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Foxglove Summer - Ben Aaronovitch

The next in the Rivers of London series, which I am devouring as they come out, and not surprisingly. They keep on being good and revealing new and exciting things! Aaronovitch decides to take his sleuth out of London and explore some new and hitherto unrevealed contours of his magical world, leaving some of the issues raised in the previous book tantalisingly unresolved, but in a way that means the chronology is realistic and doesn't make the reader go 'surely something would have happened by now?'. It was a very good read, and I do hope that Aaronovitch can keep this up, because it will be sad if he can't.

The Severed Streets - Paul Cornell

Despite being technically the same genre as Foxglove Summer, that of the alt-London police detective whodunit novel, this book, second in the series, is a much darker and grittier prospect. There's less... oh, how do I put this. It's like Poirot or Sayers versus something unpleasant with gory bits by, I dunno, somebody who will happily describe the layout of the intestines on the murder victim to you. Which is fine - the alt-London supernatural whodunit is wide enough to support both types of writing, and in a way they're both appealing to slightly different audience - I'm not sure I'd be working with the Cornell series if it wasn't for the fact that I'm currently into the whole mythical alt!London routine and there's some classical content in there. (This should be evident by the fact I can't think of a reasonable author to typify the gorier sort of police procedural novel.) It's still compelling reading, but the characters suffer much more - there's much more darkness, more personal sacrifice required to get access to the information they need to understand the Other World, more - well, more nastiness in general, I think. This particular novel takes Jack the Ripper as a focal point, along with inspiration from the recent London riots, and does a good job of creating an alt!London take on those issues as the team get deeper and deeper into the other world that they have access to without really quite understanding.

Dear Michael - Natalia Ginzburg

After reading non-fiction-ish by Ginzburg by accident, I thought I'd read a proper novel. This takes an epistolary format, with a small amount of narration to frame the piece. The letters are exchanged between members of a family whose pivotal point is, in some ways, the difficult brother Michael. The parents divorced years ago, and the father is very ill at the start of the novel; Michael is living in a small basement flat belonging to a friend; his two older sisters are married, and his two younger twin sisters live at home. Various events spin this little universe around - the father's death and subsequent issues about his inheritance; Michael's sudden departure to England; the appearance of a young woman who sort-of-claims her new baby is Michael's but is so fuzzy around the edges (as she herself admits) that her value as a truth-teller is, shall we say, a bit slender. There's a poignancy to the long, rambling letters that Michael's mother send to him but that never get answered - and whole swathes of stories which go untold, hinted at in small actions and activities, but ultimately hidden from the reader's view. Stark and ultimately rather sad, but rather wonderful sparse and evocative writing.
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