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The Hanging Tree

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Hanging Tree (2017) Ben Aaronovitch

I just went back and checked, and I pre-ordered this August 2015.

The publication date of this book got pushed back a lot. Yes, there were three (almost complete) comics published in the interim, but I know that didn’t appease a lot of people.

Me? I’m good with it. I’d rather an author took their time with a book then giving me shlock just to meet a deadline.

And regarding the comics, I think this series is getting bigger thane expected, and that’s a way to keep things from getting away from him. After all, the comics give you glimpses into Nightingale’s past, more of Varvara Sidorovna, and many tiny shorts of Molly and Toby (no, really, I love the Toby bits), and a how Peter comes to work with Guleed. And it gave me something to read during the extremely long wait for this book.

So this book opens with a dead teenager and a call from Lady Tyburn asking Peter to make sure her daughter was kept out of the investigation. Lady Ty doesn’t quite get Peter and modern policing.

“And Peter,” said Lady Ty, “Nightingale is not to know about this— is that clear?”

“Crystal,” I said.

As soon as she hung up, I called the Folly.

One of the things I love about this series are the random geek jokes scattered throughout, from the name dropping of Terry Pratchett to incredibly geeky comments.

(I)f you look at a floor plan it looks like two Star Destroyers have backed into each other during maneuvers.

I nearly said it was like setting a phaser to overload, but I’ve learned to keep that kind of joke to myself, even with people who make Harry Potter references— especially with people who make Harry Potter references.

“Was there anything about Ada Lovelace?” I asked.

Nightingale gave me a funny look.

“Byron’s daughter?” he asked. “I’m not sure I understand the connection.”

“She worked with Babbage on the difference engine,” I said.

“In what capacity?”

“She was a famously gifted mathematician,” I said. Who I mostly knew about from reading Steampunk, but I wasn’t going to mention that. “Generally considered to have written the first true computer program.”

And there is a brief (very brief) bit about Peter’s father playing a gig. Which had this:

Later that evening my dad and the Irregulars struck up “The Sidewinder”.

I love love LOVE Lee Morgan, so that made me ridiculously happy.

But what I also love if that there are so many different kinds of characters, and they’re all unique, and most of the weirdness is just mentioned in passing–background of life as it is. I truly love that. But I also like that although it’s not a central theme, the casual racism Peter (and Guleed) get is there as well.

A couple of people gave me a strange look but, I suspect the majority thought I was on my phone, hands free. Of course some of them detoured to avoid me, but they would have done that even if I’d been silent.

“Get yourself twenty yards behind the targets and follow them,” he said. “Guleed and I will follow ten yards behind you.”

“The targets all know him,” said Guleed.

“They know Peter Grant the dashing constable about town,” said Nightingale. “In his sweat top they’ll take him for an averagely delinquent youth.”

Not only is that convenient for the story, it’s also sadly true.

Of course, there are a lot of things that happen here besides the dead teenager, including Leslie May turning up, bits about the Rivers and demi-monde, other practitioners appearing, and (finally) the unmasking of the Faceless Man.

There is a lot that happens, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well it was all worked on. After all, things are never easy (or resolved in a single episode) in real life.

I’m glad this was finally published, and I’m waiting impatiently again for the next volume, but I’m not mad he took his time getting the story right to his satisfaction.
Rating: 8.5/10

Published by Daw

Written by Michelle     Categories: 8/10, British, Fantasy, Mystery, Supernatural     Comments (0)    

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