Series: Peter Grant #4
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Published by Gollancz on 25 July 2013
In Broken Homes we have a series of deaths that seem like isolated cases, except PC Peter Grant recognises the signature vestigia of the warped magician, the Faceless Man. All clues lead to a mysterious housing estate so Peter, Lesley and Toby head off to investigate.
Peter is a complex character who needs to understand the scientific principles behind magic. He’s still conducting experiments and still struggling to master magic. I appreciate this touch of realism as many other novels have their protagonists having extraordinary skills. People fascinate Peter and he builds a rapport with all manner of folk. Peter’s relationship with Lesley develops albeit in a direction you probably wouldn’t expect. Lesley still feels the loss of her face keenly and is very sensitive to people’s questioning looks. Lots of secondary characters from the other novels show up briefly and then disappear again. I don’t mind Peter ‘doing the rounds’ as it were but some of them like his parents didn’t add to the plot as a whole.
In Peter Grant books there are always a multitude of different threads inextricably linked even if at first you can’t see the connection. It took Aaronovitch longer than usual to give us the information that will help us connect the dots. Peter meanders along, much like his beloved Rivers and taking time out of his investigation to tell us about his food, his scientific experiments and failed attempts at dating. It adds to the richness of the tale to be sure but there is no sense of urgency even though we have bodies popping up all over the place and odd happenings on a housing estate. The last section of the book however switches from a police procedural focused on hunting down clues to a series of action-packed showdowns. The last bit is quite simply superb and more than makes up for the earlier lack of focus.
I came away from this novel knowing two basic things 1) Aaronvitch’s world is so layered and unique I will probably need to read the book a few times to pick up on everything and 2) I will invariably want to know even more. Aaronovitch is a bit mean when it comes to the good stuff like Ettersberg as he teases you with little hints and vague insinuations. If you haven’t read any of this series, please start with the beginning or you will quickly get disorientated.