In the Rivers of London series, there’s always been something of a gap between what Thomas Nightengale, The Folly’s “Gov”, was up to between the end of the Second World War and the start of the series. There’s an implication that he’s been involved in varying degrees with the Met, but not heavily – if he had, then the Met wouldn’t have had to come up with the procedures they did when Peter Grant started working out of The Met. The most recent (as of this writing) collected graphic novel in the series, Action at a Distance, helps to answer some of those questions, though not without a few problems of his own.
Action at a Distance is based around a framing narrative of Nightengale going to the memorial service of an old friend from the war, and Peter coming across the case notes on an old case the two worked together, shortly after peacetime. The case involved the British version of Operation Paperclip, and a series of murders by someone with magical aptitude.
The graphic novel itself is decent, but it has a couple issues that left me scratching my head. One of the major rules of how magic worked in the novels is that magic has a very nasty habit of futzing with technology and causing it to malfunction. Now, we normally see this happen with microchips in the books, but admittedly that’s because we never really see any serious examples of “advanced technology” from the immediate post war period – no transistors and no vacuum tubes.
Still, without getting too far into spoilers, considering the plot of Action at a Distance involves putting practioners to work on nuclear-fucking-reactors to managers their output with magic, the level of impact that magic has on 1950s technology feels like something that really needs to have been more thought out.
That said, I enjoyed the story and the chunk of Nightengale’s life that it provided the reader as I was reading it. However, thus far no part of the Rivers series has really left me with the level of “Wait, hang on!” that Action at a Distance left me with.