Sunday, July 06, 2014
First Published: 2011
The Blurb: I was my dad's vinyl-wallah: I changed his records while he lounged around drinking tea, and that's how I know my Argo from my Tempo. And it's why, when Dr Walid called me to the morgue to listen to a corpse, I recognised the tune it was playing. Something violently supernatural had happened to the victim, strong enough to leave its imprint like a wax cylinder recording. Cyrus Wilkinson, part-time jazz saxophonist and full-time accountant, had apparently dropped dead of a heart attack just after finishing a gig in a Soho jazz club. He wasn't the first.
No one was going to let me exhume corpses to see if they were playing my tune, so it was back to old-fashioned legwork, starting in Soho, the heart of the scene. I didn't trust the lovely Simone, Cyrus' ex-lover, professional jazz kitten and as inviting as a Rubens' portrait, but I needed her help: there were monsters stalking Soho, creatures feeding off that special gift that separates the great musician from someone who can raise a decent tune. What they take is beauty. What they leave behind is sickness, failure and broken lives.
And as I hunted them, my investigation got tangled up in another story: a brilliant trumpet player, Richard 'Lord' Grant - my father - who managed to destroy his own career, twice. That's the thing about policing: most of the time you're doing it to maintain public order. Occasionally you're doing it for justice. And maybe once in a career, you're doing it for revenge.
The review: When I looked at Rivers of London, the first of Aaronovitch’s series, it was as an honourable mention as it did have vampires in it but they only played a small part.
The vampires in the series feed off the magic potential in a surrounding area – making them as much energy vampires as traditional bloodsuckers. In this volume the type of vampires we met previously are mentioned but not actually present. However Grant comes to understand that the creatures killing the jazz musicians are feeding off the life force as described through their music. In short, they are (and named as) Jazz Vampires. Created due to a tragedy, Grant discovers that they have been haunting the London Jazz scene for decades. As well as this case the volume contains a set up for a wider arc around a black magician (or, in a more politically correct sense, an “ethically challenged magical practitioner”) known by Grant as the Faceless Man.
Of course, being a crime mystery as well as urban fantasy, I don't want to spoil the central plot but suffice it to say that its a good continuation of the series. 7 out of 10.