Book Review: Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book 7 of Peter Grant/Rivers of London
Publisher: DAW (November 13, 2018)
Length: 304 pages
I’ve made it no secret that I love Peter Grant/Rivers of London, and right now, it’s easily one of my favorite urban fantasy series. But for the last few books, our characters have been floundering in their hunt for the Faceless Man, the main baddie who has been a constant thorn in the Met’s side since the very beginning, and I was starting to worry that the lack of progress might soon be blowing up in all our faces. Luckily though, those wondering if we’ll ever get to see the end of this Faceless Man’s saga will be pleased to know, Lies Sleeping has the final showdown and answers you’re looking for. After seven books, this resolution was a long time coming, and it was awesome.
Needless to say, if you’re not caught up with the series yet, be aware this review may contain references to events from the previous books, so only read on if you’ve read finished The Hanging Tree to avoid any potential spoilers. Since the last time we saw him, Peter has received a promotion on the police force and is now playing a key role in the operation to take down the Faceless Man, now identified as Martin Chorley, as well as his associate Lesley May, a one-time friend of our protagonist. Chorley’s grand plan for London has also been revealed, involving a dastardly plot to lure out one of the city’s oldest and most deranged gods—a supernatural killer with whom series fans should be very familiar.
For this dangerous game of cat-and-mouse, Peter and his mentor Thomas Nightingale must shore up their resources and gather all the support they can get, calling in help from all corners including the regular police force, history and archeology experts, and even Arthurian scholars. But unfortunately for Peter, Lesley knows all his usual tricks, and worse, where to hit him where it hurts the most. Chorley is up to something big, and no matter how well the Folly plans, their target always seems to be a few steps ahead, constantly slipping through their fingers.
Peter’s resolve has been tested before, but never like this. Lies Sleeping is the big shakeup this series needed, after all the breaks and build-up, and I think it succeeded in delivering both thrilling action and emotional impact. If the goal of the previous book was to bring us back into the thick of things and ramp up the momentum, then this one valiantly took up the baton and ran it to the finish line. I was also ecstatic that I got most of what I’d wished for, number one on that list being more Nightingale in action. While I’m not usually one for literary crushes, I’ve got it seriously bad for that guy. When all is said and done though, taking down the Faceless Man was very much a team effort, and I’m glad we also got the second item on my wishlist, which was seeing more involvement from the rest of the supporting cast. As I expected, Guleed has become a regular, and even more exciting is the fact she’s being brought onto the Falcon magical scene. Abigail becoming a fixture at the Folly was a nice surprise too, after getting know her well from The Furthest Station novella.
Once more, I also found the humor in Lies Sleeping to be on the more muted side, but in this case, I think it’s okay, and even appropriate. Peter still makes me smile occasionally with his dry, sardonic wit, but this was probably one of the more serious sequels, because of all that it had to deal with. Over the course of this series, Peter has matured as a person, taking matters more seriously in both his professional and personal life, becoming a better police officer and a wizard while also settling into a stable relationship with Bev. Still, there are also certain things that never change, and Peter’s mega blind spot with regards to Lesley was the cause of much teeth grinding on my part. There was a moment too where I felt the plot might be falling into a repetitive pattern, but fortunately, Aaronovitch was able to pull things back on track following a lull around the halfway point and save the situation in time for the big finale. Personally, I found the climax to be a bit confusing, in the way things related to the genius loci usually are when it comes to these books, so I suppose that’s nothing new. Regardless, those who have always appreciated this series’ attention to the history and mythology associated with London will find lots of like about this book, I expect.
And finally, Lies Sleeping has the unmistakable feel of a conclusion, though I do sincerely hope that this is just a wrap for the Faceless Man arc, and not for the series itself. It would be cruel to end things right as we’re seeing so much promise for our side characters, not to mention the big news dropped on us in the final few pages, but if this is going to be it, I’m also happy with how things played out. There are a few loose threads I wouldn’t mind seeing addressed, but overall I was impressed with how many conflicts were resolved by strongly tying them back to the series’ roots, i.e. where it all began in Rivers of London. I have no idea where Ben Aaronovitch will take this world and his characters next, but I’ll be crossing my fingers for more.
More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of Whispers Underground (Book 3)
Review of Broken Homes (Book 4)
Review of Foxglove Summer (Book 5)
Review of The Furthest Station (Book 5.7)
Review of The Hanging Tree (Book 6)