When I finished reading Lies Sleeping, the seventh book in the Rivers of London series, I kind of wondered where the series would go from there. I had thought The October Man might point out the direction of the story’s progression, but I wasn’t exactly sure. Well, I was part right – in that the direction of the story’s progression was going to get into more international practitioners, just not those in Germany.
False Value involves Peter Grant getting involved in the tech sector. Earlier books had set up an idea where technology and magic couldn’t get along – this book sets up a situation where the two can coexist, though parasitically if not symbiotically. Spoilers will be below the cut.
Peter Grant is going undercover at a tech start-up called the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation, whose dot-com billionaire CEO may be up to some shady business involving a device called a “Mary Engine,” a sort of Magical Analytical Engine that Ada Lovelace was working on, along with a few other practitioners. One has been stolen and maybe in the CEO’s possession, and Grant needs to find out why.
False Value also serves to help expand the global state of the magical community, with some supporting characters who are Practitioners from New York – who have their own perspectives on the demimonde, and thoughts on how Peter interacts with it which are… interesting but not exactly surprising.
That said, while False Value sets up a new possible supernatural antagonist and gives us a glimpse of the wider magical world, the focus here is definitely on normal people’s interactions with the supernatural, alongside discussing what happens to cogs in the machine when the one driving it gets busted.
To be clear, this isn’t Aaronovitch crying about “won’t anyone think of the billionaires” – it’s much more on how disproportionate allocation of wealth allows the wealthy to not only evade the repercussions and consequences of their actions, it also allows them to disproportionately impact those who work under them, should they have to face the music.
It’s a pretty solid story, though those who are looking forward to seeing more of the various other members of Peters supporting cast will be slightly disappointed.