Peter Grant is facing fatherhood and an uncertain future with equal amounts of panic and enthusiasm. Rather than sit around, he takes a job with émigré Silicon Valley tech genius Terrence Skinner’s brand-new London start-up – the Serious Cybernetics Company.
Drawn into the orbit of Old Street’s famous ‘silicon roundabout’, Peter must learn how to blend in with people who are both civilians and geekier than he is. Compared to his last job, Peter thinks it should be a doddle. But magic is not finished with Mama Grant’s favourite son.
Because Terrence Skinner has a secret hidden in the bowels of the SCC. A technology that stretches back to Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage and forward to the future of artificial intelligence. A secret that is just as magical as it technological – and just as dangerous.
Author: Ben Aaronovitch
Narrator: Kobna Holdbrook-Smith
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group
Series: Rivers of London #8
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Running Time: 11hrs 3mins
Audio Release Date: 20/02/2020
My Rating of ‘False Value’: 3 out of 5
This won’t be an overly long review as I just don’t feel there was much going on between the pages.
Rivers of London is a series that, upon first diving into, I was instantly hooked. I’m not ordinarily one for Urban Fantasy, but there was just something about what Aaronovitch was selling that had me wanting to buy, no questions asked. Peter Grant is a very likeable, ‘everyman’ kind of protagonist. The way he bumbled his way to competency in a field that he would never have imagined possible is both believable and a situation that’s easy to see yourself in (the latter not being the kind of thing I often think of in magical tropes).
Sadly, despite the voice and overall character work staying very strong, I find the books losing a little bit more of their potency with every passing entry in the series. False Value felt particularly flat compared to previous outings and I feel that is down to two main features: The first being that the blurb makes you believe Peter is gone from the police … which isn’t true (this fact had me picking this up later than I intended as it felt like it was going down a very ‘meh’ route if that were actually the case) and the second, most to blame reason is that, in all honesty, False Value felt like nothing more than a filler novel with a plot thrown together so it felt like a complete book.
The things being set up in False Value have me feeling that, somewhere along the line, there will be a great pay-off and I will feel like having read this will make some other book in the future feel all the more special. And that’s wonderful for that future book. It isn’t wonderful for False Value which, in my opinion, felt quite flat and nothing more than the author setting the stage for bigger things in the future.
I like the way Aaronovitch looks to figures from the past and has them as being low-key figures at the forefront of all that is magical. So I’m all for Babbage, Lovelace etc … and further seeing how they helped shape the magic currently running wild in our world.
I will be carrying on with the series as I am in quite deep and want to see where it goes. I also feel having got through this, I am entitled to the big pay-off that was being set up through this book. I think I’ll be going into future Rivers of London books with less expectation than I have been.
As ever, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith is a narrator without peer. His work in this, and anywhere else I have heard him, is flawless. He is certainly one of my all-time favourite narrators.