In the second part of Whispers Under Ground, Peter plods on, while everybody’s dealing with harsh words. Spoiler alert.
So. This week’s reading was a little frustrating, for a couple of reasons. The first is that we don’t really seem to be any closer to a reveal where the plot’s murder mystery is concerned. Peter is still chasing down the source of the murder weapon (yes, it was in fact an earthenware plate), and while I can appreciate the real-life approach to police work (it’s more tedium and persistence than glamour), it doesn’t exactly make for thrilling reading, and I’m very much ready to get on with it now, please and thank you.
The second reason is that, for all that Peter and Lesley are making welcome strides in returning to their firm friendship and bantering ways, and I’m pleased to see it, there still seems to be an annoying fixation upon Lesley as a sexual object. This week’s example:
‘So,’ said Zach. ‘Are you two fucking?’
I glared at him.
‘Does that mean you’re not?’
‘No,’ I said. ‘She’s-‘
‘Sex on legs,’ said Zach and took a moment to sniff his armpit. Apparently satisfied, he squared his shoulders, twanged the elasticated waist on his Y-fronts and said, ‘Good. There’s nothing like an early start.’ He made to follow Lesley but I stopped him with a hand on the chest. ‘What?’ he asked.
‘Don’t even think about it,’ I said.
‘You can’t have it both ways, bruv,’ he said. ‘Make up your mind.’
There’s more, but I’ve broken this quote down a bit because I’m honestly not sure who to be more annoyed with, so I’m sharing the wealth, so to speak. Zach is James Gallagher’s former housemate and most certainly not as charming as he thinks he is. Case in point: the exchange above. ‘Presumptuous’ is putting this as mildly as I possibly can. On the other hand, that last line is a fairly good point. Peter has, as our narrator at least, made no secret of his attraction to Lesley in the past. Now they’re just friends, and good ones, but for some reason (despite her well-asserted independence and flaming obvious resilience and personal strength) Lesley needs a well-meaning male protector?
‘Did you not notice…’ I hesitated, ‘the injuries?’
‘Some of us look beyond the superficial,’ said Zach.
‘Some of us look beyond someone’s tits,’ I said.
‘I know,’ he said. ‘Did you see that bum?’
‘Do you want me to smack you?’
Don’t be selfish, Peter. If anybody’s got a right to smack the guy for his talk, it’s Lesley. I’d have said let him go and see what happens. Because, you know. LESLEY CAN TAKE CARE OF HERSELF. Also, don’t be such a hypocrite. I was reading, you know. I saw you, seeing the way her unsupported breasts move like breasts that are unsupported and also subject to the laws of physics. *Pauses to clean up spilled sarcasm* I SEE YOU, PETER.
By now I would quite dearly like to see Lesley May go full Naomi Nagata on her friend. Of course, that’s presuming Peter realises she’s got a say in who she sleeps with.
Apparently I am not in a mood to tolerate this sort of thing. Who knew?
Thankfully there is more going on! Let’s move on, because we’ve got Nightingale back, which rather puts the brakes on my theory about some trouble befalling him while Peter was busy. Well, mostly. The demon trap was a nice and rather hair-raising dramatic turn, and rather neatly brings the Faceless Man back into play. Sort of. It keeps him relevant, anyway, and also serves to keep me wondering just where this story is actually going. Are the two mysteries going to converge? I don’t really see any link between them at this stage, though that’s mostly because we still don’t know much at all about how or why James Gallagher died. Though between the weirdness of the murder weapon, James’s odd shift in behaviour before his death, and the revelation of Zach’s demi-fae status, obviously I suspect faeries are involved. A deal gone bad could literally be the cause of all this, but what deal? And how did it go wrong?
And how on earth might any of it connect to what’s going on with the Faceless Man?
Then (thankfully before I got too frustrated with the pace this week), there’s this:
Bomb disposal experts talk about the bombmaker’s signature, the telltale flourishes that distinguish one mass murderer from another. But identification is so much easier when they just write their name in crayon. I recognised the Faceless Man’s particular sense of humour. The transcription read in English:
IF YOU CAN READ THESE WORDS THEN YOU ARE NOT ONLY A NERD BUT PROBABLY DEAD.
Peter is obviously being taunted, if this translation from the demon trap is any indication. But to what end? And will the Faceless Man realise that the trap failed thanks to Nightingale, or is this a sign of overconfidence?
What worries me now, the more I think on it, is that we do get some deeper insight from Peter about how policemen work. He raises the point that when it comes to handling violence, some part of every copper has to enjoy wading in to sort it out. If you aren’t prepared for the physicality of the job, you probably aren’t going to make a very good copper. On the other hand, though, this is precisely what often makes people bad coppers. If you’re too quick to wade in, you risk making everything worse. If you’re too quick because you enjoy it, well…
That part got a little too real, maybe. And it makes me worry about Peter, because we haven’t yet seen how far he’ll go in that sense, to shut down a case. And with all the pressure being put on him to shut this particular one down (thanks a lot, Seawoll, you absolute arse), how well will he handle it?
Is that what’s going to raise the dramatic stakes, here? I really, really don’t want to see Peter lose control like that. It really would be too real. But is that where we’re going…?
I suppose we’ll find out, won’t we?