What a hoot!
I've ventured into the dark underbelly of urban fantasy before, but I've never encountered anything this funny while in there. Peter Grant is a rookie cop in London who seems destined for a boring, paper-pushing desk job, until a ghost appears to him at a crime scene and gives him evidence in the case. It turns out Grant has an aptitude for magic—which, oh by the way, is totally real!—and is promptly whisked off to meet his new boss, Inspector (and wizard!) Nightingale. Something evil is stalking London's streets, turning normal people into face-disfiguring rage machines, and Grant is going to have a lot to learn if he wants to be of any help to Nightingale in the investigation.
Come for the magic—Aaronovitch is an equal-opportunity fantasy writer, liberally sprinkling in all manner of supernatural creatures—but stay for the humor. Grant is really funny, in that “laugh at my pain” self-deprecating way.
He's also “just enough” of a lot of things without going overboard into annoying. He's awkward with women, but not totally hopeless. He's grouchy and sarcastic, but deep down he has a heart of gold. He's goofy without being too silly. He's a great character, and it makes me excited to continue on in the series to see what other crazy shit he gets into.
I listened to the audio and highly recommend it. The reader (of course) has a fabulous British accent on top of being a skilled voice actor. He manages to do higher-pitched voices for the female characters without coming off screechy or forced. And his deadpan delivery of Grant's jokes is right on.
Highly recommended escapist reading for your holidays right here. Enjoy!