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review 2020-04-21 12:50
"Who Killed Sherlock Holmes? - Shadow Police #3" by Paul Cornell
Who Killed Sherlock Holmes? - Paul Cornell,Damian Lynch

'The Shadow Police' series is a sort of grittier, more working-class, darker version of 'Rivers of London'. Here, magic comes from the weight of London's history, not from river goddesses. The posh folks of The Folly are replaced by a team of London coppers used to bringing down drug dealers and human traffickers and the magic keeps trying to kill them 

 

I found the second book "The Severed Streets" to be well-written but very depressing and soaked in sadness. The Shadow Police themselves are a major source of grief and depression. They deceive each other, distrust each other, despise themselves for the deceit and bemoan the distrust. They are reckless and desperate and well out of their depth.

 

I thought the third book might be more whimsical. After all, how serious can a book called 'Who Killed Sherlock Holmes' be?'.

 

There is a move from total despair towards hope in this book. The main characters are trying to find a way back from the damage that was done to them or that they did to themselves in the last book. I liked that Paul Cornell didn't just have everyone bounce back but recognised that actions have consequences and that dealing with evil always has a price. I also liked that he delivered on the story behind the senior police officer that the Shadow Police report in to. Her story humanised the big reveal and built her into a key character.

 

In 'The Severed Streets' we learned that something big had changed the way magic worked in Londo, letting loose bad things and tainting the magical community by allowing power to be paid for by money rather than personal sacrifice.

 

In 'Who Killed Sherlock Holmes' we learn that the change coincided with the destruction of the magical Establishment - the Continuous Projects Committee that imposes civilised control on magical forces. It's clear that, although The Establishment continued to use traditions that have kept London safe for centuries, they had forgotten why and how the protocols they use to do this operate. They'd become complacent and vulnerable to attack.

 

As a consequence of this::

'The real London was coming back, alongside poverty and tubercolosis and history. The civilised consensus was over.'

Suddenly, I was thinking of Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, ripping apart all the shared assumptions and values that defined the England that the men and women who survived World War II had wanted to create. 

 

I checked the original publication date for this book. May 2016, one month before the Brexit Referendum.

 

It makes you wonder, If something evil broke into our world in 2016, wiping away civilised constraint, what would the world look like in 2020?

 

Actually, I think I know the answer to that question.

 

I enjoyed the book for the puzzle it solved, for the development of the story arc and for the evolution of the characters. The ending wasn't a cliff-hanger but it contained a solid hook that made me want to read book four.

 

Then I was told there is no book four. How can this happen? Ask the publishers.

Here's what Paul Cornell had to say about it in 2017: 'The Future Of The Shadow Police'

 

I hope the series comes back. I think we need a darker view of London and the people running it.

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text 2020-04-17 07:44
Reading progress update: I've read 85%. -you'd think you'd be safe from reality with a book called 'The Death Of Sherlock Holmes'...
Who Killed Sherlock Holmes? - Paul Cornell,Damian Lynch

...but you're not.

 

This series is a sort of grittier, more working-class, darker version of 'Rivers of London'. Here, magic comes from the weight of London's history, not from river goddesses. The posh folks of The Folly are replaced by a team of London coppers used to bringing down drug dealers and human traffickers and the magic keeps trying to kill them 

 

This is the third book. We learned in the earlier books that something big had changed the way magic worked in Londo, letting looks bad things and tainting the magical community by allowing power to be paid for by money rather than personal sacrifice.

 

I've just come to the part where the event that caused this is being revealed 

 

This is where the magical Establishment - the Continuous Projects Committee that imposes civilised control on magical forces - gets blown away. It's clear that, although The Establishment continues using traditions that have kept London safe for centuries, they have forgotten why and how the protocols they use to do this operate. They've become complacent and vulnerable to attack.

 

(spoiler show)

 

Having learned all that, I got this:

 

 

'The real London was coming back, alongside poverty and tubercolosis and history. The civilised consensus was over.'

 

Suddenly, I was thinking of Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, ripping apart all the shared assumptions and values that defined the England that the men and women who survived World War II had wanted to create. 

 

I checked the original publication date for this book. May 2016, one month before the Brexit Referendum.

 

It makes you wonder, If something evil broke into our world in 2016, wiping away civilised constraint, what would the world look like in 2020?

 

Actually, I think I know the answer to that question.

 

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review 2020-03-28 17:47
"Smoke Bitten - Mercy Thompson #12" by Patricia Briggs
Smoke Bitten - Patricia Briggs

I had the audiobook version of this on pre-order. I dived into it the morning it was released and, by the time I'd reached the end of the first chapter, I was already impressed. 

