Broken Homes – Ben Aaronovitch, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith

So let’s see. I need to post a review about something I liked. *scans list of recent reads* Nope… nope… no, not that either… Ah.


There are some writers who feel they need to inject a little geekery into their books, trying to claim geek cred they haven’t really earned; I’ve seen more sadly misused references to LotR and Star Trek and so on than I care to think about, the sorts of things that would make someone as unfamiliar with the referent as the writer nod knowingly, but which make a geek like me long to send the writer brownies dusted with iocaine powder.

But Ben Aaronovitch is the legitimate and true owner of a TARDIS-load of honest-to-Eru geek cred, so when Peter Grant remarks to Toby the dog that “We’re living in Isengard”, or remarks on something’s similarity to modern Gallifreyan (“They looked disturbingly like the payload zones of a demon trap and even more disturbingly like modern Gallifreyan”), it’s just a happy happy thing of beauty.

Broken Homes is another excellent installment in an excellent series. The hunt continues for the so-wonderfully-named Little Alligators; another “Falcon-related” death comes the way of the little strange-crimes unit housed in The Folly; life goes on much as usual. Until Peter and Leslie are called upon to go undercover in an apartment complex called Skygarden, long known to be a locus of probable criminal activity, and now revealed as a possible locus of magical activity.

There is, perhaps, a bit more than is actually fun of Aaronovitch/Peter’s 1234favorite hobby horse, architecture – but it is relevant. And it is acknowledged that other characters’ eyes pretty much glaze over when Peter rabbits on about it, so that’s okay then.

I confessed in a Goodreads update that Kobna Holdbrook-Smith’s voice reduces me to a state of squeeing fangirl; it’s an understatement, I admit.

Though what Peter/Aaronovitch has against Dire Straits – and Queen – I don’t know. I will overlook it because Peter is otherwise kind of awesome and he is very young. And a music snob. I blame his father.

As seems to be usual, the plotline is the weak area of the book. Characterization, setting, world-building, all of that stuff is terrific, but in Broken Homes the plot has the same flaw as one or two of the other books in the series: it meanders a little. It just feels like the plot could use a bit of tightening.

But, as usual, I had enough fun with the rest (especially KH-S, of course) that I don’t care.

What I do care about is the meaning of the title. I wondered about it now and then. I mean, “The Rivers of London” is pretty obvious, and the rest make good sense as well … so, I wondered briefly here and there, what homes are broken here? Well, I found out, I did. And it made me say “No, oh no no no…” out loud. It’s bad. Not to spoil anything, but it’s really bad.

*ahem*sniffle* Anyway.

This installment moves the story forward substantially – things are happening in the hunt for the Faceless Man and the Little Crocodiles, and I think Peter might say “shit’s getting serious”. (Sorry.) It’s going to be a long, long wait until the next book.

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10 Responses to Broken Homes – Ben Aaronovitch, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith

  1. pooks says:

    I love these books with an unholy passion, and I love Kobna Holdbrook-Smith’s performances equally so. I read them AND listen to them. I buy them three times. In digital, in audio, and eventually in hardcover to go on my bookshelf. That’s how much I love these books.

    I was in Ireland last October and hoped I’d be able to get a copy of Broken Homes there, but didn’t find a bookstore that carried it. It wasn’t at Waterstones at Heathrow, either. [Or whatever bookstore is at Heathrow.] I was thrilled to get an ARC so did get to read it before it was released in the US, but haven’t downloaded the audiobook yet. It’s time!

  2. pooks says:

    Where are you on goodreads? I clicked to follow your reviews there, and ended up on a Hufflepuff site. Is that yours, too?

  3. stewartry says:

    I try to save myself for the audiobooks, if I can, and indulge in all my squeeing at once. Unholy passion – that works!

    I am here on Goodreads:
    – I only post links to here for reviews now, because of Goodreads policies.

    ETA: The Hufflepuff site isn’t mine; I will have to see if I can figure out what happened to the linkages…

  4. pooks says:

    Oh, I see [about the reviews]. Well, that’s okay. I do follow via email.

    Do you accept ARCs and/or review requests or do you only review books you’ve chosen on your own>

  5. stewartry says:

    For quite a while I was deep into Netgalley, but I’ve cut way back; I also enter some giveaways on LibraryThing, which has had some wonderful results and some dreadful results. I was just contacted through the blog by someone who liked my approach and asked me to apply it to her manuscript; I liked *her* approach, and the book sounds like fun, so I agreed. I find it much more enjoyable to read what I want to read and review if I feel like it, rather than reading for duty and being compelled to review.

  6. pooks says:

    If this looks like something you might be interested in, I can have my publisher send you a copy. If not, no prob. Also if you get a copy and decide it’s not your thing, there’s not a problem with that, either. I can’t imagine forcing myself to read something out of a sense of obligation. From time to time I’ve done so, but it’s excruciating.

  7. stewartry says:

    Sorry I didn’t reply a little while ago – I got to wandering about on your blog, and saw your reference to “Les Nessman and his duct-tape-on-the-floor office walls”, and with a big grin on my face then had to go to Amazon to see if later seasons of WKRP are available. (Answer: Not yet.) So between your obviously great taste and a really intriguing book synopsis, yes, I’d love to read This Crumbling Pageant (great title, btw).

  8. pooks says:

    Terrific! What format do you prefer?

  9. pooks says:

    I couldn’t figure out any other way to approach you except here in comments. If you have contact info on the blog, I didn’t manage to find it. But I have your email now if you want to remove it from the public comments.

  10. stewartry says:

    I have a Kindle, so mobi works. I’m looking forward to it!

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