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File:Rivers of london 1845.jpg

 "A police whistle on Bow Sreet. For a moment I felt a connection, ... with the night, the streets, the whistle and the smell of blood and my own fear, with all the other uniforms of London down the ages..."


Rivers of London is a series of books which follow the career of Peter Grant, Detective Constable and apprentice wizard, as he tackles supernatural crime in London along with his superior officer, and Master Wizard, Detective Chief Inspector Nightingale. Written by former Doctor Who writer Ben Aaronovitch, two books have been released so far, with a third set to launch soon.

The books are:

  • Rivers of London, or Midnight Riot in the US
  • Moon Over Soho
  • Whispers Under Ground (to be released....June 21st 2012 in the UK and late July 2012 in the there!)

With its realistic London setting, it's a good example of Urban Fantasy where the Masquerade is maintained by a combination of stealth and public indifference.

There is a website where you can read about the background of the novel, including a Character Blog.

The books contain examples of:

  • Alcoholic Parent: Peter's dad is a serious and habitual drug addict. He isn't a bad parent but just a bit ineffectual, although Peter's mother being an Apron Matron probably means she did all the parenting stuff anyway. As of the end of Moon Over Soho he's clean, and remarks that of all the drugs he quit, nicotine was the hardest.
  • Altum Videtur: The magic spells are all in Latin (but only because they were written down by Isaac Newton who used the language of Scientific Gentlemen of his day).
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: The cover of the US edition transforms Peter from a mixed race nerd (by his own admission he looks more North African than anything else) into a Scary Black Man.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: The Rivers themselves, and the Big Bad of book one.
  • Apron Matron: Mama Thames (it is implied that Peter's own mother is an example of this trope).
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • In book one, Isis swears on her true name, her husband's life, and the future prospects of the Oxford Rowing Team that Peter will be safe.
    • In book two, DC Trollope speculates one of the Asshole Victims had to be into some really sick and disgusting stuff like child porn, snuff films, or kitten strangling.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • The would-be rapist whose victim has a Vagina Dentata. No efforts are spent in trying to confirm this though.
    • All the other victims in Soho fall squarely into this trope too.
  • Awful Truth: Whatever it was Nightingale saw and did at Ettersberg (now known as Buchenwald).
  • Big Bad: Mister Punch in book one, the Faceless Wizard in book two.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Sure the Big Bads get stopped, but book one ends with Lesley's face falling off, book two ends with the suicide of Peter's love interest and her sisters when they realise what they are.
  • Black Comedy: Very much in evidence throughout, as police officers' sense of humour tends to this (which is Truth in Television). DC Trollope's version of Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking being a prime example.
  • Body Horror: The victims of Punch.
  • British Coppers: This page is required reading, the book goes into detail about London ranks and practices.
  • Britain Is Only London: Well, London and Thames Valley. Lampshaded in Moon Over Soho; Nightingale tells Peter that there's more to life than London, and Peter replies "People keep saying that, but I've never actually seen any proof".
  • Character Blog: Peter has his blog here, and his Twitter feed here. Caution these will contain spoilers.
  • Children Are Innocent: The Ghost Magistrate doesn't see the harm in wife beating, but harm a child and he is a Hanging Judge.
  • Cold Iron: Mentioned to be a problem for the river folk in Moon Over Soho.
  • The Consigliere: Oxley is this to Father Thames. Tyburn would like to be this to Mama Thames, but comes across as closer to The Starscream.
  • Cool Car: Nightingale's classic Jaguar (a Mark 2 XK6) and Beverly Brook's new MINI.
  • Covers Always Lie: The blurb on the UK version tries to sell the book as a Harry Potter clone. Anyone who bought the book on the basis of that is in for a shock. The US version has its own problems.
  • Creator Provincialism: Ben Aaronovitch has admitted on his site and in his Author descriptions to absolutely adoring London and not wishing to live anywhere else. Peter is very much in the same mold, some people do try to call him out on this however.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Molly the Maid. Mostly human looking, but has a snake like tongue, a smile that is just a bit too wide and too full of razor sharp teeth.
