By Paul Cornell
Tor, out now
When a suspect dies in odd circumstances in police custody, the investigating officers realise they are dealing with something far beyond the usual realm of policing which will pit them against a force far more powerful than they can believe…
Over the past few months, I’ve read a number of “urban fantasies” which have cross-pollinated with the crime genre. The vast majority have erred towards the fantasy side of the spectrum. Paul Cornell’s magnificent thriller redresses the balance as he applies the principles of policing to dealing with something that, for pretty good reasons, considers that it’s above the law.
Cornell views London with the eye of a twenty-first century Henry Mayhew, capturing the underbelly and parts that go on beneath the surface, creating a very believable backdrop for the more fantastical elements. Those who remember the 1970s series The Omega Factor will probably enjoy this: more than once, the theme from that show was running through my head as I read some of the encounters between the police team and their opponent. As the story develops, the team demonstrate the stages of scepticism and acceptance as they begin to believe the evidence of their own eyes, and it’s appropriate that they all do so at their own speed.
It won’t come as a surprise to read that this began as a television story, and should someone pick up the rights, it’d be an antidote to the appalling series Demons from a few years back. The air of dread that permeates the book would make for an enthralling show, if done with the right HBO-type approach.
Verdict: With the promise of more adventures for this team to come, this is highly recommended. 8/10