What Next for Peter Grant? An Exclusive Letter from Ben Aaronovitch
As his hapless hero Detective Constable Peter Grant embarks upon his sixth graphic novel outing, Water Weed, bestselling author Ben Aaronovitch takes a look back at the world of Rivers of London so far and lets slip some Folly secrets about what is still to come...
I am going to assume that you have some familiarity with the unfolding adventures of one Detective Constable Peter Grant - if not, the author’s photograph provided by my publicity people would almost inevitably have scared you away before reading these words.
However, just in case some brave soul has got this far without knowing about Peter Grant, allow me to add that although he is police - as Peter would put it - he is rather unusual police. It is his sworn duty to uphold the Queen’s peace not only in the face of all the mundane crime that London can throw at him, but also all the supernatural crime…
In this he has the help of Detective Inspector Thomas Nightingale, a man who is looking considerably - indeed, suspiciously - spry considering he was born in 1900. On the squad there is also DC Sahra Guleed, who wears a hijab with more stylish flair than anyone else on a Murder Team, and who is still coming to terms with the fact that magic is real - and far from always benign.
Plus let’s not forget Molly (no last name, at least none I’m going to tell you), London’s most retro - and scariest - traditional house maid. She looks after the Folly, our heroes’ home base in darkest Bloomsbury. Oh, and I’d better mention Toby, a dog of no discernible pedigree who has the occasional ability to sniff out demonic doings, though his real strengths are cadging food and snoozing. And then there’s the Rivers themselves - powerful and unpredictable deities of place associated with London’s waterways and, in the case of Beverley Brook, Peter’s main squeeze.
This gang of characters has kept me employed, amused, and solvent through seven novels and a novella. Only a stupefyingly dull pedant would pause at this point to list all the titles, so here we go: Rivers of London, Moon Over Soho, Whispers Under Ground, Broken Homes, Foxglove Summer, The Hanging Tree, Lies Sleeping and Furthest Station - that aforementioned cheeky little novella.
Now, normally it would be traditional at this point in the publishing cycle for me to be writing this letter purely to apologise to readers for the harrowingly late arrival of the next volume. However, as regular fans know, I am no traditionalist, and as a matter of fact the latest Rivers of London adventure, another novella, hits the bookshelves in June, if anything a little early. It is entitled The October Man and deals with the German equivalent of the Folly and features an engaging young detective called Tobias Winter.
If that wasn’t enough, there is the ongoing series of Rivers of London graphic novels. Only a stunningly tedious hair-splitter would insist on listing the titles so far - to wit Body Work, Night Witch, Black Mould, Detective Stories and Cry Fox. These feature all the usual lovable characters from the prose stories, and are an official part of the expanding Rivers of London fictional universe. But rather than being told purely in words, they are also beautifully illustrated by a gentleman called Lee Sullivan. The latest volume is just out now, entitled Water Weed, and it’s a cracker though I say so myself. If you’ve never ventured into the world of graphic novels before, allow me to encourage you to take the plunge. Come on in, the water’s fine. Try Water Weed. (And in case you’re worried your literary friends will look down their noses at you, you can always hide it inside the latest issue of the London Review of Books – which probably contains an article about how on-trend graphic novels are these days.)
Perhaps at this point I should mention Andrew Cartmel, who co-writes the graphic novels with me and who has been a presence in my career ever since he commissioned me to write for Doctor Who (back in the days when Doctor Who was even more unfashionable than comic books). Andrew provided feedback and encouragement from the earliest days of Peter Grant – I remember reading the first words of the first novel to him over the phone. As he never lets me forget, he’s the one who came up with the title Rivers of London (the working title, believe it or not, was Magic Cops) and he’s a talented novelist in his own right. Any fair person would both acknowledge his contributions to the Rivers saga and praise his solo writing. But I say, if he wants publicity let him create his own successful series of novels… Oh, wait a minute, he has. They’re the Vinyl Detective mysteries and I recommend them highly. Also London-based they’re witty, suspenseful and feature murder, music and… cats. Don’t tell Toby.
Coming shortly from Andrew and me is another graphic novel, Action at a Distance, detailing the adventures of Inspector Nightingale in the 1950s. And from yours truly there is another full length novel on the way, entitled False Value. Which reminds me…
I’d better get back to writing it.
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