In the fourth and final part of Whispers Under Ground, Peter gets results! And also an unexpected message…
So the final part of this book finally does get on with solving the mystery of the day, and it leads to some places, people and series mythology I had not expected. This pleases me! I’m also really relieved by the revelation that the Quiet People are NOT cannibalistic murderers just because they live underground. Instead, we’ve got quietly (literally!) industrious families making a reasonable, respectable living … Except that most of the rest of London has no idea they exist.
I was charmed by the insight into the way their living works, with all the steampunk machinery and odd meeting rituals; down in the constant darkness, it makes perfect sense that senses like touch, rather than sight, would be regarded as more important. And let’s face it, steampunk elements generally do please me – especially if they’re a logical inclusion. If these people were using electricity, the city’s government would probably have found them out by now, after all.
So, naturally the blame for James Gallagher’s murder doesn’t fall on them, but on somebody from the world upstairs, where things other than making a living, staying together and keeping your head down (heh) matter…
But where the rest of this book’s plot, such as it is, stumbles a bit is in the way it feels kind of disconnected, to me. It’s interesting enough in and of itself, but by and large it doesn’t really fold this book into the main series plot arc – at least, not until the very end. If I were feeling cynical about it I’d say it reads like somebody reminded the writer to tie it all together, and the last chapter or so is there to do that.
To be fair, however, there are hints dropped along the way at a connection; it’s just that minor hints are all they are until the end of the book arrives. The murder mystery is the thing here, for the most part, and that’s fine. I think my real issue with all of it is also my issue with the series in general so far, though; it’s not that the plots aren’t interesting, it’s that I still haven’t fallen entirely for Peter as a protagonist, compared to how fond I am of the others. Nightingale, Lesley, Molly, even Stephanopoulos – they all engage me far more easily, somehow.
Though Seawoll can f*ck off forever as far as I’m concerned.
Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t help feeling that if your protagonist isn’t coming across as being as likeable as secondary characters, then maybe a book is doing something wrong…?
On a more positive note though, the book’s ending does give us more Abigail to play with, and the idea of getting yet more Abigail to play with does please me. (Nightingale is not in for an easy time of it, is he?)
So this review’s going to be short, because I don’t have much more to say than this. I’m still invested, because I do want to find out what the heck is going on. As urban fantasy mythologies go, I really like this one. It’s the people rather than the places that I find problematic, although – despite the misgivings I’ve written about before – I do still feel like ‘problematic’ is a strong word to use…
Maybe this feeling will resolve itself, and maybe it won’t. But there’s only one way to find out, isn’t there?