London Falling by Paul Cornell
|Book Name:||London Falling|
|Formatt:||Hardcover / Paperback / eBook|
|Release Date:||December 6, 2012 (UK) April 16, 2013 (US)|
London Falling, the first venture into dark fantasy for acclaimed Doctor Who and Demon Knights writer Paul Cornell, certainly lives up to the dark promise on display in “The Family of Blood.”
When the head of a notorious criminal gang inexplicably dies in custody, DI James Quill is assigned two undercover cops and a genius civilian intelligence analyst with a traumatic past to solve the case. But the men and woman working on Operation Toto are not tracking down any earthly foe, but an immortal witch with a nasty habit of boiling children and a passionate allegiance to West Ham FC. When a raid on the house of their chief suspect goes wrong, the four are gifted – or cursed – with the Sight, and a darker, hidden side of London is revealed. Armed with all the modern police methods at their disposal, the Toto team set out to track down Mora Losley before she can make good on her threat to kill the next man to score against West Ham. It’s match day, and the team each have a personal score to settle.
Coming over as a kind of London-centric X-Files, or Neverwhere colliding with The Bill, the novel draws heavily on the mythology of London in general and West Ham, with its links to Anne Boelyn, in particular. It’s this mix of modern and ancient, real life and legend, that gives the city, and consequently the book, its power. And it is dark. The descriptions of the children boiled alive in cauldrons and the literally visceral demise of one character at the hands on an angry mob, would not sit comfortably with the easily squicked-out.
The members of the Toto team are rounded characters – damaged Lisa, Costain who walks a fine line between cop and criminal, Sefton who embraces the Sight a little too hard, and Quill the glue that keeps them all together. Watching Quill unravel as the full horror of Losley’s evil is revealed to him is particularly traumatic. But Quill is an old-fashioned cop, and if anyone’s going to nick the Witch of West Ham, it’s going to be him.
The book does take a while to get going before the supernatural stuff kicks in, but the second half more than makes up for it in terms of pacing and drama. It powers through to a moving and bloody climax that could only have taken place, inevitably, at Upton Park, home of West Ham. The ending is left wide open for a sequel (already in the works, I hear), that will introduce another member to Quill’s little team of Sight-gifted cops, the thin blue line between the supernatural criminals that lurk in London’s underworld, and the oblivious public above.