Title: London Falling
Author: Paul Cornell
Genre: Urban fantasy
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Review copy from the publisher
First line: Costain entered the service station and stopped when he saw Quill standing there, not even pretending to look at the chocolate bars displayed in front of him.
Goodreads blurb: 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.
I love urban fantasy, and I love police procedurals, and I loved this combination of the two genres. I should say urban fantasy bordering on horror, because there was some pretty horrific stuff in this book: buckets of blood, child sacrifice, etc. I’m squeamish, but it wasn’t too much for me.
Cornell is a writer for Dr. Who, which I am sure I would probably love, if I would just make time to watch it. He imbues this book with a feeling of menace; the city of London becomes a vile presence pressing down on our intrepid detective team. Each of them comes with their own history and baggage, and the gift of the sight magnifies their own dark memories.
The team is headed up by Quill, who will discover that pursuing the woman behind the darkness over London has cost him more than he can imagine. Lisa Ross, intelligence analyst, has a personal stake in the case, and must come to terms with her family history in order to help with the investigation. Costain is running from his time as a slightly shady undercover cop, and is convinced that he’s headed for hell if he doesn’t make things right. And Sefton is out to prove that he’s more than the boy who was picked on while riding the school bus.
The idea of a hidden world lurking just outside our sight isn’t new, but Cornell gives it a particularly London flavor, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The villain they are pursuing is truly terrifying, the setting is brilliantly rendered, and the story had one twist that had me gasping out loud. While this story stands alone, the epilogue definitely indicates that Cornell is hoping to make this a series. If so, I look forward to reading the next one.