The October Man

The October Man

Trier is famous for wine, Romans and for being Germany’s oldest city. So when a man is found dead with, his body impossibly covered in a fungal rot, the local authorities know they are out of their depth.Fortunately this is Germany, where there are procedures for everything.Enter Investigator Tobias Winter, whose aim is to get in, deal with the problem, and get out with th...

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Title:The October Man
Author:Ben Aaronovitch
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The October Man Reviews

  • Mogsy (MMOGC)

    4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

    With Lies Sleeping ending with the final showdown between Peter Grant and his archnemesis the Faceless Man, bringing a seven-book story arc to a close, fans are wondering where the Rivers of London series will be going from here. Rumor is that Peter will be back, but in the meantime, we get to whet our appetites with a spinoff novella called The October Man.

    Providing readers with some much-needed breathing space following

    4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

    With Lies Sleeping ending with the final showdown between Peter Grant and his archnemesis the Faceless Man, bringing a seven-book story arc to a close, fans are wondering where the Rivers of London series will be going from here. Rumor is that Peter will be back, but in the meantime, we get to whet our appetites with a spinoff novella called The October Man.

    Providing readers with some much-needed breathing space following the intensity of all that Faceless Man action, this tale features a classic down-to-earth mystery taking place in the German city of Trier and introduces a new protagonist. Tobias Winter is an investigator for the Abteilung KDA, Germany’s own version of a supernatural crime fighting force similar to the Folly, and he is also one of the country’s few officially sanctioned magical practitioners. He arrives to the Mosel wine region after a suspicious death is reported in the area, teaming up with local police officer Vanessa Sommer to figure out what happened to the victim whose body was found covered in a grey fungus known as noble rot—an important infestation used in the process of making particularly fine and concentrated sweet wine.

    Magic may have killed the poor man, but it is good old-fashioned detective work leads our characters to a nearby vineyard owned by a woman named Jacky Stracker, whose family has had a long and interesting history of interacting with the surrounding genius loci. Their investigation also uncovers a connection between the victim and a peculiar drinking club whose members are a group of middle-aged friends holding weekly get-togethers to enjoy good wine and experience the culture and arts of Trier. With a history that stretches back to the time of Ancient Rome, Germany’s oldest city offers no shortage of suspects, both mundane and magical, and it is up to Winter and Sommer to crack the case before the killer can strike again.

    The October Man is a very well-constructed detective story, simple enough to be told in the span of a novella (granted, at more than two hundred pages, this one’s on the longer side) while still containing plenty of complexity to hold the reader’s attention. In addition, its pacing allows for plenty of fast-paced action and police work, but moments of downtime also provide opportunities to get to know our characters better. Despite being in a new setting and following a new protagonist, I was delighted to feel all the familiar attributes and the fine balance of Ben Aaronovitch’s writing style.

    And of course, the best part about this story was being able to see magic in another part of the world. Expanding the Rivers of London universe, Aaronovitch shows how other places have their own protective spirits and genius loci. He also explores the way magical crimes are investigated and handled in Germany, and it was interesting to contrast attitudes and procedures between Abteilung KDA and the Folly due to political and cultural differences. Trier itself is a fascinating setting, boasting rich architectural history and a lively social and art scene, all of which the author highlights with the same kind of passion and attention to detail he gives to the Peter Grant novels. I also loved how the story revolved around the region’s wine industry and incorporated the history and process of wine making into many threads of the plot.

    Perhaps my only criticism is Tobias Winter’s voice, which does not distinguish itself enough from Peter Grant’s. They sound so similar that I found myself frequently forgetting that we were supposed to be following a completely different protagonist, and only the occasional German brought me back. Although Tobias comes across as slightly more serious than Peter, to me it just seems there should be a greater distinction between their two personalities and narrative patterns, given their disparate backgrounds. That said, this can also be viewed as a positive, because if you enjoy the tone and style of the main series, then you should feel right at home with this one too.

    All in all, Ben Aaronovitch has delivered another fun and captivating Rivers of London mystery, The October Man being a novella and featuring a different setting and characters notwithstanding. I loved getting to meet Tobias and Vanessa, and it would thrill me greatly to see this corner of the series expanded with more stories in the future.

  • Obsidian

    So this was pretty cool. Instead of following Peter or Nightingale (why???) we follow another magic practitioner named Tobias Winter. Tobias is the equivalent to our Peter Grant in England, only Tobias operates in Germany. Tobias is working on a case that seems to involve wine, ghosts, and magic.

    Tobias's family seemed very interesting and I wanted to know more about his dad, mother, and the family's histor

    So this was pretty cool. Instead of following Peter or Nightingale (why???) we follow another magic practitioner named Tobias Winter. Tobias is the equivalent to our Peter Grant in England, only Tobias operates in Germany. Tobias is working on a case that seems to involve wine, ghosts, and magic.

