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on 16 January 2014
Rob Toshack is a crime lord that has somehow come to run pretty much all the crime in London. DI Quill heads the operation to bring Toshack to justice & there are two undercover cops in the organisation helping to do so. When Toshack is caught however things take a strange turn and Quill, the two undercover cops and an analyst are drawn into a supernatural world. Originally a TV script (and now optioned for TV) there are a few issues with the book that may put off other readers. The characters are a bit stock at the beginning for example and would be better differentiated on screen I guess, with visual clues. There is also some exposition provided in flashback that could be seen as being a bit clumsy. The writing, the story and the second half of the book are more than good enough for me to forgive this. The hints and glimpses of the world underneath (or above?) London are great and the plot, once it kicks in, cracks along at a good pace with our four protagonists growing as we understand more as we flit from one to another POV. There were points where the book gave me a visceral emotional reaction including a shiver up the spine and a solid "woah" from one reveal. To me that's a sign of a good book. There is some clever stuff in here and it gets the balance right between revealing enough to get a handle on what's going on whilst concealing enough to keep you intrigued and wanting to follow on. Good job really as there is a sequel due in May this year. I for one am eagerly awaiting it.
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It is hard not to compare this book to Ben Aaronovich's 'Rivers of London' series as they are both essentially police procedurals with a supernatural bent set in London. Where Aaronovich's books contain humour and are enjoyably tongue in cheek at times this book aims for a more serious note. Most of the time it successfully hits that note and it is to be commended for the overall accuracy of the police aspects and the plausability of the magical sections which are generally original and fresh. Where it loses a star though is in the mystical sections where I just lost interest and ploughed through to get back to the story.
The initial chapters introducing the three nale characters are a little confusing and take time to figure out and then the reader is into the main story with the horrific murder of a gangster in police custody. DI Jimmy Quill forms a little team consisting of two black undercover detectives and an intelligence analyst who literally get a unique view of an alternative London where the supernatural exists unseen by the general public and they have to track down and face a serial killer the like of which the world has never known.
Alternative London stories to seem to be a trend at the moment but Cornell doesn't dwell on this world in the way that a book like 'Neverwhere' does for example but dips into it as part of the plot whilst his team investigate in the real world.
The small plot twist at the end is telegraphed far too far in advance but it does lead this reader at least to hope that there will be more books featuring the team from Operation Toto.
Overall this was a very good read and if I could have given it four and a half stars I would have done.
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on 10 March 2013
London Falling begins as a big drug bust is about to take place. It's an operation that's been years in the planning and involves two undercover officers. The bust is happening now more because they're running out of money than because the timing's just right, nevertheless they manage to arrest a local gang boss and several of his "soldiers". Unfortunately this coup is short-lived as he's killed whilst in police custody. In fact whilst he's being interviewed and in full view of CCTV. Nevertheless it's not clear who, what or how the murder took place.

Shortly after this a small unit is formed to investigate this. It turns out to have been a supernatural killing and after visiting a related crime scene the team acquire `The Sight' which is the ability to see... well what exactly it is they can see is explored in the rest of the novel, but for now I'll just say that it adds an extra dimension to things.

I loved this book. However I do have to say that it took me a while to get into it. The first two or three chapters have almost no supernatural element at all and I suppose since that's why I had picked up the book I was waiting for that to appear. Once it did however we were off to the races. In the past I've scored books highly because they had a page-turning quality but they haven't always stayed with me once I've finished them. London Falling was not like that. It was page-turning because I really wanted to know what happened but when I found out what happened I was usually more intrigued and more concerned about the characters.

Cornell has said that one of the things he wanted to do was show how real Police officers would handle the supernatural, and what it would be like if they applied the same set of techniques to these other-worldly experiences as they do to every day investigations. I think that's where the book sets itself apart. It's also why I think the first section of the book is what it is - we need to establish what `ordinary' policing is like to some extent.

This book reminded me of a couple of other authors when I was reading it. First Michael Marshall Smith - specifically Only Forward - it has a similar sense of a dream/spirit world that lies alongside the everyday world. Secondly it reminded me of the better Ankh-Morpork set Discworld books. It has that same sense of a city being an intricate working mechanism and of the author being fascinated with how it all fits together. So yes, in the words of the old cliche, London really is a character in this book.

Having said that, this book reminded me of those others but is totally unlike them in style or tone. It is its own book and that's to its credit. It is a fairly intense book and the crimes committed are pretty gruesome stuff. But then it's definitely no worse than some of your serial killer thrillers. There is a thread of wry dark humour but it's not a light read, it is a rewarding one though.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This was an enjoyable read. What begins as a story of undercover policing among London's organised criminals (tensions in the team, possible betrayal, budget pressures) suddenly takes another - and darker twist - as the chief suspect is killed in a particularly gruesome way (not a spoiler - this is all over the book's blurb). The key officers from Operation Goodfellow (the name itself I think a clue to what's going on) are left investigating the darkness behind the crime, with nothing to help them but their "copper instinct" and the systematic procedures of modern policing.

Cornell then adroitly slides this group of bickering, disparate police officers (and one analyst - who has secrets of her own) into a parallel London, inhabited by wonders and horrors that only they can see (but which they are still defenceless against). As in a number of similar recent books by authors such as China Mieville and Ben Aaronovitch, London comes to the fore, almost turning into a character itself. The story gathers pace, with the original criminal gang almost (but not quite) left behind in the pursuit of a truly horrible villain (yet one we're forced, to a degree, to sympathise with). On the way the reader encounters an extremely polite, though infuriating, talking cat, phantom ships and the most haunted shop in London (which, actually, isn't). All great fun, and as a few mysteries are clearly left unexplained, this book is obviously destined to be the start of a series.

