Lies Sleeping marks a major milestone in the Rivers of London/Peter Grant series.
Newly promoted to Detective Constable, cop/wizard Peter Grant and his allies hunt for their now-exposed enemy, the Faceless Man. As always, the evil wizard seems to be a step ahead, but Peter and company begin to unravel the details of his master plan, involving a major magical cataclysm that involves the mysterious Mr. Punch, the malevolent supernatural creature that first pulled Peter into the magical world. Peter wonders if his former friend Leslie May, now the Faceless Man’s ally, can be redeemed, as he finds himself in a final showdown with the villain.
Ben Aaronovitch adds another strong installment to the Peter Grant series with Lies Sleeping. He continues to build out the world of British magic, crafting a larger circle of allies, rivals and bystanders, while creating some good tension with the race to unravel the Faceless Man’s master plan. As always, Peter is a highly entertaining narrator, threading a lot of humor, but also humanity, into his account of the bizarre, unsettling and occasionally baffling incidents he and his allies encounter in their hunt for the Faceless Man. Aaronovitch manages a nice blend of fantasy and police procedural and pays off some long-running subplots en route to an action-filled climax, making this a crucial installment that wraps up the ongoing plot of the first few books while setting up the series to move in a new direction.
And honestly, wrapping up the Faceless Man plot is a smart idea. He’s made for a good ongoing villain, but keeping the focus on him going forward would be too limiting for the series. Aaronovitch has created a world full of magical issues for Peter and company to address and has left some dangling threads to pull on in subsequent books, while also allowing his characters to take on new threats. He does some nice character work, not just with Peter but with many of the other cops and allies around him, injecting a welcome note of realism of the potential trauma for an ordinary policeman dropped into this world alongside a practitioner like Peter or his mentor Nightingale. Aaronovitch also teases out some of the logic for Lesley’s character arc while leaving open a lot more to explore with this complicated presence. A significant event in Peter’s personal life at book’s end also has the potential to add some fascinating new wrinkles to the series.
Lies Sleeping is not a good entry point for newcomers, it really expects a reader to have a working knowledge of the earlier installments of the series. Aaronovitch provides only minimal recapping of past events and reintroduces already established cast members without going into exhaustive detail of their place in Peter’s world, relying on readers’ knowledge of past books. This isn’t a series you can drop into anywhere and this installment is inextricably link to what’s gone before.
For fans of the series, Lies Sleeping is a satisfying conclusion to a long-running plot that nicely sets the series up for its next phase.