Rivers of London Book 1: Body Work

Wondering what the ‘haunted BMW’ in Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London: The Hanging Tree is referring to? It’s from this graphic novel, which is something of a side-quest for protagonist Peter Grant

Rivers of London: Body Work - Peter Grant

Rivers of London, the best-selling series of fantasy thrillers comes to Titan Comics. While writer Ben Aaronovitch was putting the finishing touches to The Hanging Tree, he teamed up with co-writer Andrew Cartmel (who was once Aaronovitch’s script editor on Sylvester McCoy’s Dr Who in the 80s) for a series of comic collections. The first up is Body Work.

Our protagonist is Peter Grant (think Luther early on in his career), who works for the Met Police’s magic division. He’s our narrator in the novels, our eyes and ears. As he learns how the Met come to have a magic division and why, so do we. And as Grant goes about his police work he finds more uses for his magic. The medium of comics is, of course, more visual than prose, which means there’s less requirement for detailed descriptions. Still, what there is captures Peter Grant’s voice well.

But where comics lose out in words they gain in pictures, with some nice clear art from Lee Sullivan. Just occasionally it’s a little on the sparse side, which unfortunately leaves colourist Luis Guerrero filling in extra details, and here it has a tendency to get a bit heavy-handed at times.

The big problem Sullivan has, of course, is making Peter Grant and the cast of characters into real people. After creating pictures in our minds, there’s always going to be some disparity when these characters appear in a visual medium. Readers of the books will have their own ideas on how characters should look and dress, and Sullivan has to manage these expectations. The character of Beverly Brook, for example, spends a fair bit of time in the novels in the water and, well, naked, but is thoughtfully given a wetsuit for the comics!

To readers who know the series, the actual story – an investigation into haunted cars – is by necessity slighter than a novel, but fans certainly won’t be disappointed. For new readers, however, this isn’t the best jumping on point. Seek out the original Rivers of London novel, and then come back – you’ll thank yourself!

Finally it’s worth noting that while there’s a fun five-page bonus strip exclusive to the collected edition, a lot of the background prose material from the original comics sadly isn’t present.

Rivers of London - Body Work - Guleed and Grant avoid a haunted BMW

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