THE HANGING TREE
PETER GRANT, #6
REPRESENTATION: BLACK PROTAGONIST, MUSLIM SUPPORTING CHARACTER
GENRES/ SUBJECTS: URBAN FANTASY, WIZARDS, MYSTERY
Suspicious deaths are not usually the concern of PC Peter Grant or the Folly, even when they happen at an exclusive party in one of the most expensive apartment blocks in London. But Lady Ty’s daughter was there, and Peter owes Lady Ty a favour.
Plunged into the alien world of the super-rich, where the basements are bigger than the house and dangerous, arcane items are bought and sold on the open market, a sensible young copper would keep his head down and his nose clean. But this is Peter Grant we’re talking about.
He’s been given an unparalleled opportunity to alienate old friends and create new enemies at the point where the world of magic and that of privilege intersect. Assuming he survives the week….
The Rivers of London/ PC Peter Grant series is probaly my favourite urban fantasy series out at the moment. It’s basically a more diverse Dresden Files — full of wisecracking pop-culture references, action-packed fights and a bit of detective work — but with a really dry, sarcastic Brit humour, and complaining about the paperwork.
I love Peter as a character. He’s smart and geeky, and takes genuine glee in investigating what magic can do. He’s a really good detective and a competent magician — but not super-powered the way protagonist so often seem to become in UF. Which makes sense, he’s only been at it a few years — whereas his mentor, Nightingale is in his 100s. Instead, Peter’s more practical. He does threat assessments (but might just blow something up anyway for convenience), works with a team/ back-up and calls in Nightingale to fight the supervillain when necessary. All of this makes him more believable and relatable.
This book goes back to the series’ main mystery (book 5 was a fun detour) of Peter’s ex-partner Lesley May and her team up with the villainous Faceless Man. There’s a big development this time and some exciting stuff still to be uncovered. I really liked seeing Peter work more with police officer Guleed in this instalment. I really like the back-and-forth between them and think she’s going to make for a really good supporting character to Peter. The Hanging Tree also pulls in other things from previous books, which I think is important in a longer running series — the Quiet Ones, Mr Punch, the FBI team-up, and the current and past embodiments of the London rivers. I loved the Rivers, as always. Beverely is suitably snarky and fun, while Lady Tyburn is as scary and powerful as ever. I also liked that there was a touch of queer rep thrown in with a lesbian minor character.
I listened to The Hanging Tree as an audiobook, and although don’t normally ‘review’ the audiobook itself, I wanted to mention how good this one was. It’s the first instalment of the series I’ve listened to (I read the rest as hardcopies), so I don’t know if Kobna Holdbrook-Smith is the narrator for them all. He does an amazing job of covering different ages, genders, classes and different accents from within London, to Manchester, Scotland and Sierra Leone. And he delivers the deadpan humour so well. I definitely recommend listening to his version of the story. There’s also an interview with Holdbrook-Smith and Aaronovitch at the end about the voicework, which is really interesting.