 

One of the challenges in a series like this is how you do the "previously on Mercy Thompson" bit to remind me of what happened in the last book, which I read almost a year ago, without making me want to go "I KNOW all this. Get on with it already." Patricia Briggs managed it expertly, weaving the references in to support the current story, making them an integral part of the telling rather than a preface or an interruption.

 

The other challenge in a book like this is to get the reader hooked in the first chapter. Patricia Briggs is good at this. She often starts by focusing in on the chaotic but happy domestic life of the pack, getting you comfortable, reminding you why you like these people, making you care again and then ends the chapter with the sudden emergence of something that puts Mercy and or the pack under threat. In "Smoke Bitten" she's given this formula a new twist. Within the first few minutes, you know that something is wrong in Mercy's marriage: something that's making her sad; something she doesn't understand. Then you get a demonstration of the problem and only when you're getting immersed in that does something truly weird happen that only Mercy sees.

 

I loved the elegance of this, the care that goes into the structure, the stumble-free prose. the fast, effective characterisation, the connection of these supernatural creatures to issues and emotions we can all relate to and an apparently endless ability to think up new bad guys.

 

"Smoke Bitten" lived up to the promise of the first chapter. The focus stayed firmly on the problem with Mercy's marriage but we still got a new, very scary, bad guy, the return of a well-known bad guy in full stalker mode, and the re-emergence of Underhill, who may or may not be a bad guy but is definitely scary, even when she's being friendly.

 

What I admired most was the way in which Mercy's marriage problems, even when manifesting in their supernatural mating bond and corrupting, nasty magic, remains something real about the nature of trust, in yourself and each other and the need constantly to renew and demonstrate the trust, even in times of trauma. 

 

Patricia Briggs manages to do that without it becoming corny or clichéd and while maintaining the pace of a pressure-filled plot. I really liked the way the magic was visualised this time. It reminded me a little of how Jane Yellowrock sees her soul home but Patricia Briggs gave the concept a twist that made it unique to Mercy. 

 

https://soundcloud.com/penguin-audio/smoke-bitten-by-patricia

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text 2020-03-19 11:00
Reading progress update: I've read 8%. - this arrived today and I dived straight in
Smoke Bitten - Patricia Briggs

I had the audible version of this on pre-order. It was released today and I listened to it while I had breakfast.

 

I've just finished the first chapter and I'm already impressed.

 

 

One of the challenges in a series like this is how you do the "previously on Mercy Thompson" bit to remind me of what happened in the last book, which I read almost a year ago, without making me want to go "I KNOW all this. Get on with it already." Patricia Briggs managed it expertly, weaving the references in to support the current story, making them an integral part of the telling rather than a preface or an interruption.

 

The other challenge in a book like this is to get the reader hooked in the first chapter. Patricia Briggs is good at this. She often starts by focusing in on the chaotic but happy domestic life of the pack, getting you comfortable, reminding you why you like these people, making you care again and then ends the chapter with the sudden emergence of something that puts Mercy and or the pack under threat. In "Smoke Bitten" she's given this formula a new twist. Within the first few minutes, you know that something is wrong in Mercy's marriage, something that's making her sad, something she doesn't understand. Then you get a demonstration of the problem and only when you're getting immersed in that does something truly weird happen that only Mercy sees.

 

I love:  the elegance of this, the care that goes into the structure, the stumble-free prose. the fast, effective characterisation, the connection of these supernatural creatures to issues and emotions we can all relate to and an apparently endless ability to think up new bad guys.

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review 2019-07-19 10:19
"Spirt Witch - Lazy Girl's Guide To Magic #3" by Helen Harper
Spirit Witch - Helen Harper,Tanya Eby

I needed something, light, unchallenging but with enough going for it to keep me interested to read, so I picked up the third book in "The Lazy Girl's Guide To Magic" and settled in to listen.

 

I've resigned myself to having Tanya Eby as the narrator. She does a good job but I can't understand why Tantor picked an American with a very limited range of Brit accents to read a series set in England and Scotland and with no American characters.

 

That rant aside, I slipped on the earphones and gave myself up to the reading equivalent of eating a tub of salted caramel ice cream on a hot day.

 

It was as much fun as I expected but I was surprised to find that it had some real sadness in it. As a result of her encounter with a megalomanic necromancer in "Star Witch", Ivy, our reluctant hero and proudly lazy witch, can now speak to the dead. Some of the people she's speaking to have recently been murdered and I found an unexpected level of empathy for their loss. 

 

By the end of the book, Ivy's "Lazy Witch" persona had effectively been set aside as she finds herself wanting to get involved in preventing bad things from happening.

 

This was a satisfying happy ever after ending to the trilogy and a relaxing way to spend the day.

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