Amongst Our Weapons

By Ben Aaronovitch

A long running series is a mixed blessing. You can return to the same characters over the books, but too often a series becomes stale quickly and the characters seem to live in statis were they never change. This can never be said of the excellent Rivers of London novels by Ben Aaronovitch and the ninth outing Amongst Our Weapons is the usual tale of strange crime on the streets of London, but it is also a story about new beginnings and the start of the end for some. 

Hidden beneath the streets of London are the Silver Vaults, home to several specialists in exceptional quality items. They know a lot about hallmarks, but not about holy entities and murder. A man was killed after a blinding flash of light, some witnesses state seeing a divine creature. This sounds just like the type of case for The Folly and while DC Peter Grant has dealt with magic before he has never tackled the heavens, but if the Spirits of the River exist, who is to say that those in the sky are false? 

The secret to the Rivers series has always been the excellent balance between fantasy and police work that Aaronovitch creates. I read a lot of crime fiction and the best are those that make the procedural nature of the job enjoyable to read. Aaronovitch manages to do this with magical procedure. DC Grant has always been a curious cop, by book nine he is also experienced. The basics have been covered and Grant is able to indulge in some fun experiments that help to solve the case. 

The case itself is another interesting one that sees Grant and others in the Specialist Unit visit parts of London and beyond. It is full of the secret societies and misuse of magic that you have come to love about the series. The banter between the officers is also there. Aaronovitch always grounds the stories by making the interaction between the police and the public so entertaining. There is a cynicism and humour to the police that feels authentic. 

All the elements are present for another solid outing for the series, but there is more to the book than this. Peter’s partner is about to give birth to their first children. This is complicated enough, but when the mother is an essence of a river, it gets even harder. Grant is on a timeline to solve the case before the children are born. Over the books Aaronovitch has continued to develop Grant and all the other characters. The books have reached a point where change feels natural. As a new father, Peter has more responsibilities at home, but also at work as be trains other officers. The final acts of the book are to promise further evolution in the series, and it has been done superbly. 

I would go as far to say that in a series that has always had a high standard Amongst Our Weapons is one of the best and that is an achievement after nine books. There is a maturity to the world and characters by now that Aaronovitch and the reader loves the play in. The crime elements are strong, and the banter remains, but there is also a sense of evolution and an author who is not afraid to develop, expand and improve on their ideas.  

Written on 18th April 2023 by .

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