Broken Homes is book number four in Ben Aaronovitch’s PC Peter Grant series. This book differs from the previous three in structure; Peter is working on several cases at once, and they’re not all related. In fact, there’s only two that are truly related to the magical parts of London.
PC Peter Grant is called in when the cops find blood they can’t account for at a traffic accident. Their prime suspect is one Robert Weil, one of the apprentices of the original Faceless Man. There’s blood, but where’s the body? A man jumps in front of a train, but the circumstances are odd. Jaget Kumar shows Peter the footage, and they agree there was magical interference. Meanwhile, a stolen book on magic turns up, but hasn’t been reported stolen. It used to belong to Erik Stomberg, a German architect who happened to design one of the most infamous landmarks in London people have been trying to demolish for years. A grandfather injures himself during his granddaughter’s birthday party, while trying to create a werelight. Very few of these cases seem to be related, yet Peter can’t help but feel the Faceless Man has come back into play.
Peter remains an interesting guy (perhaps the most interesting guy around), with his almost cynical world view, his desire to do good and to protect people and his insistence to apply the scientific method to his magical experiments. He’s improving under Nightingale’s tutelage, and yet he keeps being surprised by new things. I like that he’s not unfazed by magic just yet. His interactions with people, both family, friends and strangers, feel real and organic.
I enjoyed the stint Peter and Lesley did undercover. Their interactions with the people in the building were very enjoyable and their sneaking around trying to do proper police work while maintaining their cover was great. I also liked that Lesley actually confronted Peter about him not acting on his feelings for Beverly, though Peter did a good job not actually answering her question. If there’s one thing Peter’s good at, it’s deflecting.
There’s also a new mystery to solve: what’s Molly doing on the computer? Is she on the web? Surfing through websites to look for recipes, maybe? Is she writing about her crazy life at the Folly? And why is she doing it secretly? I think Peter would have no problem with her using the computer if she asked him.
In this book Nightingale gets to shine a lot more; his uses of magic are few, but when they happen, they’re explosive. You really get the sense he’s a lot more powerful than anyone ever imagines. This proper gentleman is a real bad ass! Peter’s done well with his mentor.
And that twist! I didn’t see it coming, but then again, I’ve read other books in between this series, so I don’t remember all the details. Or I might have missed subtle foreshadowing. Either way, I look forward to rereading the series and catching what I may or may not have missed.
9/10 (because why end it on such cliffhanger?! Be still, my heart!)