Title: The October Man
Author: Ben Aaronovich
Series: Rivers of London #7.5
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 51
(see breakdown below)
Trier is famous for wine, Romans and for being Germany’s oldest city. So when a man is found dead with, his body impossibly covered in a fungal rot, the local authorities know they are out of their depth.
Fortunately this is Germany, where there are procedures for everything.
Enter Investigator Tobias Winter, whose aim is to get in, deal with the problem, and get out with the minimum of fuss, personal danger and paperwork. With the help of frighteningly enthusiastic local cop, Vanessa Sommer, he’s quick to link the first victim to a group of ordinary middle aged men – and to realise they may have accidentally reawakened a bloody conflict from a previous century. But the rot is still spreading, literally and with the suspect list extending to people born before Frederick the Great solving the case may mean unearthing the city’s secret magical history.
. . . so long as that history doesn’t kill them first.
It is no secret that this series is one of my favourites. I always find it hard to review books that are deep into series. But the fact that I am extremely invested in and actively thrusts into friends hands makes it so hard to be objective and not just gush about all the moments I loved. I have tried to remain spoiler free but it is safe to say I will continue to love this series wherever in the world it takes me.
This novella takes us away from Peter, the Folly and London and allows us a glimpse into magical policing within Germany. It is separate from the main story arc and is the first book in this series that is not told from Peter’s perspective. I was scared. I adore Peter Grant (I read book 7 in a matter of hours after it was released and still haven’t found the words to review it – it may need a re-read). I was really worried about leaving his perspective behind but I should have trusted Aaronovich not to do me wrong. While this is told from the perspective of Tobias Winter, Aaronovich’s narrative voice is still very much there guiding the reader through this delightfully booze based mystery even through Tobias’ personality is quiet diverse from Peter’s.
I am not going to talk about the plot points as it is only a novella. However, unlike the graphic novels and the first novellas, Furthest station, The October man is a complete standalone. It can be read independently with only casual references to Peter’s story arc.
We still get the interjections of local information that I really do enjoy about the main Rivers storyline, but with Tobias’ softer tone. Tobias is a fantastic character. He comes across as very professional, but relaxed and friendly, dare I say more experience and mature than Peter, but with hints of the same curiosity. The introduction of Vanessa Sommer and her enthusiasm played fantastically with the reserve and professionalism that Tobias brings. I had the Waterstones edition with its included short story, which just expanded her character in such a delightful way. We really get a feel for these characters in such a short space, watching them develop a professional relationship.
It also serves to excellently expand the worldbuilding for Peter’s London. We dive into elements of how magic functions in this world that has been researched in Germany but remains unknown to the follow and this is an excellent way of adding all those bits of information into the overall series. The KBA seems such an established department and the glimpses we got were fascinating compared the the Folly. It is also not short on the magical elements we have become familiar with over the novels, such as German Genii Locorum.
Despite my trepidation I was absorbed from the first page and I loved all the comparisons and differences. I very much hope we get to visit these characters again, maybe with Peter in tow. This series is yet to disappoint me and I am very much looking forward to the next novella that promises to take us across the pond to check in with Agent Reynolds (first featured in Book #3 – Whisper’s underground).