It’s not even the middle of June and I have surprised myself by already having read a couple of the books from my #20BooksofSummer list.
This is definitely due to the fact that I still don’t have access to library books and buying all the books is getting expensive. However, this weekend I will be collecting new library books thanks to curbside service so let’s see how long I can keep this going!
The first book we’re going to talk about from the list is Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch. Peter Grant is a brand new London constable and he and his friend, Lesley May, are keeping an eye on a crime scene in the middle of the night when a ghost tells Peter what happened to the victim. This encounter leads Peter to a secret unit within the police that is dedicated to keeping the world of magic happy.
Except the world of magic is not happy and Peter is soon on the trail of a pissed of spirit that is wreaking havoc all over the city, murdering civilians and splitting open faces. Rivers of London is billed as if Harry Potter grew up and became a police officer and there are some charming moments calling that story to mind in the beginning.
This might not have been the time to read a story about the police full of jokes about the systems that keep poor people in their place.
Additionally, Ben Aaronovitch is a white male and some of his choices with regards to his characters are problematic. Peter Grant is biracial and that seems to have given Aaronovitch license to make generalizations about Black women, like that Black moms bring their children to work because they expect them to work. That might be true – I don’t have an experience of having a Black mom. But it feels wrong and icky coming from someone who also presumably doesn’t have that experience.
And then there is the way that he’s written about women in general. Peter Grant “gets hard” in the presence of Mother Thames, a beautiful Black woman he is supposed to be working with to figure out what’s going on. Instead he objectifies her. He also enjoys watching the breasts of every female character straining against sweaters and brushing against his shoulders.
A few years ago, I might have been able to enjoy this book for what it is – a police procedural with a twist – but now? I had a hard time getting past these serious flaws and I’m probably not going to search out the rest of the books in the series.