Book Review – Whispers Under Ground

Time for another stop across London with DC Peter Grant, in book three of Rivers of London: Whispers Under Ground. I’ve loved all three books I’ve read of the series so far, but I have to say this was my favourite, for reasons I’ll go into in my review. If you’re not familiar with the series just yet, not only do I highly recommend them, but you can find my reviews of book one and book two right here on the site to guide the way. I’m good like that.

In Tufnell Park, North London, a pair of railway tracks diver under a school, taking train to and from Kings Cross. Wet, filthy, dangerous. Lovely place. And one Sunday before Christmas a sweet (sort of) kid called Abigail took me and my long suffering colleague Lesley May down there to look for a ghost.

We found one.

And that was that, I thought, because come Monday I get to do some proper policing. Person Unknown has been stabbed to death on the tracks at Baker Street tube. Magic may have been involved. And sure enough, in the blood; vestigia, the tell-tale trail magic leaves.

Person Unknown turns out to be the son of a US senator and before you can say ‘International incident’. FBI agent Kimberley Reynolds and her firmly held religious beliefs are on my case.

And down in the dark, in the tunnels of London’s Underground, the buried rivers, the Victorian sewers, I’m hearing whispers of ancient arts and tortured, vengeful spirits… 

It always takes a book to start and set up a series, and now with this being book three, the series is in full swing. So far, this book has been my favourite of the series, because all the essential world building is well and truly established, so thinnnnnngs can only get betterrrrrrr. Ahem.

We encounter a wide selection of characters in this book, some familiar and some new, all of whom contribute to the general hilarity of the story, while there of course being a genuine mystery to solve. Now that Leslie is back at Peter’s side, we get treated to their banter again, and with the murder victim being a bit of an American VIP we get introduced to a fabulous FBI agent as well, who fits in nicely with the dynamic.

I think this book manages to really get the pacing right; previous books have had very long chapters, whereas they are considerably shorter this time around, making it feel like an easier read overall. This does have an impact on the quality of the book. Although I’m not one to be put off by long books or long chapters, it does help knowing that the chapter isn’t going on for an hour which can feel overwhelming when my health is in flare. This is, of course, a very personal preference; I know some people who would say exactly the opposite and would want all chapters to be long. But for me, personally, the balance was struck correctly here. I also really enjoyed the chapter names being Underground stations as it really helped with the vibe.

The murder mystery that we’re faced with in this book has the big question hanging over it after the second book: does this have to do with the bigger situation at hand? We see Peter, Leslie and Nightingale making their way through the case while also wading through their background casework, which gives an element of realism to the story, as we all know that police officers are often working on so many cases at one time – even if they do specialize in ghosts, ghouls and goblins.

Once again I’m keen to jump into the next book because of how much fun I had with this book, and I’m feeling grateful that I’ve come to the series a bit late as it means I’ve got a backlog of books to enjoy without having to pace anxiously counting down for the next release. For now.


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