“Fresh, original, and a wonderful read. I loved it.” —Charlaine Harris “Midnight Riot is what would happen if Harry Potter grew up and joined the fuzz. A hilarious, keenly imagined caper.” —Diana Gabaldon “Filled with detail and imagination, a consummate story of real policing in a vividly real world intersecting the decidedly unreal. The quality of this achievement stands out,making Aaronovitch a name to watch.” —Peter F. Hamilton “An invocation to everything that is hidden, haunted, and forgotten in London, Midnight Riot is a ghost story with teeth. Aaronovitch crafts a tale with more twists than a foggy back alley, and I guarantee you’ll stay up all night reading.” —Caitlin Kittredge, author of the Black London series “A witty and inventive twist to urban fantasy.Hooked me with its charm. Reeled me in with its creepy violence. Wouldn’t let go until the last page.” —Mario Acevedo, author of Werewolf Smackdown
BALLANTINE BOOKS • NEW YORK
Yet ah! why should they know their fate? Since sorrow never comes too late, And happiness too swiftly ﬂies. Thought would destroy their paradise. No more; where ignorance is bliss, ’Tis folly to bewise. “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College” by Thomas Gray
IT STARTED at one thirty on a cold Tuesday morning in January when Martin Turner, street performer and, in his own words, apprentice gigolo, tripped over a body in front of the West Portico of St. Paul’s at Covent Garden. Martin, who was none too sober himself, at ﬁrst thought the body was thatof one of the many celebrants who had chosen the Piazza as a convenient outdoor toilet and dormitory. Being a seasoned Londoner, Martin gave the body the “London once-over”— a quick glance to determine whether this was a drunk, a crazy or a human being in distress. The fact that it was entirely possible for someone to be all three simultaneously is why goodSamaritanism in London is considered anextreme sport—like BASE jumping or crocodile wrestling. Martin, noting the good quality coat and shoes, had just pegged the body as a drunk when he noticed that it was in fact missing its head. As Martin noted, to the detectives conducting his interview, it was a good thing he’d been inebriated, because otherwise he would have wasted time screaming and running about—especially once he realized hewas standing in a pool of blood. Instead, with the slow methodical patience of the drunk and terriﬁed, Martin Turner dialed 999 and asked for the police. The police emergency center alerted the nearest Incident Response Vehicle and the ﬁrst ofﬁcers arrived on the scene six minutes later. One ofﬁcer stayed with a suddenly sober
Martin while his partner conﬁrmed that therewas a body and that, everything else being equal, it probably wasn’t a case of accidental death. They found the head six meters away where it had rolled behind one of the neoclassical columns that fronted the church’s portico. The responding ofﬁcers reported back to control, who alerted the area Murder Investigation Team, whose duty ofﬁcer, the most junior detective constable on the team, arrivedhalf an hour later. He took one look at Mr. Headless and woke his governor. With that, the whole pomp and majesty that is a Metropolitan Police murder investigation descended on the twenty-ﬁve meters of open cobbles between the church portico and the market building. The pathologist arrived to certify death, make a preliminary assessment of the cause and cart the body away for its postmortem.(There was a short delay while they found a big enough evidence bag for the head.) The forensic teams turned up mob-handed and, to prove that they were the important ones, demanded that the secure perimeter be extended to include the whole west end of the Piazza. To do this they needed more uniforms at the scene, so the DCI who was Chief Investigating Ofﬁcer called up Charing Cross nick and asked...