False Value by Ben Aaronovitch. Well, yes. It was.

Read June 2020
Recommended for tolerant fans
 ★     ★    1/2

Delivered as advertised.

Oh yes; you heard right. The founder of Goodreads’ Folly Irregulars and long-time fan of Peter Grant (the novels), has found a Peter Grant book to be over-rated and boring. I daresay even badly written. Hopefully, a second listen-through can redeem it, but there is no way that should be a thing for an urban fantasy.

Narrative is from Peter, but this feels like an older, even more serious Peter. There’s a few humorous observations along the way, and some waxing emotional over Bev, but for the most part, I found the tone straight-forward and serious. I’m looking to Kobna’s reading to redeem this for me, as my preferred form for this series has been listening. It makes since; Aaronovitch tends to be light on descriptives, so a good actor can bring the character to life.

Still, most of the humor that I associate with the series seems to come from the tech-mogul’s conceit of naming his corporation and referencing all the roles within from Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I will be first to say I love Hitchhiker’s in many forms (excepting the movie, really), but even I found this overkill. I can’t imagine what people who actively or indifferently responded will think. There were three or four lines that really stood out; otherwise I’d say it felt rather humorless, and much more like October Man, the recent novella with Tobias of the German police.

Bev felt like a baby-making adjunct this time. I did appreciate the explanation Peter gives at one point about how ‘magic’ might force he and Bev’s relationship into different places, but I think that one’s out of the barn, so to speak. I also felt like there was a lot of ret-conning about Bev’s Russian thug who is now her one (and only–parenthetical always added) acolyte. I think it pulls the teeth of the genus locii to say they don’t act with self-indulgence. I get it: it’s the eighth book in a series, but I’m seriously getting the feel that it’s getting out of Aaronovitch’s hands. I suggest he have more beta-readers who might read for series continuity. I did like the comment from his dad that the only time he doesn’t think about playing is when he’s playing.

What really killed it for me was the storyline, which was unnecessarily convoluted through a chopped-up timeline. When an author jumps back and forth in time, they risk losing both coherency and tension, and both end up suffering here. In a feeble effort to regain suspense, Aaronovitch frequently had Peter saying things like, “I was looking forward to enjoying my night at home with Bev. I should know better than to say things like that.” Once we reach page 200 or so (give or take; I can’t be bothered to review for accuracy), the timeline settles down and the story becomes more linear. But by then, I’m not sure it helps. It’s sort of a spy vs. spy vs. spy vs. McGuffin objective, and I just wasn’t sold anymore on the urgency.

Oh, and that ending! I’m of two minds. For how slow the build was, it’s a quick flash-bang. I won’t say any more for risk of spoilers, but I found myself annoyed and impressed in equal measures.

There’s a good chance this review–and my mind–will change with a re-listen, because that’s the kind of thing that can happen with this series, but this has a good chance for standing with Foxglove Summer as book I’m least likely to ever re-read (beyond the initial Kobna, naturally).

About thebookgator

avid reader and Goodreads reviewer looking for a home.
This entry was posted in Book reviews, fantasy, Urban fantasy and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to False Value by Ben Aaronovitch. Well, yes. It was.

  1. cathepsut says:

    Yeah, this wasn‘t a winner for me either. Although I liked the changing timeline.

  2. stargazer says:

    Completely agree, glad I’m not the only one who was disappointed. Most people seem to have enjoyed it. Foxglove Summer wasn’t that strong either, but personally I thought The Hanging Tree was worse.

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