  • Death Glare: Given by Tyburn after Peter blows up her fountain, trashing her garden. In his defence she had just been trying to Mind Rape him.
  • Debate and Switch: At the end of Soho Simone and her sisters are revealed to be inadvertently feeding off of other people's lifeforce to stay alive, Nightingale is for summary execution as per historical treatment of similar creatures. Peter says they have rights under law, Nightingale counters that it would blow the Masquerade wide open to go through the courts, and it looks like they have a major dilemma on their hands. Then the sisters commit suicide because they cannot live with the revelation solving everything neatly.
  • Demonic Possession: The MO of the Big Bad from book one.
  • Desk Jockey: Peter's fate before meeting Nightingale.
  • Domestic Abuse: The Ghost Magistrate is fine with this, all women are shrews after all.
  • Do Not Call Me Paul: Tyburn? That is Lady Ty to you, peasant.
  • Dropped a Bridget On Him: Ash Thames discovers during sex the woman he picked up in a bar in Soho is a very convincing crossdresser. It turns out not to bother him, he was having too much fun to care. Peter is a little discomforted by the revelation though.
  • Easter Egg: The covers of the UK editions are loaded with them.
  • Fair Cop: Lesley May. Shame about that run-in with Mr. Punch's Dissimulo spell.
  • First-Person Smartass
  • Genki Girl: Beverly Brook.
  • Gentleman and a Scholar: DCI Nightingale, right down to the silver tipped cane.
  • Gentleman Wizard: DCI Nightingale again
  • Ghostapo: Whatever happened at Ettersberg.
  • Girl Of The Book: Beverly in book one, and Simone in book two.
  • Grand Theft Me: Ghost Henry Pyke by way of Mr. Punch does this to Lesley for most of the book one.
  • Gratuitous German: Used by Peter to a German family who get trapped in the middle of the riot.
  • Half Human Hybrids: Created by Black Mag....Ethically Challenged Magic in Soho.
  • Hidden Depths: Nightingale may look like an Officer and a Gentleman, but he once personally destroyed two Tiger tanks by himself.
  • IC Number: Referenced and explained.
  • Insistent Terminology: When Peter and Nightingale discover they're up against a black magician in book two, Peter points out that the term "black magician" is problematic, particularly since Peter is of African descent and is thus, in a sense, himself a black magician. Thereafter he uses variations on "ethically challenged magical practitioner" instead.
  • Instant Sedation: Peter wants something that does this, Dr Walid explains there is no such thing (although he can come up with something that will work reasonably quickly at the expense of common sense and basic safety). That would be etorphine hydrochloride - an opioid derivative a thousand times stronger than morphine, commonly used as a general anesthetic for large animals and perfectly capable of causing fatal respiratory arrest in very small doses. Dr Walid helpfully supplies Peter with auto-injectors of Narcan (an opioid antidote) as well as a card to give paramedics in case of accidental exposure.
  • Jerkass: Tyburn, oh is she ever. And A Manipulative Bitch to boot.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Peter.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Peter again.
  • Lesbian Cop: Detective Sergeant Stephanopoulis, described as a "terrifying lesbian". She's also an Old-Fashioned Copper and the only joke ever told about her sexuality is "do you know what happened to the last sod who made fun of Stephanopoulis? Neither does anyone else, they haven't found the body yet".
  • Lethal Chef:
    • Molly acquires more than a bit of this trope in book two. As long as she is cooking traditional Victorian style food she is top notch, but when she tries branching out into anything else it all goes a bit wrong.
    • Peter's mother also qualifies on grounds she believes that anything that is not on the verge of spontaneous combustion does not have enough chilli peppers in it.
  • Losing Your Head:
    • The unfortunate Larry The Lark, head chopped off, served up on a silver platter at a banquet in the sixties...and and still kept alive by ethically challenged magic until the conclusion of Soho. Just to add to the Humiliation Conga it was dressed up in a turban and used as a fortune telling machine.
    • Victims of Mr Punch tend to suffer this as well, though it's a fifty/fifty chance whether you'll have your head whacked off by blunt trauma or blown apart by magic.
  • Mad Libs Catchphrase: Peter, narrating, will occasionally come out with a surprisingly erudite bit of historical knowledge, always followed by "I knew all this because..." was on a plaque he read once to relieve the boredom of guard duty. Or ...Nightingale makes him read Tacitus in the original Latin as part of his magic homework. Or whatever.
  • Maid of Moe: Molly, always wears the full Edwardian-Victorian maid outfit, and to quote the narration in Moon Over Soho.

