Book Banter: The Severed Streets

streetsTitle: The Severed Streets (Shadow Police #2)

Author: Paul Cornell

Length: 401 pages

Genre: urban fantasy

Where Bethany’s Copy Came From: The Indianapolis Public Library

Plot Basics: Cops-of-the-weird Quill, Costain, Sefton and Ross are back to solve a string of murders happening as London is tearing itself apart with riots. It seems like rich, white men are the target of bizarre string of killings that might be a modern take on Jack the Ripper (or a ghostly version of one.) The team tries to apply what they’ve been learning about the Sight and the real London. But as Costain and Ross pursue their own line of inquiry and Neil Gaiman (yes, the author-turned-character) provides some mysterious clues, the team is not sure they can stay far enough ahead of stop the crimes.

Banter Points: I’ve been looking forward to this book ever since the first one, London Falling, came out. I love this series because it combines solid police procedural with urban fantasy and involves no vampire romance.

I also really like how Cornell has given his quartet of cops new powers, but ones they don’t understand. It’s a nice twist on that trope, that they are fumbling and unsure instead of suddenly becoming major players in this unknown world that’s around them. He pushes Quill, Costain and Ross for sure in this one and it will be really interesting to keep reading and see where their experiences take them.

Bummer Points: While it was funny at first, I didn’t love Neil Gaiman as a character in this story. Don’t get me wrong, I love Neil Gaiman. Using him as a character worked for the things Cornell needed him to do. But, this is the most egregious of example of a trend I’m seeing lots of authors doing — name-dropping in their books. I see it most in mysteries, where one author has their main character mention a book/author of someone else in the community. At first, I thought it was clever. Lately though, my reaction to it is a cynical response of Look who I know. Aren’t I cool for mentioning them? I think this one stuck out so much because it would be fair to say the Neil Gaiman is the epitome of all things urban fantasy and weird in the writing world. To me, rather than being clever, it felt like Cornell was out to prove how cool he was that he could get Gaiman’s permission to use him as a character in this book.

Word Nerd Recommendation: I’ve convinced Stacie to pick up the first one. Fans of both detective fiction and urban fantasy should give these a try, gimmicks not withstanding.

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