I enjoy Peter Grant’s company. I’d read the books even if there was no other plot that following Peter around and seeing his disdainful reaction to the rich and tasteless, his fierce opposition to the abuse of power, his passion for architecture, his dismissal of history written only from the victor’s perspective and his endless appetite to know more.
In “The Hanging Tree”, Peter has stepped out of Nightingale’s shadow and is making a place for himself in the Folly, the Met and in the supernatural world, from the demi-monde to the river gods. He’s now operating with confidence, building alliances and deepening relationships. He’s also still leaving a swath of property damage behind him wherever he goes.
I’m left with the impression that the plot of “The Hanging Tree” meandered a bit from its original course as the tree itself is almost incidental to the story. If it did wander, it didn’t make the flow any weaker. From his summons by Lady Ty, goddess of the Tyburn river, to repay a favour owed by suppressing her daughter’s involvement of an incident in One Hyde Park, home to the mega-rich, through confrontations with enemies old and new, the plot builds like a tidal bore as Peter pushes his way towards the truth.
The journey gives lots of opportunities for Peter to unleash his wit on the wealthy, their buildings, their art, their understanding of colonial history and the cars they choose to drive (I love the idea of a Range Rover being described as a Chelsea Tractor).
The strongest characters in this book are women, (provided you count Goddesses as women). Peter is surrounded by them and very much at ease with them. He listens to them, acknowledges their power, sees through their pique and temper and knows them for the impulses and instincts that push them and him to be better. Peter is now in a grown-up relationship with Beverly, the twenty-something river goddess who rescued him in the last book. He’s also building a relationship with witches raised outside of the male-dominated rules of the Folly and with his self-declared “Muslim Ninja” colleague on the murder squad who, this time, gets to tell some of her own Origin Story.
As always, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith brings the characters in the book alive, coping with accents from all over the world and giving Peter Grant his distinctive voice.
If you’d like to listen to Kobna in action, click on the SoundCloud link below.