Review: Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch

Ben Aaronovitch Lies Sleeping

I have a confession to make; I’m hooked on Ben Aaronovitch’s crime-fighting, fantasy series. What’s more, I have a sneaking suspicion that the Peter Grant stories may be based on truth. Somewhere out there, a group of wizards runs around London, solving supernatural crime for the Metropolitan Police Force….

Lies Sleeping is the eighth book to follow Peter Grant’s adventures. Our protagonist is a perpetually curious young copper who became a trainee wizard to avoid a paperwork-filled career with the case progression unit.

The novels are fun – and sometimes rambling – with a wide cast of supporting characters. They feature Peter’s reverse-aging boss (the incredibly powerful Inspector Nightingale) and newly-promoted Detective Sergeant Guleed, who’s developing her own magical abilities. London itself takes centre-stage as the team run around various parts of the city, fighting evil and inadvertently causing mayhem.

Lies Sleeping is the culmination of a long running plot; the magical arm of the Met finally faces its nemesis. The ‘Faceless Man’, is an ethically challenged practitioner (ECP for short), who uses his powers to commit magical crimes against humanity. Assisted by Lesley May, Peter’s friend-turned-enemy, this evil magician tries to locate the ancient and dangerous spirit of Mr Punch. 

Fantasy Fans Rejoice!

There’s something to be said for ‘high’ fantasy, that’s set in its own, isolated bubble but, if that’s what floats your boat, you may want to give the Peter Grant series a miss. As always, Ben Aaronovitch keeps the in-jokes coming thick and fast. Tolkien, Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett are just a few of the authors mentioned in passing. But don’t worry, these are throw-away lines and this book can be enjoyed without knowledge of other fantasy worlds.

Scattered between the laughs are ‘real world’ topics. Ben Aaronovitch has a talent for working serious issues into an action-packed plot. Work-related stress and modern-day slavery are both covered in Lies Sleeping. Peter is a likeable everyman character, who raises concerns surrounding ethical policing while also learning to cast spells by waving his fingers. 

Though Lies Sleeping is a good, solid addition to this series, it seems rushed at times. Ben Aaronovitch hurries to tie up eight novels’-worth of dangling plot lines and manages to cram plenty into four hundred or so pages.

Thankfully, we also get to see more of long-running characters and the development of their personal arcs – Peter’s magical-prodigy cousin, Abigail, makes an appearance, as does his goddess-girlfriend, Beverly. If you’re able to buy your copy from Waterstones, the UK bookshop, you’ll also receive exclusive content. Mine came with ‘Favourite Uncle’, a short Abigail-centric story.

Verdict: This series is crying out to be made into a television show (if you’re listening Netflix, take note!). Lies Sleeping brings a major story arc to a natural close. I’m hoping that this stopping point doesn’t indicate the end of Peter Grant’s adventures.   

If you’re new to Ben Aaronovitch’s books (and I can’t stress this enough) don’t start with Lies Sleeping. It builds on events from previous stories and you’ll be scratching your head by page ten. Instead, grab a copy of Rivers of London, the first book in the series.

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