Thursday, May 14, 2015

The "Peter Grant" Mysteries

I stumbled upon the “Peter Grant” series late last year, and proceeded to run through them in rather quick fashion. At first I had no idea (but it made perfect sense once I found out) that Ben Aaronovitch was a writer for the classic Doctor Who series. I would not go so far as to say that I like the series, but I find many aspects of the stories fascinating.

Right up front I have to mention a couple of major disclaimers and caveats. These books have the typical British language that borders on highly offensive for Americans. Not a whole lot, but more than many I know can tolerate. And, there is a bit more sex than I am used to in my crime fiction.

The most intriguing aspect of the series is the world that is builds. Aaronovitch does a wonderful job of incorporating a consistent, yet expanding fantasy element into what otherwise would be our ordinary modern day London. Some have compared it to the Harry Potter books, just for adults. It is not quite the same, nor does it achieve the same level of success, but it is the same concept.

Peter Grant is a trainee London police officer who discovers the magical side of the world, and that he has an aptitude for magic, so he is recruited to be an apprentice to the last official wizard on the Metropolitan Police Force. The other thing I find fascinating, and thought provoking, is the worldview behind the world Aaronovitch has created. It has clear hints at similarities to writers like Adams and Pratchett. That is to say an atheistic, materialistic outlook that tries to explain the wondrous, miraculous aspects of the world. It feels like the postmodern openness to a supernatural aspect to life that feels the need to reject any monotheistic, Christian ideas.

So, like a lot of modern fantasy (Adams, Pratchett, Doctor Who, etc.) you have an exploration of animistic, pantheistic, and polytheistic ideas that feel perfectly acceptable to the modern atheist who has rejected God in more of a stance against the wrongs of religion. These are highly relevant, widely shared ideas with which people of faith should be contending. Or at least with which we need to be familiar.

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