I'm looking forward to more.
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Paul Cornell is known to me as a writer of Doctor Who, and I was interested to see that he had written a novel. London Falling is I think best described as a mash-up of The Bill and Torchwood. What starts off as an ordinary London police force undercover operation soon turns into an experience for those involved in the operation which falls well outside their police procedures. The four main characters – Quill, Costain, Sefton and Ross - are all very different people and all tough modern London police, but even they are shaken by what they seem to have uncovered. A new realm of experience is about to befall them, and it’s one that will take them to places they never knew existed, and change them all forever.

Absolutely enthralling, this book grabs you by the throat and drags you after it without mercy. The action is endless, the pacing frenetic, and the revelations follow one after another page after page. The characters are hard, brutal men and women who each have their own baggage to contend with, and the shadowy world they now find themselves in threatens not only their lives but their very sanity. This story is complete in itself, but I’m delighted to find that Paul Cornell has now written another story featuring DI Quill, The Severed Streets which I am going to read as soon as I can get hold of a copy. Brilliant.
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This came up in my recommended by Amazon list and it looked interesting so off I went. Very glad I did, it was great! What starts off as a police procedural, following several characters involved in an undercover operation to bring down a rather nefarious gang member, it soon shoots off into paranormal fun and games. After these characters develop "the sight" they see a new and disturbing version of London, and set about attempting to put things right. It is most definitely an adult book - some of the themes are extremely dark, but you also have your moments of humour, and a great deal of nail biting action. The characters are well drawn - I especially liked the dynamics between the group and the fact that their backgrounds are well enough described to allow you to understand why they act as they do. There are enough twists and turns along the way to keep the most jaded of readers happy, and the atmosphere created carries you along for a heart stopping ride. And if you are a fan of football, West Ham in particular, you will certainly have a smile on your face. The ending is satisfying and suggests a series has just been born and if that is the case, I will be extremely happy. I'm hoping we won't have to wait too long for the next instalment. Wonderful stuff.
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on 4 April 2013
London Falling by Paul Cornell

We begin this urban fantasy with two undercover policemen Costain and Sefton on an a case following around London's notorious gangster while he goes from derelict council house to house looking for something frantically.
When he is finally taken into custody we are introduce to Quill the policeman in charge, it's during this police interview that Rob Toshack slides up he wall and explodes! Not a usual interrogation.
With the help of Lisa Ross who has been listening to all the undercover recordings, they track down the house Toshack was looking for and when the soil on the floor is touched a power is released. With this new sight the four can see the unseen, ghosts and another world lying parallel to ours. We are now on the trial of the witch who killed Toshack. .
During which time secrets are revealed and more than meets the eye becomes the norm.
The use of London makes it seem like a character in its own right, and the imagery is excellent.

Loved this book a brilliant blend of police drama and fantasy. And finally a gay character who is not a girls bitchy best friend or a stereotype of any sort.

Hope there is a follow up soon
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VINE VOICEon 18 February 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
When leading drugs baron Rob Toshack dies mysteriously in a police interview room from no visible cause, DI James Quill is tasked with finding out what happened. His small team - Quill, two undercover cops and an analyst - quickly realise that there are supernatural forces at work. Magically, mysteriously, the team all acquire "the Sight" which allows them to glimpse some of what is going on ... but how do you go about stopping and arresting a person who has magical powers that you don't share?

As the story progresses the team all have to dig deep to find sources of strength inside themselves to enable them to unravel the mystery and track down their prey.

I don't normally read a lot of detective fiction, so some of the language / writing put me off a bit at first. But once the story got going, I was absolutely enthralled and found it hard to put the book down. The pace was right for me, and the characters interesting and realistic enough for the needs of the story.

The mix of urban fantasy / magical realism with detective novel worked well for me. I believe this book will be loved by anyone who enjoyed Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series.
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on 18 February 2013
Urban Fantasy set in London is ten a Penny at the moment. But this book has something extra. The witch of West Ham (SPOILERS AHEAD). A Crazy, phycopathic Witch who could have popped straight out of a Grimm's Tale. You've got to love any book where the central villain is going around killing any football player who scores a Hat Trick against her beloved West Ham Football club. The fact that she gets her power by boiling children in a cauldren is suitably gruesome, she even has a black cat.

The one issue I had was that this took a while to get going - but once it did it was definately worth the wait. The central cast of characters are interesting and it's a new tack to have such a flawed group as the focus. These are not your typical group of heroes and I am looking forward to seeing them each develop more. Splitting the view point between more than one character is also a nice change in the fast becoming over used trope of one point of view novels.

If you enjoy the likes of Sheldon, and Aaronovitch then definately give this ago. I am eagerly awaiting the next instalment.
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VINE VOICEon 1 January 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A fantastic blend of fantasy and magic with the crime thriller genre. Focusing on a squad of detectives involved in an investigation on crime lord Rob Toshak we seem to be joining the story as the investigation comes to its conclusion. Toshak is brought in and undercover police are debriefed but as Toshak is about to be interviewed the book takes a turn and goes into an unexpected fantasy direction.

The investigation effectively starts again taking it in a direction the police cant comprehend. The crux of the book is fantastic as we see the police entering a world they cant comprehend rooting themselves in their investigation and police work in order to understand this new world.

Full of startling twists and turns with a cracking plot it. The investigation feels like a spiral as we start at the edge not fully understanding what's going on and steadily getting deeper as the plot peels away layer after layer.

Oh and the blurb is correct, picked it up to read the first few pages and it was three hours later that I finally put it down.
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