    Tobias's family seemed very interesting and I wanted to know more about his dad, mother, and the family's history with policing. I did love the introduction of Vanessa and how she finds out about magic being real and that Tobias can do it. We even have a goddess in this one (seriously this series is lousy with goddesses, everyone is one it seems).

    I liked the narration though Tobias at times can sound a bit like Peter in my opinion.

    The flow was not that great though which is the main reason why I gave this four stars. The book stops and starts throughout. Usually in a Peter Grant story his voice is so forceful through the whole thing I don't notice the laggy bits as much. Or I probably do and it doesn't bother me as much.

    The book setting changing to Germany was a good idea. I honestly don't know much about German forklore/magic/spirits/etc. so it was pretty cool that this book revolved around that. I honestly didn't get a few words that were used though and felt a little bit confused here and there. Not often, but a little. There is also some discussion of the Nazis and Hitler and Hitler not being a revenant.

    I really got a kick out of the ending with Tobias and Vanessa finding out about the fact that there were more magic users out there in places like London (Peter and Nightingale), the French reopened something called The Academy, and now we know of Germany and the Abteilung KDA - the Department for Complex and Unspecific Matters.

  • Steven

    Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review!

    So this little gem of a novella takes place in the same world as the Rivers of London, but in Germany instead, and features a new main character in a similar role as Peter Grant there in Germany. The mystery/police procedural with magic worked well for this novel, and we got to meet a few new characters that I'd love to see make appearances in the main series novels.

    After the end of the

    Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review!

    So this little gem of a novella takes place in the same world as the Rivers of London, but in Germany instead, and features a new main character in a similar role as Peter Grant there in Germany. The mystery/police procedural with magic worked well for this novel, and we got to meet a few new characters that I'd love to see make appearances in the main series novels.

    After the end of the last main series novel, I was unsure as to where the series would be going. I'm even more excited now that I've seen a glimpse of a bigger magical world.

  • Denise

    Another enjoyable romp with magical, mythical bad guys and river goddesses! Only this time the story takes place in Germany with new characters. Interestingly the London practitioners, Nightingale and Peter Grant, are mentioned as peers/ possible rivals across the channel. Looks like Aaronovitch is setting up an international network of practitioners for future novels. I missed Peter and Beverly but overall enjoyed the new novella and look forward to the next chapter.

  • carol.

    You should always realize that my ratings for Ben Aaronovitch are relative to his own works; his Peter Grant series is generally five-star in comparison to any other urban fantasy. In this novella, he leaves Grant behind to follow Tobias Winter, a special agent in the special division for magical enforcement in Germany. Winter is relaxing at his parent's house when he gets a call about "possible infraction in Trier," which is official-speak for a potentially magic-related death. He is assigned a

    You should always realize that my ratings for Ben Aaronovitch are relative to his own works; his Peter Grant series is generally five-star in comparison to any other urban fantasy. In this novella, he leaves Grant behind to follow Tobias Winter, a special agent in the special division for magical enforcement in Germany. Winter is relaxing at his parent's house when he gets a call about "possible infraction in Trier," which is official-speak for a potentially magic-related death. He is assigned a liaison officer, Frau Sommer, and together they work to solve the mystery.

    It's an interesting idea, to base the concept of a story on the idea of a world and the police procedural structure, but to leave out any characters from the last seven books. Tobias needs to explain the whole 'magic' thing to Sommer, so a reader joining the world at this particular point would not be left out. In a way, that's a nice idea. For series fans, however, I'd say this will feel slightly disappointing, as there have been so many interesting characters throughout the seven books that I could name a handful that would be a lot of fun to explore. Kumar, from the Underground; the sword-wielding Li; Madame Tang; even, dare I say, more Abagail. I know he's been doing some of the exploration with the graphic novels (Guleed, Nightingale, Varvara, the River Twins), but those prove less character-expanding and more about the adventure.

    Tobias, unfortunately, felt largely like a watered-down Peter to me. Less funny, more methodical, prone to explaining but also still prone to methodological leaps. He gets a run and a cooking interlude to help distinguish himself. Sommer felt largely bland, with portentous hints.

