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Fantasy Mystery Romance Comics Non-Fiction

London Falling

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

London Falling (2013) Paul Cornell

I started reading, and briefly thought I had entered in the middle of the story. I hadn’t. It was actually the beginning, but for the characters, they believe they are in the end game. Two cops working undercover to take down a crime lord, the DI running the two UCs, and the analysts who works so far in the background absolutely no one ever sees her except her direct supervising.

And so the story begins like it’s the end of a British police procedural. But then something happens, and things get very weird, and very bad, very quickly.

I fully admit this book–once I figured out what the hell was going on–hit a sweet spot for me. British + mystery + fantasy = WIN in my book. At least if it’s done well.

If you want a quick primer going in, there are four main characters: Costain & Sefton who are the UCs, Quill who is running them, and Ross the analyst.

Costain and Sefton are undercover because they can slip into the world of crime more easily than others, simply because they are men of color.

Interestingly, this parallels the Rivers of London series, where you have main characters who are London cops and men of color, which makes things even harder, because the automatic assumption is that they made the force solely because they are minorities.

It’s also fascinating that these characters are written by white men. Seeing as how I’m not British or black or male, I can’t speak as to the authenticity of these characters, but to me (a white American woman) I was surprised to discover the authors were, in fact, white men. Whether Brits of color would feel the same is something I would be interested in learning.

“Might as well look as if we’re together,” said Sefton, under his breath, as he pressed the tea bag against the side of his cup to try and force out a bit of flavor. “Seeing we’re the only black guys in here.”

“The New Age,” agreed Costain, “does not recruit in line with best practice.

What I particularly liked about the series was how the characters discovered the existence of the supernatural. There are no special hints to you as a reader that something beyond the every day is going to happen, so the reactions seem very natural, and I became very curious as to how the characters were going to deal with/come to terms with the fact the world was not what they were expecting.

I also liked the many fascinating bits and pieces scattered through the story.

“It is time that defines whether something is real or not. Time is what makes what people experience a tragedy or a love story or a triumph. Hell is where time has stopped, where there’s no more innovation. No horizon. No change.”

There were also to fabulous sentences that struck me as absolutely perfect, but I’m going to ROT13, because they are HUGE spoilers.

SPOILER (ROT13)

Naq gura gur zbo evccrq ure shpxvat urneg bhg.

Gung fvatyr fragrapr vf fb oehgny, lrg fbzrguvat lbh qrfcrengryl JNAG gb unccra. Gur obbx pbhyq unir raqrq gurer, naq V jbhyq unir orra fngvfsvrq. Ohg vg qvqa’g raq gurer.

Ohg abj gurer jnf fhqqrayl guvf terng yhzc bs cnva naq uvfgbel jvguva gurve obqvrf. Gurl abj xabpxrq bire sheavgher gb trg gb gubfr guerr puvyqera, orpnhfr fhqqrayl gurl arrqrq gb ubyq gurz fb zhpu.

Ntnva, jvgubhg pbagrkg guvf fragrapr qbrfa’g zrna nalguvat, ernyyl, ohg jvguva gur pbagrkg bs jung unccrarq gb gubfr punenpgref, gung irel vqrn vf nyzbfg oerngugnxvat. Gb unir fbzrguvat ybfg gb lbh, erghearq gb lbh fhqqrayl naq harkcrpgrqyl.

END SPOILERS

And this, far earlier in the book:

“Don’t ever be afraid of the responsibility of offering an opinion.”

That probably needs pinned to a bulletin board somewhere.

This book isn’t for anyone. If you don’t like Simon Green‘s Nightside or Mike Carey‘s Felix Castor or Ben Aaronovitch‘s Rivers of London, then don’t bother. It’s dark, and very bad things happen.

But I also found it utterly fascinating.

Yes, it was initially confusing, but once you get past that, it’s well worth the initial work of figuring out who’s who.
Rating: 9/10

Published by Tor

 

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