15th Sep2017

‘Rivers of London: Detective Stories #4’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel | Art by Lee Sullivan | Published by Titan Comics


This arc has grown on me a little. Yes, it’s been a little mixed quality wise, but then again almost any central story told through multiple side tales always is. I quite like the ‘framing sequence with stories leading off it’ style, like the old DC horror comics for example. Instead of a host introducing each story though we have had the framing sequence of Peter’s interview for possible promotion to detective, during which he is sharing previous cases to his interviewer. Last issue’s story was especially good, taking detective noir to 1960’s Slough, a good tale told with tongue firmly in cheek.

This is the last story in the Detective Stories arc, and it is quite fitting that Lesley May features. Lesley, Peter’s previous partner who went bad after being disfigured, has cast quite the shadow over the book in general, and this arc in particular, and this case Peter is retelling is his very first. Him and Lesley were newly qualified PC’s, on the beat in Covent Garden (incidentally I spent far too many years drinking in the Punch and Judy Pub featured on that opening splash page) and based at Charing Cross station. We get a glimpse at their traditional police duties and role, and just how good they were at it. Peter especially was always going places.

As Peter recounts the various strands of his probation duties, routine arrests, ongoing work to trap a flasher, some detective work assigned by superiors clearly as a test, and remembrances of colleagues past and opportunities missed, everything always comes back round to Lesley May. Peter almost idolised her. She was as smart as Peter, as dedicated, but had a swagger and confidence that he lacked and aspired to. Self confidence would clearly come later. The cases, as you’d expect, were all wrapped up nicely but they, of course, weren’t the point. The point was the interview, and as a later celebratory barbecue shows, Peter’s promotion to Detective Constable. The boy done good.

What this arc showed was two things. One, that Peter is an interesting character full stop. The main selling point of this book is probably the magic, and this issue contained little more than a police procedural, yet Peter carries the story fantastically well. A great character written well. Secondly, Lesley May has been buzzing around as a presence since the Rivers of London comic book was launched, mostly in the background. This issue firmly establishes just how important Lesley was, and is, to Peter, and to the path that he took, the way he developed, and just how devastating Lesley’s later path was to him personally. Imagine your greatest friend becoming your nemesis, and blaming you for everything that had gone wrong in your life.

If there is a creator out there who loves his creations more than Ben Aaronovitch I would love to meet them, as the love for the characters and London itself just jumps off the page, every page. Andrew Cartmel seems as proud a stepdad as well, helping guide the comic book exploits, so I guess that would make artist Lee Sullivan and colourist Luis Guerrero the popular uncles. All make this book work. The character work this issue, and dialogue were superbly done, and Lee Sullivan’s photo referencing and layouts were outstanding. I have sometimes felt in the past Sullivan’s work a little flat at times, but this book would just not be the same without his art. He has created this world as much as the writers, and credit is due there. Nothing wrong with solid, dependable, and consistent.

Not the most dynamic of arc’s perhaps, but one that gave both great insight into Peter’s past and also one that developed him further by giving him his promotion. I’ll take that.

I defy you to find a book that makes you smile more than this one. Simply sublime.

**** 4/5


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