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53. The Lost Child of Lychford by Paul Cornell

Another novella, the follow up to Cornell's novella from last year, The Witches of Lychford.

Where the first book was mostly humorous - about three women, who all in one way or another can tap in to something "other", trying to stop a supermarket setting up shop on the outskirts of their small town, because it will bring down the barrier between worlds - this one is dark and scary.

It starts with one of the women (a C of E vicar) seeing the ghost of a child who is very much alive and well and loved begging for help.  A prince of Faerie contacts the owner of the local magic shop to try to warn her that something is wrong.  From there on the reader can see perfectly well what is going on, but the characters can't.  We also find out the truth about Judith's husband and it's not comic, as we've been led to believe, it's pretty horrific.

I couldn't put this one down, it's simply wonderful.

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And I appear to have exceeded the allowed number of tags on LJ, so from now on I can only use ones I've used before.

30. Who Killed Sherlock Holmes by Paul Cornell

Regular readers will know that I have been eagerly awaiting this one. Paul Cornell's Shadow Police novels are my very favourite supernatural detective series, mainly because they are straight up horror in a police setting, and an exercise in what smart people do when presented with the supernatural.

In Cornell's London, whatever London remembers is real, so Sherlock Holmes is one of the ghosts of London. One of the detectives, Sefton, has a dream that Sherlock Holmes has been killed, rushes to the Holmes museum at 221B, and finds a body that only those who have the Sight can see.

This coincides (or not) with three separate Sherlock Holmes films/TV shows being shot in London, and grisly deaths of people who have ever played Sherlock Holmes, in ways that make increasingly less sense.

Meanwhile, the data analyst Ross is on a quest to recover her lifetime's happiness (which she had to sacrifice in the last book to buy a crucial clue - one of the singular darkest things I've ever read), and Lofthouse, the senior office who doesn't know why she knows about the Shadow Police, finds out more about her past and how she came to be involved in all this. These are easily the best parts of the book.

I loved every second of it. Still not as much as London Falling, but it will be extremely difficult to beat that.
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4. Witches of Lychford by Paul Cornell

A lovely little novella from Tor to keep us from rioting while awaiting the new Shadow Police novel.

A small Gloucestershire town is divided over the proposal for a new supermarket. One of the village's older inhabitants sees the plans, realises that this will unleash things from other worlds, and decides to fight back.

It starts out as superficial and silly as it sounds, but then gets darker and very, very good indeed.
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21. The Severed Streets by Paul Cornell

The eagerly awaited (by me) sequel to London Falling. I finished it on Wednesday but wanted to think about some things before I wrote it up. Sadly my brain has been deader than a very dead thing, so I'm still not very articulate.

I'm still not sure how I feel about this. The main problem being that I came to the second book with expectations.

It didn't go where I thought it would - we still don't know a lot about the structure and nature of magical London.

Cornell shares my opinions on the Jack the Ripper murders and the hype. On the plus side, Paul Cornell has come to the same conclusion as me. On the down side, should I ever articulate such opinions, it'll just get written off as having stolen them from Paul.

I'm still not sure how I feel about his insertion of Neil Gaiman as a character, but I kind of like where he went with it.

And although we go in knowing that one way to gain insight is to "make sacrifice", the level of sacrifice here - well, it packs a punch. It's a Dresden-files level of having to give up too much to get the desired result. (Speaking of which, that's out tomorrow. Yay!)

Having said all that, yes it's a good ripping yarn. I was way over-thinking it.
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16. London Falling by Paul Cornell

This month's book club selection. I liked it so much the first time I read it again. I wanted to see if it still works when you know [spoiler].

The answer is yes, it does. Found things that I missed the first time.

And realised right towards the end why I like it - it's about what happens when scary shit happens to smart people rather than the horror story trope of people behaving stupidly. Even when they make wrong moves here it's made from a position of scientific enquiry and logical deduction.

The sequel's out on the 22nd of May. The week before the new Dresden Files. I may be some time.
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68. London Falling by Paul Cornell

I was not convinced about this - I wasn't sure I needed more supernatural detective fiction set in London in my life, and the author is best known for writing Doctor Who, which I Do Not Do.

I didn't take to it straight away, either, finding it too police-procedural.

And then suddenly our detectives are in the creepy home of a serial killer, put their hands in a cauldron full of soil and can see things that other people can't. From there on in I couldn't put it down.

It is very police procedural, and at the same time genuinely creepy and scary. Unlike Rivers of London, where the protagonist sees something weird and is enfolded into the hierarchy that exists for dealing with the uncanny, the team here are having to make it up as they go along while pretending to find out everything by mundane means.

A lot of thought has gone into this, and there's some interesting complexity to it as well. Place is very important. There are two ways to gain power - to be "remembered", or to "make sacrifice". The detective who is most serious about making this whole magic thing work for them comes to realise that he is too complex to "be remembered" (he is black, and posh, and gay, a member of the Occupy movement AND a cop) so he has no choice but to "make sacrifice" and has to find a way to do this without becoming a monster.

Unlike the Rivers of London series which is mostly set in inner London, this book takes place mostly in Zones 3 to 5.

Can't recommend this highly enough. I pushed it on Jason on Saturday morning and haven't heard a word from him since. I eagerly await book two.


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