Book Review – Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A change in direction for the Peter Grant series. Peter’s out of London and without his mentor Nightingale. As well as this the story is one of two missing children, which adds an urgency to the pace of events. As you’d expect there is a strong supernatural element to the story, with an interesting twist in it. Only Peter and Beverley Brook really feature through the story, Nightingale bookends it and there is minor contact with Dr Walid at one point. All the rest of the characters are locals from West Mercia.
Out on his own Peter develops as a character. He’s a lot more self-reliant and capable, he doesn’t have any magical backup so deals with what he finds himself. The background is also expanded a bit, Peter meets one of the other survivors of the mysterious Ettersberg and finds out some more of what it was about, although there is still a lot of mystery surrounding it.
The main plot is well done. The parents are well observed and clues are dropped in without being too obvious. The countryside gets a good treatment too via a local police officer liaison. You get a really good sense of it being a real rural community with its own ways, which makes it different from a London based story. This isn’t just a lift and shift out of the city for the sake of it, the story needs to be in the countryside and feels like it is authentically there. It also allows the background expansion because it is just the sort of place that you would expect a burnt out survivor of Ettersberg to settle for the peace and quiet.
I’m pretty sure that it would work on its own, but there is a minor plot thread through it that definitely follows on from the previous book. However this isn’t central to the story (although I suspect it will be to the next one).
I’d certainly like to have seen some more of some of the elements. There is a hanging question around the grand-daughter of the Ettersberg survivor and also more could have been made of what happened at Ettersberg too.