Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch

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Back again to the world of Peter Grant! Before I get into my issues with the book I will say upfront that I really liked this story overall and I was glad I read it. I feel like it is a good continuation of the story and had some interesting story beats.

The basic story is thus:

A mutilated body is found and who better to investigate than our resident magician constable Peter Grant and the rest in The Folly, which this time includes Lesley. They (of course) suspect The Faceless Man is behind it and are quite reasonably apprehensive about running into him again after barely surviving their last encounter. Their main suspect is a man named Robert Weil and so they go about – carefully – investigating him.

They also have a case about a town planner going under a tube train and another about a stolen grimoire.

And then there is the rumors about something very odd happening on a housing estate designed by a nutter, built by charlatans, and inhabited by the truly desperate.

AND THEN there is the usual dealings with various water spirits and Zack, the half-human/Half-something from Whispers Under Ground , the last book.

Are you starting to see what some of my problems might be?

The characters themselves are as well written as the last few books. Nightingale is his usual uptight, snobbish self (and a bit of a bad ass); Lesley is about the same, she still has her face masks on. In this one she even  gets some love from Zack of all people; And Peter is still his snarky, joking self.

Nightingale just seems like your average nice boss/grandpa, who might be a little set in his ways and stodgy. He likes things that are old fashioned and proceeds with caution in all things. He is also smart and realistic, using his brain above all else to solve the mysteries. He can also hold his own (and more) in magical fights. He has a few faults that are just now coming back to bite him. One is the fact that he assumed that magic was dying out in the world and so he never looked very hard to find any. That has resulted in a major influx of “dark” magicians who are maiming and killing people all over London.

Peter is probably my favorite character, which is good because he is the main character. I like that he is always quick with a joke or wry observation in the face of some pretty stressful and terrifying stuff. I like that he has serious questions about magic and where all of this power comes from. He is intensely loyal and values his friends and allies. Even the ones who frighten him a bit, like the water spirits, he treats with care and attention. He values being fair no matter what and always looks for a compromise. He goes though a bit of a roller coaster in this book and I’m curious how the events of this book will affect him going forward.

Speaking of events…..Lesley. *sigh* I was spoiled about what was coming by a clueless friend, and while I am interested to see where it goes, it didn’t really work for me. Spoiled from here:  

So, she betrayed our heroes to join up with The Faceless Man and his crew. I don’t know, It just seems very bland to me. Also, kind of out of left field. The reasoning in the book is that she has been promised a new face, or at least to have her face repaired by The Faceless Man. I mean I get it, she got horribly scarred and mutilated by magic so anyone who offers to fix it up good as new will be seriously considered. I just have never read her as being so concerned about it. That seems really weird to say since she obviously hates it and anyone would want a fix. It just seems unearned and rings false to me for some reason. Also, she seemed to be *way* more intolerant towards the magical community in this book than in previous novels. Maybe The Faceless Man’s influence?  Despite my misgivings, I am interested to see how her story plays out.

As I alluded to at the start, my major issue with this book is just the sheer number of plot threads. The plot just seemed to jump from plotline to plotline at random and I didn’t feel they were all brought together well enough at the end. It was just suddenly the end of the book and “Whoops, we have to throw everything together and end it!” or at least that is what it felt like to me. This book felt really disjointed compared to the last three. That was my major problem.

Overall, I liked the book and yet had a few reservations about it. The characters were well characterized but the plot meandered and skipped around on too many lines for me to really enjoy it. I still look forward to starting the fifth book to see how things go!

B is for Burglar by Sue Grafton

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This is an older review I wrote ages ago copied and pasted from my Goodreads account (with some minor rewriting). Posted now to make up for the fact that I am just in a reading slump! I am close to finishing several new books, but my desire to read is low. I blame the awesome weather we are having right now that is keeping me outside and with friends more. The writing here is not my best but hopefully you can overlook that fact! 🙂

I keep hoping that these books get better. I may just have to give up on them. This book wasn’t so much bad as it was pointless and boring, at least to me. I didn’t care about anyone in this book…at all. No one grabbed my attention, and the mystery was just so-so which is unforgivable in my eyes.

Kinsey (the main character) is really weird to me. I feel like we are supposed to think she is this cool,quirky, bad ass but she comes across to me pretty much the opposite. She is unnecessarily rude to people, she seems weirdly oblivious at times, and she weirdly sexualizes everyone she meets…Well, at least the men. And I mean everyone. Last book it was a bunch of guys including a 12-year-old deaf kid and in this book it includes a 16 (or 17?) year-old punk, and her geriatric landlord. It is just really off-putting. I’ll admit this may just be me, but i don’t think so.

Also bad, I guessed what was going on pretty early in the book (AGAIN). Now, if the rest of the plot is well written and engaging it doesn’t matter, but if it is slow and boring it is like pulling teeth to get through.

Seriously, I don’t know what I am missing with these books. So many people have recommended them to me and I just don’t see, so far, what all the hype is about. I don’t really like the main character all that much and the mysteries have been super un-engaging and boring with a predictable villain.

As I said in the last review, I know that these books start out written in the 80s before cell phones and other tech advances, but i don’t mind that in the book. It actually makes me smile a bit.

I am going on the the third book in the hopes that as Sue Grafton goes along she gets better. I certainly hope so.

A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton

AisforAlibi

This is an older review I wrote ages ago copied and pasted from my Goodreads account. Posted now to make up for the fact that I am just in a reading slump! I am close to finishing several new books, but my desire to read is low. I blame the awesome weather we are having right now that is keeping me outside and with friends more. The writing here is not my best but hopefully you can overlook that fact! 🙂

I probably would have actually given this book a 2 1/2 stars if it was possible, but I can’t. While I enjoyed it overall, I felt like there was something missing.

I picked up these books because around 5 friends have been pushing hard for me to read this series. I thought the mystery was a good one. I was interested all the way until the end. I was slightly disappointed that I figured out whodunit pretty early on. That is part of why i wanted to give it 2 1/2 stars, I never felt the sort of suspense I’m used to when reading mysteries. To be a really great mystery in my eyes, I want to be kept guessing about the killer. The fact that I figured out who was responsible pretty early on really dampened my enthusiasm for the book.

For those who are unaware, this book was originally published in the 80s. So, no cell phones, no (widespread) internet, no Google. It is pretty interesting in a historical kind of way to see how the main character solves the crimes in an “old-Fashioned” kind of way. Several times while reading I even thought to myself, “why doesn’t she just Google it?” Which I suppose goes to show how much we rely on technology these days!

I found Kinsey really lacking as a protagonist. She was really unlikable to me, but I can’t really place why. Her internal monologues can get really annoying, and I was super disappointed in some of her choices in the novel. I felt that she should have known better about some of the things she did, and should have definitely seen the end coming. I actually got pretty frustrated with her as a character many times. Sorry to be vague but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone else.

Although I liked the book, it felt really flat while reading it. Nothing really got me excited or pulled me into the book. I would still recommend the book to people who like mysteries, and I hope that this was a case of it being the first book. Hopefully they start to get more interesting!