My name is Peter Grant, and I am a keeper of the secret flame — whatever that is.
Truth be told, there’s a lot I still don’t know. My superior Nightingale, previously the last of England’s wizardly governmental force, is trying to teach me proper schooling for a magician’s apprentice. But even he doesn’t have all the answers. Mostly I’m just a constable sworn to enforce the Queen’s Peace, with the occasional help from some unusual friends and a well-placed fire blast. With the new year, I have three main objectives, a) pass the detective exam so I can officially become a DC, b) work out what the hell my relationship with Lesley Mai, an old friend from the force and now fellow apprentice, is supposed to be, and most importantly, c) get through the year without destroying a major landmark.
Two out of three isn’t bad, right?
A mutilated body in Crawley means another murderer is on the loose. The prime suspect is one Robert Weil, who may either be a common serial killer or an associate of the twisted magician known as the Faceless Man — a man whose previous encounters I’ve barely survived. I’ve also got a case about a town planner going under a tube train and another about a stolen grimoire.
But then I get word of something very odd happening in Elephant and Castle, on a housing estate designed by a nutter, built by charlatans, and inhabited by the truly desperate. If there’s a connection to the Crawley case, I’ll be entering some tricky waters of juristiction with the local river spirits. We have a prickly history, to say the least.
Just the typical day for a magician constable.
My opinion: I read the first three books in the series back in 2012 when I was going to London on business almost every week. The books hooked me in with their “reality with a magical twist” feel, the gritty, modern writing and the impeccable geographical accuracy of the settings. When I heard that this fourth installment was coming out, I just knew I had to have it!!
In this book we meet some of our familiar favourites, Peter, Nightingale and Lesley all feature, along with some more magical people. Once again we are on the hunt of the faceless man to try and stop him in his tracks. The majority of the story is based in Elephant and Castle in a block of flats designed by a renowned architect who was very likely also a practitioner. Peter and Lesley get on the case to get to the bottom of why the building is significant and to try and second guess the faceless man to stop whatever he is going to do next.
I was a little disappointed by this book. Although it was fast paced and action packed, it seemed to be missing something compared with the others in the series. It seemed to be all focussed on the one event and place rather than unfurling in the same way as the previous installments and lacked some of the wittyness. Despite this, it was an enjoyable read and I will continue to read more from the series. I just hope the next book feels more like the early books I loved so much.
In spite of my slight negativity, the twist and cliffhanger were total genius and I want to know what happens next!
My rating: Three stars