Moon over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch

Moon over Soho by Ben AaronovitchThe big question when you find a brand new author that wows you is often whether the sequel will flop. This is because writers may spend 10 years on the first book when contract obligations require them to finish the second in less than a year. I’m happy to report Aaronovitch’s interesting narrative voice and glimpse into the London scene that drew me in Midnight Riot are still present in Moon over Soho. Even more, instead of a straight sequel with the focus on Peter Grant’s magical education or the long-term consequences of the events in Midnight Riot, this book rightly assumes the reader has got all that now. We return to what has now become Peter’s normal life. He still tries to find the underlying logic for magic, and his training is mentioned here or there, but Peter is on to the next case.

After a visit to his friend, Leslie, who is still suffering the consequences of book one, a call from his contact in the medical examiners’ office, Dr. Walid, sets him on the trail of a new mystery to solve with his fledgling magic and his unlimited curiosity. This one hits close to home, considering his father’s love of music, as it calls into question the cause of jazz musicians’ short lifespan.

Moon over Soho takes you into the London jazz scene and Peter’s personal life because his father is a once famous trumpet player whose career had been cut short but which may be revived with a turn to the piano. Peter meets a bunch of older jazz musicians and comes to a better appreciation of his father’s second love, the first being his mother.

This is a mystery and so I can’t say much without giving things away, but I’ll tell you this: The ultimate answer is well seeded and can be picked up before the big reveal by the careful reader. At the same time, there are other elements introduced that offer potential answers so the solution to this mystery is neither simple nor too obvious.

As far as the series is concerned, while the first book brought us into the world of magic twined through London, this one stands mostly on its own while introducing elements that could become an ongoing conflict, or may just be the mystery to solve in the next one. I’ll say no more to avoid accidentally laying out a clue the book would have hidden better, but it is enough to say I’m happy to see threads in the story that are not tidily resolved because it means another book to enjoy in the future.

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