With this long new novella, bestselling author Ben Aaronovitch has crafted yet another wickedly funny and surprisingly affecting chapter in his beloved Rivers of London series.
If you thought magic was confined to one country—think again.
Trier: famous for wine, Romans and being Germany’s oldest city.
When a man is found dead with his body impossibly covered in a fungal rot, the local authorities know they are out of their depth. But fortunately this is Germany, where there are procedures for everything.
Enter Tobias Winter, an investigator for the Abteilung KDA, the branch of the German Federal Criminal Police which handles the supernatural. His aim is to get in, deal with the problem, and get out with the minimum of fuss, personal danger and paperwork.
Together with frighteningly enthusiastic local cop, Vanessa Sommer, he quickly links the first victim to a group of ordinary middle aged men whose novel approach to their mid-life crisis may have reawakened a bloody conflict from a previous century.
As the rot spreads, literally, and the suspect list extends to people born before Frederick the Great, Tobias and Vanessa will need to find allies in some unexpected places.
And to solve the case they’ll have to unearth the secret magical history of a city that goes back two thousand years.
Presuming that history doesn’t kill them first.
In this enjoyable spin-off from the Rivers of London urban fantasy series, Aaronovitch successfully transfers his blend of the supernatural and humor from England to the Continent as he introduces Tobias Winter, a German police officer who practices magic. Winter is teamed with Vanessa Sommer, an expert in wine-related crime, after his boss learns of a "suspicious death with unusual biological characteristics" in Trier. The body of an unidentified man had been found in a culvert, covered in what appeared to be gray fur but was actually a fungal infection that had suffocated him. Sommer is able to identify the fatal fungus as noble rot, used to intentionally infect wine grapes by some vintners, including Jacqueline Stracker, whose vineyard is located on a slope above where the corpse was discovered. Winter and Sommer's interview of Stracker leads to suspicions that Kelly, goddess of the River Kyll, is somehow involved. Supernatural mystery fans who enjoy more whimsical takes on the paranormal will hope for more of Winter and Sommer.
A Peter Grant book without Peter Grant
This is the first book of Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant/Rivers of London series that I’ve seen that has a different narrator and a different setting - yet is very much part of the same world and references some of the characters and events from the other books.
It’s as enjoyable as all the rest, but what’s surprising is how similar it feels despite being narrated by a different character. At times I forgot that the narrator wasn’t Peter, because the feel of the narrative is so similar. I didn’t really get a strong sense of Tobias as a separate character.
Still, very enjoyable, with a nicely twisty plot, and well worth reading.