The Next Story In The Rivers Of London Series: "False Value" - Disappointment Or Joy?

"False Value" is the 8th part of the Rivers of London series. This time the Serious Cybernetics Corporation takes the spot light. Behind those walls might be a secret and dangerous technology that could provide to be dangerous in the wrong hands. Of course, a millionaire who has concerning ties with the Russians might not have best interest in mind. So Peter Grant is sent to discover the truth, as in order to do so, he has to work undercover ... 

False Value by Ben Aaronovitch

As the plot already suggest, this story relies heavily on being tech-savy and knowing your way around the geek world. However, not just your regular PC user who knows what an USB is and how to replace RAM. Instead, you need to be aware of a very specific niche. The most obvious are The Hitchiker's Guide references - a book that I enjoyed - which are obvious and if anyone is relatively familiar with pop-culture they should not miss them.

However, the plot revolves a lot around technology and technobabble just to explain this and that throughout the story. Those were time where my eyes became unfocused, and the words pinged off my eyes not settling. In fact, I am not sure if  Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage were real people, and I was not inspired to figure out either until I wrote this review - they were real people. In the end, this just proved to be name dropping, and someone who is deep into mathematics and IT would enjoy a reference here and there - the same way someone who likes Hitchhiker's would. Nevertheless, the passages of technobabble were so long, and in the end irrelevant to the actual plot (wow, artificial intelligence). 

The problem of too much information, sadly, shows through most of the book. There are two new players, and, of course, you can't leave out anyone from the prior novels or an event from the past is mentioned in passing. So while reading you have to dig through some dark places in your brain to figure out "ah yes, this was this case right? But was it the same as the other here? Maybe I should look it up in the Rivers of London Wikia." Which did interrupt the flow at times; people were re-introduced in a short paragraph which made it easier from time to time. So it would be harder for new readers, or people who don't know the stories by heart to get into the book easily. 

This certain messiness and being all over the place, was especially visible at the beginning. There Aaronovitch chose to go for a split narrative. So you where wondering "wait, did Peter really get fired from the police and looking for a new job? No wait, he's still looking at magical stuff. Here he is still part of the police force?" 

A split narrative with one side being in the "present" and the other as flashbacks can work very well, but the chapters were not marked as such. It added to the confusion. Otherwise, the approach was new to the series - so naturally, I am a little inclined to being cautious but aside from the lack of timestamp I can't complain and it worked out by providing the information without spoiling. 

Nevertheless, what makes this series great is the way Peter tells a story: with wit, sarcasm and a healthy dose of cynicism. This is not missing here but the dose is a little subdued - or maybe I just did not understand all those references. 

In fact, Peters appears to be a bit more grown-up which is just as well as he enters into a new chapter with his partner and local river goddess: Bev. They have much softer moments than before, and reading how Peters has to join in on pregnancy exercises is funny. It was the first time that their relationship felt more serious and comfortable. But it only took up a minor part of the book. 

"False Value" also took a closer look at what the Magic World looks like across the pond. Those were only scratches on the surface but given the distrust between the police and the average American citizen - it felt logical and believable. In fact, I would not be surprised to see an "in-between" book similar to October Man that deals with the Americans. 

In the end, "False Value" is disappointing. The plot is more confusing than thrilling but it provides some new ideas and insight into the world of Rivers of London. As well as having Peter's natural humour and, lucky for me, more Nightingale than prior. 

False Value by Ben Aaronovitch
Published2020by Gollancz
Series:Rivers of London#8
ISBN13: 9780756416461
Goodreads:Add to shelf


  1. This doesn't sound like my kind of genre, to be honest, and it's a shame that too much technological content detracted from the story. I always find it hard to write a less than enthusiastic review, so thank you for being so honest!

    1. Thank you for commenting! I always try to be honest when reviewing :)


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