Paul Cornell,
London Falling
(Tor, 2013)

London Falling is about a quartet of law officers who gain a new way of seeing the world after coming in contact with a ritual site. So begins a police procedural involving spontaneous exsanguination, missing children, dead athletes and a talking cat.

"The Sight" enables our four heroes to see past the veil of the reality to things and events that exist beyond, yet somehow in the same space. They can also see ghosts, not just of the dead, but as echoes of memory. The more people "remember" something, even a falsehood, the stronger the manifestation. It's actually a pretty interesting idea.

What they discover is that a witch with a nearly 500-year-old grudge is targeting footballers. That struck me as rather silly. Maybe it's a British thing. I never did understand sports.

But the novel's biggest flaw is its lack of characterization. Even though we get a full background on at least one of the protagonists, none of them rises above their superficial roles. I didn't feel for any of them, or care about any of the action. There's an awful lot of that -- action -- but little else. Cornell is mainly known as a television writer (he's written some fine episodes of Doctor Who), and this style would be okay for an hour-long teleplay, but not a 400-page novel.

There is much better urban fantasy detective fiction out there.

book review by
Scott Promish

25 May 2013

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