Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch
Witty, fun and the perfect blend of supernatural, police procedural, humor and the best of being British. But start with book 1.
Broken Homes starts with PC Peter Grant, his partner Lesley, and their boss the wizard of waverly place trying to figure out if the dude who ran a red light secretly had something supernatural in the back of his trunk. Later, they find an unidentifiable body with its face scraped off, buried in the forest, which along with a random suicide on the tracks seem to be connected to a development in Elephant & Castle, south of the river. What does this all have to do with their enemy, the Faceless Man, and what is he planning next?
Book 4 of a series previously reviewed here, this work can somewhat stand alone but it’s really better if you go through the books in order.
Peter has matured somewhat, in his magic skills and his general well-being, and though he has his moments, he’s still a good bloke trying to do right by the world. I like how he’s very human and Ben Aaronovitch portrays him as someone with advantages but who still has his own struggles that aren’t just fixed away by magic. (I keenly felt his guilt and frustration when his mother called to say that his dad needs to get his teeth fixed, and can Peter pay for half, and Peter had to avoid her because he was ashamed to say no as he didn’t have the funds…)
I also like the multiculturalism of this series. Something I’ve found with British books and TV series—they have multiracial actors, and they’re there to play the same roles as caucasians, not just as a cultural speaking point (eg Doctor Who). I also want to give Aaronovitch extra snaps for a spot-on cultural depiction of a gay Filipino and his visiting mum. You can infer so many things from his writing, with no need for cultural stereotypes—it’s just all shown not told.
Grant’s policing skills have improved—with the help of his super awesome faceless partner Lesley—and this shows in the way he conducts investigations and how it’s explained to us, the audience. Aaronovitch has done his research, and it shows and reads like a BBC police series (Hello, Broadchurch…) but with more comedy.
The plot moves a bit more slowly than the previous books, but everything is made clear by the end, including a totally unexpected plot twist. (Okay, I killed a fairy and some things made more sense after that.)
Possibly the only thing I had issue with was while I generally love Grant’s Britishisms, there was a part where he described something to unfold like Terry’s Chocolate Orange, which is a British chocolate. I don’t know what that is, and I could’ve possibly used more of an explanation. (Maybe people who grew up in Australia know what this is?)
Yay or nay?
I really enjoy this series—it is witty, fun and the perfect blend of supernatural, police procedural, humor and, well, the best of being British. That said, you really should start with book 1.
Who might enjoy it: Anglophiles
Who might not enjoy it: People who don’t like police procedurals
An advance reading copy of this book was generously provided by the Hachette Australia.