In the first part of Whispers Under Ground, Peter and Lesley are reunited, and a previous investigation continues even as a new one demands Peter’s attention…
It begins with a dead body at the far end of Baker Street tube station, all that remains of American exchange student James Gallagher—and the victim’s wealthy, politically powerful family is understandably eager to get to the bottom of the gruesome murder. The trouble is, the bottom—if it exists at all—is deeper and more unnatural than anyone suspects . . . except, that is, for London constable and sorcerer’s apprentice Peter Grant. With Inspector Nightingale, the last registered wizard in England, tied up in the hunt for the rogue magician known as “the Faceless Man,” it’s up to Peter to plumb the haunted depths of the oldest, largest, and—as of now—deadliest subway system in the world.
At least he won’t be alone. No, the FBI has sent over a crack agent to help. She’s young, ambitious, beautiful . . . and a born-again Christian apt to view any magic as the work of the devil. Oh yeah—that’s going to go well.
OK, so right away we seem to be getting a slightly different structure, in that the book is following a particular timeline. So there are only a certain number of days over which this story unfolds and is resolved? This is interesting because of the pacing implications – will it be over quickly? Or is this adherence to a timeline indicative of a much bigger crime and what may have led to it?
I wonder about that, because while Peter is taking on a murder investigation with Stephanopoulous and the Murder Investigation Team, Nightingale is elsewhere trying to track down information on their mysterious Faceless Man, who’s still at large after what happened in Moon Over Soho. Will these two investigations dovetail at some point, or is Nightingale going to be on his own when something bad happens? That sudden snowstorm might indicate that this is very possible…
It’s pure speculation at this point, but OH GOD DO NOT LET SOMETHING BAD HAPPEN TO NIGHTINGALE. (Again.)
Lesley is back! It is so good to see her staying relevant to the larger arc of the story here, and to see her learning BY HERSELF how to use magic, even if it’s only the most basic of spells (the werelight), gives me joy. Especially knowing that Nightingale has believed for so long that the number of wizards out there was dwindling and that magic is incredibly difficult to learn – what must he make of the fact that Lesley has both the ability and the determination to teach herself magic?
I was really worried that Lesley’s experiences in Rivers of London would effectively sideline her, or that she’d be left with no part to play other than Peter’s Friend With All The Problems. She undoubtedly must still have issues, but it is wonderful to see her fighting to get back to who she was, and drive her life forward, in spite of what’s happened to her. I do also worry slightly that her breakthrough into using magic might be driven by some kind of self-protective obsession, and that this might become dangerous, but for now I’m absolutely happy to have her back. YAY LESLEY.
And then there’s the latest weird murder. The student, in the Underground, with … the pottery? James Gallagher got stabbed with … what, a broken plate? Who (or what) kills like that?
I feel like there are, or should be, some clues here that point to something folkloric/fairytale-like, because I know that this is urban fantasy and such an explanation would make perfect sense here, but nothing about the facts we’ve got so far are ringing any bells for me. There’s usually at least one bell, so this is both intriguing and kind of bugging me! (I just like to know things, OK?)
So I am clueless and rather enjoying it, so far! WHAT IS GOING ON.