though.

Peter puts the deaths in the last book behind him, and continues to do some proper policing - with Leslie's assistance. Even though she's still on medical leave, she has become part of the Arrangement - much to some parties dislike. Meanwhile of course he's continuing his own experiments with magic to Nightingales' annoyance, and a much more furtive investigation into the Faceless Man and the cadre of trained magicians who don't have sanction from the Folly.

Most of the story though is pure police procedural as a body is found on a Underground platform with little evidence as to how it came to be there. Peter teams up with a member of the British Transport Police (who certainly wouldn't have been caving on Dartmoor, that being granite rather than the limestone Mendips the author might have been thinking of). Explorations lead them into even more unexpected waters than Peter imagined, and the Sisters aren't that impressed either.

Develops many of the leads created in Moon - with space for plenty of future books. I do hope Ben will be careful in the continuity throughout the series, and not just forget some of the ideas raised. ( )
  reading_fox | Jan 1, 2015 |
I had trouble following this third Peter Grant adventure. There's more about the Faceless Man, plus some random folks living under ground, plus a guy who may be a fairy or goblin or not. I don't know. I did like some of the continuity of detail from previous books, though. One character, for example, suffers severe injuries in the first book, and is still working through the lengthy recovery even now. I keep reading because I like the characters, and I keep hoping the plot will start making sense eventually. ( )
  melydia | Oct 30, 2014 |
I love this series but the earlier two books had a few too many flaws to warrant 5 stars. It's like starting Discworld in chronological order and at last getting to the really good ones like Wyrd Sisters or Guards, Guards, only quicker. Frankly, it would be harder for a mixture of comic fantasy, police procedural and psychogeography of a firmly multicultural 21st century London to be better than this. I hadn't been looking forward to the interpolation of lots of Americanisms, in a plot featuring a US murder victim and the FBI agent who arrives in his wake, but none of the local atmosphere is lost and Agent Reynolds never hogs the limelight although she's very good at her job.

It's great reading about streets you can remember walking down yourself, especially whilst in such a good mood that you forget to be sad about missing them.

And I really like the characterisation of Lesley here. (Also, those people who criticised her situation, or the female characters generally, in Moon Over Soho definitely jumped the gun.) In the previous book, Aaronovitch was excellent and realistic about the social isolation she experienced whilst having to live out of town with her injuries. Here, whilst she's back working to a limited extent, he still shows alongside a realistically slow adjustment process, how even if you want to be robust and have a sense of humour about things, other, well-meaning, people's responses to odd disabilities can still really hurt - plus also there's also mention the odd paradox of still being attractive in some ways, even whilst the other stuff has become a serious and unattractive obstacle on both sides.

Just like Pratchett, there are lots of references here to keep the well-informed and smug entertained. Material about role-playing where I may have missed a few things, architecture, centuries-old writers repurposed, and my favourites, unsignposted things that you have to know to spot, e.g. "Kevin bloody Nolan". (Though D&C, high street men's clothing - not G, it's obviously lower-end than that - remains a mystery, Google still bringing up the more established and distinctly less pleasant first associations for those letters.) Mentions of "Grant and May" and Hermione and Harry that confirm, as if it wasn't already obvious from his intelligence, that Aaronovitch knows exactly who his characters' antecedents are.

Sgt Kumar of the British Transport Police, their own, less official ghostbuster - and in his spare time urban explorer and potholer - is another character I'm looking forward to hearing more of in subsequent books. The series is doing a very good job of having enough of a self-contained story in one volume whilst also building up characters and carrying over a few plot elements from previous books. ( )
  antonomasia | Sep 7, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ben Aaronovitchprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Holdbrook-Smith, KobnaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Knowles, PatrickCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Walter, StephenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Now what is your paltry book,

Or the Phidian touch of the chisel's point,

That can make the marble look,

To this monster of ours, that for ages lay

In the depths of the deaming earth,

Till we brought him out with a cheer and a shout,

And hammer'd him into birth?"

—"The Engine," Alexander Anderson
In memory of Blake Snyder (1957-2009) who not only saved the cat but the writer, the mortgage and the career as well.
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When the son of a wealthy, politically powerful family is found dead, London constable and sorcerer's apprentice Peter Grant investigates this case, which is linked to a rogue magician known as the Faceless Man--and which takes him deep within the deadliest subway system in the world.… (more)

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