The Furthest Station – Ben Aaronovitch

Thanks to Subterranean Press and Netgalley for the digital advance copy in exchange for this review.

The first novella-length story to be published in Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series, The Furthest Station sits somewhere between Foxglove Summer and The Hanging Tree in terms of the series’ timeline. As with the various graphic novels, it deals with a story that runs at a tangent to the series’ main arc, in this case taking a closer look at how Peter’s cousin Abigail is fitting in with things. After a rash of sightings on the Metropolitan Line, Peter, Jaget and Abigail head off up the line to find out what’s causing ghosts to start joining the rush hour commute into London.

Plot-wise this keeps things fairly simple, with Peter and co’s investigations leading them in a straight line from an initial interview to the natural conclusion of the case, by way of some interesting supernatural experiments on a tube platform. Along the way we get plenty of the usual tidbits of London history, are introduced to a new member of the genius loci pantheon, and learn a little of how things used to be done in the early days of the Folly. All of which is thoroughly entertaining of course, but can’t quite disguise the fact that the overall plot is a bit shallow.

It’s told at the sort of pace you’d expect from one of the novels, which means that just as it feels like things are really picking up…it finishes. In maintaining his usual level of detail for fleshing out characters and exploring the demi-monde, despite the shortened length of the book, Aaronovitch has sacrificed a little narrative complexity…which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. One of the joys of this series is the way we’re gradually let in on the secrets, and here it’s delightful to watch Peter and Nightingale wrestle with the problem of what to do with Abigail, and indeed to watch Abigail demonstrate remarkable skill in manipulating Peter every which way.

It rather depends upon what you want from one of these books. As a novella it was never likely to further the overall plot, so if you’re looking for more on the Faceless Man or Peter’s dealings with Lesley…this isn’t for you. Likewise if you want a tightly-woven plot with twists and turns…again, probably not the right book. If on the other hand you’re happy with a slightly shallow plot as long as it gives you the chance to just spend more time around these characters – you’re probably going to enjoy this.

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