London Falling

London Falling by Paul Cornell, London Falling #1

The dark is rising . . . Detective Inspector James Quill is about to complete the drugs bust of his career. Then his prize suspect Rob Toshack is murdered in custody. Furious, Quill pursues the investigation, co-opting intelligence analyst Lisa Ross and undercover cops Costain and Sefton. 

But nothing about Toshack’s murder is normal. Toshack had struck a bargain with a vindictive entity, whose occult powers kept Toshack one step ahead of the law – until his luck ran out. Now, the team must find a 'suspect' who can bend space and time and alter memory itself. And they will kill again. As the group starts to see London’s sinister magic for themselves, they have two choices: panic or use their new abilities. 

Then they must hunt a terrifying supernatural force the only way they know how: using police methods, equipment and tactics. But they must all learn the rules of this new game - and quickly. More than their lives will depend on it.

London Falling is the first book in the London Falling series written by Paul Cornell set in an urban fantasy inspired London. Paul Cornell is well known for his contributions to numerous Doctor Who episodes and various other TV shows such as Primeval and Robin Hood. Besides his work in the TV industry, Paul Cornell has also written several books in the Doctor Who world. Like I mention in a lot of urban fantasy reviews, this genre is just pretty awesome to read about, it is highly versatile and every author seems to interpret it in their own way. I heard a lot of positive new about London Falling, and I have to be honest I was expecting a bit of different story, what I have come to read in the past months have been on some parts dark murder investigative stories but they do have a somewhat humorous side to it. London Falling is dark and gritty and with the whole backdrop of organized and such just gets a lot sinister and darker. 

The story start off with a heavy emphasis on how the police operates on a daily basis and the world feels just as we are living in it. The London police is about to apprehend an important drug lord after five years of hard work, but it is still a precarious case. In these introducing chapters you are already introduced to the four main characters of London Falling, they are all police officers: Quill, Costain, Ross and Sefton, they all had a hand in trying to bring the drug lord Rob Toshack to judgement. With letting the introduction focus on the normal police procedures, Paul Cornell gently steers the reader away from the proposed supernatural element that is mentioned in the synopsis, if you just read the first chapter you wouldn't have guessed what would happen AFTER Rob Toshack is captured. And to be honest even with the mentioning of the supernatural you still won't have a clue as what will happen. Because that scene in the interrogation room, brings you on one part to the edge of your seat and on the other slams you awake like a door in the face. It's cool, it's brutal, gory and bloody. Paul Cornell presents this scene on a silver platter and really sets the mood for the remainder of the story. It's also by this scene that the supernatural hidden within the story comes to firstly show it's face.

But with this first introduction of the supernatural the whole scene is far from over. It marks just the beginning of all that is possible in this version of London, as the four police investigator now find out that they themselves have more power than they had thought. The four gain the Sight which allows them to see what really hides among the masses of people in London, seeing witches on street corners and the like. This was a very good addition to the storyline as you have on one side the supernatural threat on the rise, one of which our investigators can make heads nor tails from and on the other hand they themselves are changing and not understanding the how, why and if’s of it. This combined added another sense to the story that of discovery. Not only who and more importantly what is behind the threat but also figuring out what they have become for themselves. This whole transition regarding the characters themselves wasn’t done in the spur of the moment but there is a nice way of how they embrace what they have become. For me what made this part was that they were still sticking to their drilled in police routines, and that they bit by bit started to think outside the box.

All four different characters: Quill, Costain, Ross and Sefton has their own roles within the department and in the story itself and Paul Cornell wrote them all with different characteristics. I have to say that some characters were just more memorable than others, especially Quill and Ross stood out for me. Detective Inspector James Quill put enough pressure behind the story to keep pushing the investigation forward. Lisa Ross was a character that took a bit getting used to but once you got the full background of her character it proved to be very elegant in a certain way, her role as an intelligence analyst added a lot of brains into the mix besides the grunting field police man. The was that her background was handled was for me one of the better and this might be because she is the only female lead in the story, that made her stood out, Quill, Costain and Sefton are all male leads. Overall the character fitted nicely into the story and there was enough elaboration about their roles and positions in everything, they just could have been given a bit more dressing up to really make them stand out amongst each other. This is just a minor remark though. Another bit that took getting used was the quick switching of the points-of-view between the characters, it felt that once you got into one characters adventures it was over to soon and you were transported to another one, this took some getting used to. But on the whole London Falling is written in a solid stroke, despite the above mentioned remarks Paul Cornell really knows what to include to create an interesting story and moreover an solid entry within the urban fantasy genre.

London Falling is an thrilling supernatural investigation that offers a new interpretation of urban fantasy and murder investigation. If you think you have read all that urban fantasy has to offer, think again. This book really focuses on the darkest corners of London and Paul Cornell doesn’t spare you one moment to introduce the horror and thriller aspects into his story creating a quite scary and creepy story. What is still lingering in the back of my mind is the scene in which you were first introduced to the murder that can bend time and space, this creeped me out and all throughout London Falling I was on the edge of my seat, with these kind of enemies you just never known when and where it will strike again. Besides this threat, the characters and the world were also just as terrific to read about, though the characters could have used a little polish. I liked how they were introduced to this threat and how they themselves grew into their new roles and powers. All in all the characters did work in the backdrop of the story and considering this is just the first volume of the series they are somewhat established and I will be looking forward to see how they will manage in the sequel to come. The Severed Streets will be out in the summer of 2014.

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