 Molly glided into the room like the winner of the all-London Gothic Lolita competition.

  • Magic A Is Magic A: Described in minute detail.
  • Magic Versus Science: Magic is an EMP type here. Notably it does have the same effect on human brains as it does on technology, just electrical technology is more sensitive and will short out before your brain does.
    • The novels as a whole avert this though. The organised study of magic originates in the setting with Isaac Newton, and Peter frequently attempts to fit magic into an empiricist, rationalist framework. Magic shorts out modern technology not because magic is inimical to modern science but because, it is speculated, modern culture has made technology quasi-magical in itself.
  • The Masquerade: As per standard in this genre.
  • Mega Neko: The Ethically Challenged Magician creates real catgirls and catboys.
  • Merlin Sickness: Nightingale was born in 1900, aged normally until the 1970s, and then for reasons that are still not clear began getting younger again. The effect is only on his biological age, however; his memory works normally.
  • Mundane Solution: Villain example when Punch decides to just shoot Nightingale.
  • My Grandson, Myself: Mention is made in Moon Over Soho of Nightingale having pretended to be his own son in order to attend an old colleague's funeral without raising awkward questions. Mostly, though, he gets by by keeping to himself and not having protracted interactions with anybody who isn't part of the Masquerade.
  • The Obi-Wan: Nightingale fulfils this role to Peter. Although he verges on Obsolete Mentor a couple of times, especially when it comes to modern police methods, and this is a particular bone of contention at the end of Soho when the issue of Inhumanable Alien Rights and due process through the courts, versus just killing sentient non-human possible criminals comes up.
  • Old-Fashioned Copper: DCI Seawoll.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: See that page for details.
  • Perception Filter: Possessed by the Big Bad of Soho.
  • Police Procedural: The books are as much procedural as they are Urban Fantasy. Only the coppers have to not only apply the law of the land to the non-human community same as they would with regular humans, but also maintain The Masquerade too.
  • Powder Keg Crowd: The patrons at the Royal Opera. Mr. Punch, mind-controlling several police officers via the ghost of Henry Pyke, incites the crowd to riot and burn down most of Covent Garden.
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide:
    • The Big Bad of Soho tries this on Peter to force him to jump off a roof.
    • Tyburn tried something similar in book one to to try and force Peter to drink from her fountain to put himself in thrall to her. The practice he got in then helped him resist the bad guy of Soho.
  • Punch and Judy: It's not nearly as comic when real babies are going splat out the windows and people are beating each other to bloody headless flinders...
  • Put on a Bus: Beverley Brook and Seawoll at the end of book one.
  • Readers Are Genuises: The books are best read with an A-to-Z of London to one side, and a copy of Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable to the other. There is a lot of detail and you will need to keep up.
  • Rich Bitch: Tyburn.
  • Rooftop Confrontation: The climax of Soho.
  • Scars Are Forever: Lesley's horrific injuries at the end of Rivers do not get any better in Soho. Nightingale is still suffering from his wounds too, keeping him firmly in the background and as support.
  • Scenery Porn: Aaronovitch's prose is detailed enough to make this a literary example.
  • Schedule Slip: The ever changing release date of the third novel.
  • Shooting Gallery: The Folly has one for trainee wizards to practice their fireball skills in. As a mark of just how long it has been since it was put use, all the target silhouettes are still shaped like WW 2 Nazis.
  • Shown Their Work: And how!
  • Sliding Scale of Cynicism Versus Idealism: Waaaaay down the cynical side.
  • The Starscream: Tyburn is implied to be one of these to Mama Thames in Rivers and in Soho Nightingale confirms her status, and implies that when the inevitable clash between the two comes that it might be a good time to take a holiday on another continent.
  • Strawman Fallacy: In Soho when confronted with the issue of Inhumanable Alien Rights, Nightingale tries to make Peter concede that he is only arguing for rights for non-humans because the perps are attractive. Peter spots the strawman there, and says that he might not have thought to argue if they were grotesque but that just makes him "shallow, not wrong".
  • Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: Started by Newton, and Peter adds his own contributions to this when he works out why Magic and Electronic Technology are incompatible.
  • Team Pet: Toby the Dog.
  • Textual Celebrity Resemblance: Peter gets teased for looking like Barack Obama.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Name: The Folly is officially merely a part of The Economic and Specialist Crime Team.
  • Urban Fantasy
  • Useless Security Camera: In Rivers, the first murder is caught on CCTV, but a key event in the lead-up to it, vital to figuring out who did it and why, occurs just outside the camera's field of view.
  • Vagina Dentata: Possessed by the Pale Lady, whose first victim is found at the end of book one, and who plays a signficant part in book two.
  • Villainy Free Villain: Tyburn. She's a Rich Bitch Jerkass who really takes far too much pleasure one-upping Peter and while she might be a bit of a Starscream to her mother, her real intentions are to modernise how London (and the rest of the UK) deals with magic, get everything systematised and above board, and do away with the tangles of "arrangements" and "agreements" that have accumulated over the years. Something that Peter himself is pretty keen on, she just goes about it all in a really arsehole-ish ways.
  • The Voiceless: Molly.
  • Watch the Paint Job: That detailed description of how cool Beverly's new car is? You knew it would end up in this trope. Rioters 1: Car 0.
  • What an Idiot!: An In-Universe example when Dr Walid cooks up the fast acting sedative he also gives Peter a card for paramedics to read in case he stabs himself:

 "Warning: I have been stupid enough to stab myself with etorphine hydrochloride."

  • Wizarding School: There used to be one of these. After WWII there just weren't enough people left for it to be useful though.
  • Wizards Live Longer: Nightingale certainly does, but he seems to be something of an exception.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: The first book, of Punch And Judy. Lampshaded by the characters.
  • World of Cardboard Speech: Given by Peter to Tyburn in response to her Reason You Suck Speech, utterly owning her in front of her entire family including Mama Thames herself.
  • You Do NOT Want to Know: Whatever it was Nightingale found in that room during Soho, Peter decides he really doesn't. All we know is that the people who exhume mass graves in Rwanda and Kosovo need to be called to process it and some of what they find is not dead (yet).
  • Your Head Asplode: Happens to one of the Hare Krishnas.