Long time readers of the blog will be aware of we Shelf Dwellers’ love of Ben Aaronovitch’s DC Peter Grant urban fantasy/police procedural series of novels. Happily, instead of making fans wait ages for the next book in the series to come out, Aaronovitch has cleverly taken to including short stories, graphic novels and exclusive audiobooks to sate the appetites of his fans. The Furthest Station is one of these stories and it is set between books five and six of the series (that’s Foxglove Summer and The Hanging Tree, for those interested). Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
There have been ghosts on the London Underground, sad, harmless spectres whose presence does little more than give a frisson to travelling and boost tourism. But now there’s a rash of sightings on the Metropolitan Line and these ghosts are frightening, aggressive and seem to be looking for something.
Enter PC Peter Grant junior member of the Metropolitan Police’s Special Assessment unit a.k.a. The Folly a.k.a. the only police officers whose official duties include ghost hunting. Together with Jaget Kumar, his counterpart at the British Transport Police, he must brave the terrifying the crush of London’s rush hour to find the source of the ghosts.
Joined by Peter’s wannabe wizard cousin, a preschool river god and Toby the ghost hunting dog their investigation takes a darker tone as they realise that a real person’s life might just be on the line.
And time is running out to save them.
More than just enjoying the story presented here, I absolutely adored the shorter format. If you have been following my reviews of this series, you’ll know that my high expectations garnered from reading the first three books led to some disappointment with some of the later books in the series. One of my main complaints in these reviews was directed at the filler material and slow pacing that seemed to plague the stories and the shorter format of The Furthest Station rectified that problem beautifully.
Even though the tale is short, it misses none of the humour, action and unexpected twists of the novels. The story starts off as a ghost hunt; reports of apparitions on the Chesham train line are compounded in weirdness when the victims doing the reporting apparently forget all about their complaint within a few hours of making it. Then a chance encounter with a roving spirit on a train leads to a tip off as to the whereabouts of a possible missing woman.
There is enough in the way of mystery here to keep readers guessing and while the magical booms and bangs are kept to a minimum there are more cerebral problems for readers to engage with. The inclusion of Abigail, Peter’s younger magically endowed cousin, adds variety to the story as well as raising the question about how to address Abigail’s magical abilities with her parents. A new river god also makes an appearance, which, given his tender age, could make things interesting in later stories.
Having enjoyed this reading experience, I will definitely be making a point to scout out the extra material that has been included in this series, hopefully beginning with the graphic novels. If you’re a fan of the series already, you should definitely add these short stories to your TBR and if you haven’t got started with DC Grant yet – what are you waiting for?
Until next time,