Monday, 25 January 2016

Book review: London Falling

Paul Cornell is another Doctor Who writer to launch a book series about a section of the Metropolitan Police dealing with the supernatural; presumably Ben Aaronovitch hasn't taken it as encroaching on his territory since he provides the cover quote. And London Falling suggests a different enough approach that it can happily enough coexist with the Rivers of London series - there's a bit of a darker, nastier edge to this book that's closer to the Mike Carey Felix Castor books that I still miss.

Here the team is a four-strong one that comes together largely by accident when a long-running undercover operation comes to an abrupt end, the crime boss they've spent years trying to take down dying suddenly in a supernatural (and very grisly) way. While investigating the death the head of the operation, two undercover officers and an intelligence analyst end up acquiring, for reasons they still haven't found out by the end of the first book, psychic powers that allow them to see into the supernatural underside of London.

It took me a while to get used to the way Cornell jumps between his four leads as point-of-view characters every couple of pages, but the story (featuring a curse on anyone who scores too many goals against West Ham) builds well, and kept me keen to go back to it. But it's probably the fact that Cornell manages at least two HUGE moments of pulling the rug out from under the reader that'll ensure me checking out the rest of the series.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Book review: Snow Blind

I really should try to remember, when I'm browsing books at various times of the year, that I like to have a ghost story (or collection of them) to read over Christmas. As it happens this year I already had one waiting on my Kindle so Christopher Golden's Snow Blind it was. The novel proved just right for the job, not exactly a traditional ghost story but with just about the right balance of darkness and hope.

It's set in a New England town that's used to snowstorms every winter but two, twelve years apart, prove particularly deadly. The first few chapters take place during the first storm, which claims a couple of dozen lives. Most of the book takes place twelve years later though, when the approaching second storm also brings with it some of the people who died in the first. There's a traditional ghost but most of them possess the body of someone living, with a warning that the storm contains an evil supernatural force, the real reason for the high casualty rate.

I thought the book nicely set up the various groups of characters, each of whom loses someone in the first storm only to have them come back in the second, with not all the returnees necessarily being welcome visitors. So there's plenty of people to feel invested in as they try to stay safe from the ice creatures, and maybe even save their loved ones' ghosts from their limbo state.

Monday, 4 January 2016


The year is 5343 but Christmas street decorations are still those big bulbs made up of lots of little white lights, that turn up in high streets looking slightly tattier every year. Also, there's Christmas tree bulbs instead of planets in the opening credits NOW LET US NEVER SPEAK OF THIS AGAIN.

"The Husbands of River Song" by Steven Moffat, directed by Douglas Mackinnon.Spoilers after the cut.