The Hanging Tree is the sixth novel in the Rivers of London series featuring PC Peter Grant and the Folly – the Met Police’s little-loved organisation called in to investigate crimes with a magical element.
It’s fair to say that new readers should probably not start here. There is a lot of referring back to previous cases and also developments in the main story arc, so although it would be possible to read this as a standalone a first-time reader would miss so much of the richness that is one of the pleasures of the series.
So, Peter is back in London and has been pulled into the investigation of a young woman’s drug-related death at a party in an expensive flat in Mayfair. Not normally his kind of thing in policing terms, but River Goddess Lady Ty’s daughter is involved in some way and so favours are being called in. It quickly becomes clear that magic is involved; the young woman shows signs of being a magical practitioner. Cue the usual mayhem and double-dealing, especially when the Americans get involved.
There is a lot to be enjoyed in this novel. As always, Peter’s first person narration of the story really works and doesn’t suffer from the problems other first person stories often have. It also helps that his voice is distinctive and often very funny. All of the supporting characters are well-rounded and recognisable as individuals. And the ongoing story of the series’ Mega Villain (The Faceless Man) gets a major development that is both very satisfying and augurs well for future volumes.
The only quibble I have, which I’ve seen mentioned by other reviewers, is that there is insufficient Nightingale. But then I always think that’s the case…..
We all had to wait a long time for The Hanging Tree, but because I delayed reading it I already have the next volume (plus the novella released in between, and the comics) to hand, though I think I’ll space them out over 2019.
If you are a long-time reader of this series you won’t be disappointed.