Saturday, January 07, 2012

Moon Over Soho

Rather than continuing with the rather depressing jihadi novel, I read Ben Aaronovitch's Moon Over Soho today, in between bouts of driving a fake car through video games.

It made me terribly homesick for London, especially Soho. There are several chase scenes, down streets in Soho that I'm very familiar with from my years working there, and it turns out that just the mention of the Admiral Duncan pub or Brewer Street is like one of Proust's madeleines, bringing up memories of London.

That aside, I found myself vaguely dissatisfied with the book at the half way stage; it felt less focussed than his first novel. Just as with Rivers Of London, I could see some plot developments long before the narrator could, and I was growing frustrated with his myopic inattention to these things. Also, having worked in Soho I feel it's unrealistic to have a sex scene on a rooftop there, if there's not an urchin working for a new media company spying on you from another rooftop. Just sayin'.

However, the last pages rescued it. Although there was a crash-bang-wallop battle on a rooftop that I didn't think much of, the way the book tidied up the loose ends with a downbeat denouement at the Cafe de Paris was masterful, and the preparation for the third novel (out later this year, I think) was great. Not blatant this-is-the-sequel-so-we-don't-have-to-tie-things-up behaviour, but a nice little twist to get you waiting for the third book, and at the same time joining the first and last chapters together tidily.

Nice work, even if he committed the jarring error (for me) of confusing the Radcliffe Science Library (large, sandstone rectangular box on the Parks Road in Oxford) with the Radcliffe Camera ("a circular domed building thay looks like St Paul's with the extraneous religious bits cut off", which to be fair is a great description, but which sits outside Brasenose and is full of arty types). I guess maybe it shows he's a true Londoner, resolutely unfamiliar with the rest of the world?

And he doesn't think much of Cheam. I hope the third book doesn't go near Croydon or Crystal Palace, it would be horrific.


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