The October Man: A good introduction to RIVERS OF LONDON

The October Man by Ben Aaronovitch science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsThe October Man by Ben Aaronovitch science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsThe October Man by Ben Aaronovitch

My friends here at FanLit love Ben Aaronovitch’s RIVERS OF LONDON / PETER GRANT series. I haven’t read any of the novels yet, so when The October Man (2019), a related stand-alone novella, was recently released, I thought it might be the perfect place to jump in.

I was right. Though familiarity with the novels might have made things a little easier, I found The October Man to be both perfectly understandable and enjoyable.

The story stars Tobias Winter, a secondary character from the RIVERS OF LONDON / PETER GRANT series (as I understand it). Tobias, an investigator, is called to the quaint town of Trier in one of Germany’s famous wine regions. He is there to investigate a murder that looks rather unnatural — the victim was covered in fungus.

The October Man by Ben Aaronovitch science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsThis turns out to be the noble rot, the fungus responsible for the sweetness of German riesling wines. The goddess of the Mosel river is also involved in the murder mystery.

There are a lot of things I liked about The October Man, which I sampled in both print (Subterranean Press) and audio (Tantor Audio) formats. First, I love the setting and can’t think of any other fantasy novels I’ve read that are set along the Mosel river. I spent a wonderful week in that region last year, so was familiar with some of the cities and landmarks in the story. Aaronovitch gives us some history and instructions about wine making, so I learned something, too.

As far as the story goes, it’s entertaining with colorful characters and a witty sense of humor that amused me. It definitely made me want to pick up Midnight Riot, the first PETER GRANT novel, sometime soon.

The audiobook is narrated by Sam Peter Jackson. He was so well-cast for this story. I loved his performance.

Published in May 2019. With this long new novella, bestselling author Ben Aaronovitch has crafted yet another wickedly funny and surprisingly affecting chapter in his beloved Rivers of London series. If you thought magic was confined to one country—think again. Trier: famous for wine, Romans and being Germany’s oldest city. When a man is found dead with his body impossibly covered in a fungal rot, the local authorities know they are out of their depth. But fortunately this is Germany, where there are procedures for everything. Enter Tobias Winter, an investigator for the Abteilung KDA, the branch of the German Federal Criminal Police which handles the supernatural. His aim is to get in, deal with the problem, and get out with the minimum of fuss, personal danger and paperwork. Together with frighteningly enthusiastic local cop, Vanessa Sommer, he quickly links the first victim to a group of ordinary middle aged men whose novel approach to their mid-life crisis may have reawakened a bloody conflict from a previous century. As the rot spreads, literally, and the suspect list extends to people born before Frederick the Great, Tobias and Vanessa will need to find allies in some unexpected places. And to solve the case they’ll have to unearth the secret magical history of a city that goes back two thousand years. Presuming that history doesn’t kill them first..

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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