Wednesday, 9 August 2017

The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch

*Some Spoilers Below*

I find it hard to write reviews for books far into a series that I've read, loved, and reviewed. I start to feel like I've run out of new things to say about a milieu that's familiar, with characters I know and enjoy, and stories that all identifiably come from the same pen. That being said, the Peter Grant series is one of my favourite comfort reads on the market today, and it jumped into that category almost as soon as finished the first one.

These are exactly the sort of books that I want to own and have on hand, and in the morning, when I'm not up for something new, but want something to read while I'm eating my oatmeal, I reach for one. I've read each of the first five several times each, and when I want an audiobook comfort read, this is also where I turn. I haven't listened to this book yet on audio, but the series narrator has some of the best audiobook chops I've ever heard.

What I'm saying is, if you're looking for enjoyable urban fantasy, this is probably what you want. That being said, don't jump in with this book. Where the other ones have strongly centered around one police case, this one is much more about gathering together all the disparate threads that have been emerging over the last several books, and weaving them together.

There is a case at the centre, but compared to the attention on Lesley and on the Faceless Man, it gets comparatively little screentime. It's mostly notable for how much it pisses off Lady Tyburn, given that it concerns her daughter, Olivia. Olivia is present at a party where a girl ends up dead from a drug overdose (and, thanks to Dr. Walid and his new associate's work, we also know due to thaumatological damage) (brain damage from Too Much Magic.)  Tyburn calls up Peter to lean on him to keep her daughter out of the police investigation, which is promptly scuppered when Olivia blurts out in a formal interview that she supplied the drugs.

That becomes less important as we discover that the dead girl had been involved with a French trickster fox character in selling the prized possessions of the Faceless Man on eBay, which means that both the Faceless Man and Lesley start interfering the investigation in fairly major ways.

Both my husband and I were seriously worried for Nightingale, and Peter has been emphasizing for a couple of books now how slow the process of learning magic is, and how Nightingale is all that stands between the forces of evil and annihilation. I would be very upset if Nightingale is eventually killed off, but not all that surprised.

Let's see...Peter is happily mostly shacked up with Beverly, which worries her sister Tyburn, given that Tyburn will outlive her husband and children. Although I'm not sure that's as much a worry with Peter, given that Nightingale has been aging backwards for decades. With an absolutely mundane man, sure, but does it really apply in this case?

At any rate, there are showdowns and near misses as Peter and Nightingale, and Peter's new de facto partner, Sahra Guleed, who I like quite a lot, get ever closer to the Faceless Man, and his mundane identity is revealed in this book. There's also a very interesting discussion between Peter and the Faceless Man at the end of the book that offers some clues to what the master plans might be (and they sound just a little racist to me, and I'm quite sure that's deliberate).

All in all, I enjoyed this one, but I wasn't in it for the mystery, which is largely shunted off to the side in favour of the larger overarching plot that is quickly getting nearer a boil.

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