London Falling – Paul Cornell

London Falling (Shadow Police, #1)

I found Paul Cornell through Ben Aaronovitch – author of The Rivers of London Series.  I was checking his Goodreads page to find an update for ‘Foxglove Summer.’  Aaronovitch read and rated ‘London Falling’ well.  London officers are investigating Crime Boss Rob Toshak, who for ten years has been able to charm jury’s and get off without a slap on the wrist to their endless frustration.  It has some basic similarities to The Rivers of London.   There is a paranormal division in the London police that civilians are unaware of.  ‘London Falling’ is grim and it’s characters not as likable.  I enjoyed this book. I hated the first two chapters that introduced us to the Undercover cops Costain and Sefton who are embedded in Toshak’s criminal enterprise.  The book grew on me the more I read.  Stick with it.

Most authors, even with their unlikable characters, try to endear the reader to them.  I don’t believe Cornell cares about this.  I will say I grew to like them more as the story churned on.  They have undesirable traits.  Each character on the investigating team is important, and couldn’t function without them, but they get on each others last nerve.  Detective Investigator Quill has been running the Toshak investigation and as he is raiding Toshak’s enterprise he has every intention of taking Costain down in the process. Quill doesn’t trust him, and whether he has proof or not, he’s going to trash Constain’s career.  Costain is the lead undercover, and Quill should distrust him, he has set aside some of Toshak’s drug supply for a rainy day.  He is just as willing to sell out the investigation as support it if it means he ends up on top.  Sefton is the junior undercover and has allowed Costain to bully him and edit his investigation reports to delete any unsavory or questionable actions.  Sefton would love to get back at Costain.  He won’t proactively take Costain down but if the right questions are asked he’ll talk.  Lisa Ross is the analyst on the paperwork side of the investigation.  No one knows who she is, what her involvement is, and she doesn’t play well with others.  This unlikely crew are put together to solve Toshak’s death after he combusts in the investigation room with Detective Inspector Quill – drenching him and everything else in the room in blood.  There are no leads and no cause of death.  For all intents and purposes it looks like these four are set a hopeless task.

I listened to the audible version of book narrated by Damien Lynch.  I enjoyed his voice and interpretation of characters but he takes long pauses between sentences.  I thought that the download was skipping content.  It wasn’t.  I  sped the audio up to adjust for this but it didn’t help.  I had to get used to it.  If you choose to go with the audible version make sure you listen to the sample before purchasing to ensure this will not detract from your enjoyment of the story.

As the magic system developed, the team became more cohesive, and the investigation evolved into the paranormal I dug in and found myself captivated.  I did find I had to go back and listen to portions a second time to ensure I knew who was speaking.  It wasn’t always obvious which characters narrative you were in.  I felt I was involved in my own investigation.  Usually this would be a frustration for me but I didn’t mind it.  I encourage people who enjoy adult paranormal, thriller, and noir to read this.  I don’t believe all of Aaronovitch’s fans will like it.  It doesn’t have the same sense of humor that The Rivers of London has. Chuck Wendig fans might like it a bit more.  It’s not as gritty as Wendig but I could see his fans enjoying this.  I have hope that this series will develop and intend to pick up the second in this series, ‘The Severed Streets’.  I’m picking up the e-book because, unfortunately, the second book is not available in audible yet.  I grew to like Lynch.


About Steph

As C. S. Lewis said, “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” I am an indiscriminate reader. I can find a way to enjoy almost all books. I find they are like people – you can find something endearing in almost every one of them. I love to write reviews. I hope you enjoy them and find them useful. View all posts by Steph

8 responses to “London Falling – Paul Cornell

  • thebookgator

    Nice review! Good point about it possibly appealing to Wendig fans. Sounds like the reader would be very distracting, however.


  • Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I also listened to the audiobook of this. Didn’t enjoy the book as much as I’d hoped, plus there were the problems with the audio version that you mentioned. I ended up returning it, because of the skips and silences. I don’t think it affected my overall opinion of the book itself though. I thought it was well written, just totally not the vibe I was expecting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • stephswint

      I understand. The first part of the book was really rough for me and I took a break from it for a while. I think because I found it through Aaronovitch I expected something more similar to his work. It wasn’t as well written and lacked the humor. I grew to like it and adapted to Lynch – although I completely understand why you returned it. I’m interested to see if it gets better. I hear the second book is much better. I hope so. I started to like Costain who I hated initially. It wasn’t the vibe I was expecting either though


  • Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    OK, I’ve been curious about this one and seeing you say it shouldd appeal to Wendig fans just bumped it up my list.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Molly Mortensen

    I always go to my favorite author’s pages to see which books they liked. That’s how I discovered Skulduggery Pleasant, through Rick Riordan’s Goodreads.

    I like the whole paranormal investigations thing even if it’s done often. That’s weird that he didn’t try to make the readers like his characters, that’s a different approach.

    I prefer humor so I think I’ll try Rivers of London first. Nice review. 🙂


    • stephswint

      I would definitely go for River of London first. You and I tend to not go for the grim and gritty first. I think you will like it better. I think you will love Midnight Riot – the first of the series.


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