    There's also a bit of German language sprinkled in. To be honest, I'm not sure why. It doesn't really give much of a sense of atmosphere, and since German isn't really a common language, it's largely incomprehensible. Here's one bit:

    "I joined the

    rather than the

    so Papa wouldn't be able to order me about at work." 

    or

    "Trier is not famous as a policing hotspot, having been voted Germany's Quaintest Town five years in a row in the poll of popular destinations conducted by the

    Sigh. Ben, Ben, Ben. You're missing the point of using non-English words in your writing when you are writing in English. You are supposed to be conveying the inexplicable, or a cultural idiom,

    This is going to sound grumpy, I suppose; but you should always assume that I like an Aaronovitch book and what I have to specify are the ways in which it wasn't a five-star read. The writing is clear and sophisticated. There's certainly weird bullocks, as Det. Seawoll would say, but it's used to good effect. Violence and gore for the sake of being thrilling and titillating is generally avoided, although there's certainly some more horrific elements here than what we've usually seen Peter deal with. A new kind of fae sneaks in, as well as more encounters with rivers. Plot moves reasonably fast, although typically twisty, once we get Tobias out to Trier. Setting is developed decently, and definitely feels different from London policing. 

    That said, I'd really prefer Grant & Co. There were just a couple of points where I laughed, one early on: 

    I was left feeling like I spent the day with Peter's older, less interesting brother. A decent story, but I missed the sense of fun.

  • Lorena

    I received a free ARC of this book from NetGalley

    This novella is the first in the Peter Grant series to not...really be about Peter Grant. (He gets mentioned in passing, as the Nightingale's apprentice, and everyone (and everydeity) agrees that Something Is Going On in Britain.) Instead, this story introduces Detective Tobias Winter, and takes place in Germany. Winter gets called in on a murder case in Trier, and quickly partners with a mundane police officer named Sommer (really), who doesn't s

    I received a free ARC of this book from NetGalley

    This novella is the first in the Peter Grant series to not...really be about Peter Grant. (He gets mentioned in passing, as the Nightingale's apprentice, and everyone (and everydeity) agrees that Something Is Going On in Britain.) Instead, this story introduces Detective Tobias Winter, and takes place in Germany. Winter gets called in on a murder case in Trier, and quickly partners with a mundane police officer named Sommer (really), who doesn't seem like she's going to stay mundane for long. Winter isn't quite as compelling a narrator as Peter, but there is some interesting information about what's been happening in Germany (magically speaking) since WWII, with the obvious implication that there's going to be more crossover and a wider universe for Peter to play around with in the future.

  • Faith

    The author has taken his urban fantasies to a new locale. This time the detective who searches for signs of magic at crime scenes is Tobias Winter and he’s in Germany. Unfortunately, he’s not as sharp or amusing as Peter Grant. The river goddess is also a pale imitation of her London counterparts. In truth, I didn’t not see the need to tell basically the same story about vestigia and river gods but just use a different country and character. I also found the plot confusing. One of the characters

    The author has taken his urban fantasies to a new locale. This time the detective who searches for signs of magic at crime scenes is Tobias Winter and he’s in Germany. Unfortunately, he’s not as sharp or amusing as Peter Grant. The river goddess is also a pale imitation of her London counterparts. In truth, I didn’t not see the need to tell basically the same story about vestigia and river gods but just use a different country and character. I also found the plot confusing. One of the characters seemed to have three different identities (or maybe not, it all got very fuzzy at the end). Also there were some editing errors, like a baby changing gender, that forced me to keep searching things in the book. The novella did hold my interest, but I hope the author sticks with Peter Grant. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

  • Judy Lesley

    I didn't know quite what to expect when I requested this novella through NetGalley, but I enjoy the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch so much I knew I wouldn't be sorry if I was approved for the galley. Coming in at 216 pages this is a long-ish novella but Aaronovitch packs it with a lot of detail about Tobias Winter and the case of magic he's investigating in Trier, Germany. A dead body has been found beside a river bordering a vineyard and the cause of death definitely has magical imp

    I didn't know quite what to expect when I requested this novella through NetGalley, but I enjoy the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch so much I knew I wouldn't be sorry if I was approved for the galley. Coming in at 216 pages this is a long-ish novella but Aaronovitch packs it with a lot of detail about Tobias Winter and the case of magic he's investigating in Trier, Germany. A dead body has been found beside a river bordering a vineyard and the cause of death definitely has magical implications.

    This new story (noted as being #7.5) has the same basic premise of crime, rivers and magic as the stories that take place in Britain but this time the focus is on the way the crime is investigated in Germany. The location is wonderfully depicted and the characters all have the right feeling to put your imagination right there in Germany as you read. Nightingale and Peter Grant are mentioned several times with a little bit of an us-versus-them attitude but mostly as major crime unit comparisons, Tobias and members of the German KDA (Komplexe und diffuse Angelegenheiten) don't seem to have met the English magic fighters.

    I enjoyed this quite a bit and it definitely has a German feel to it. Congratulations to Aaronovitch for getting that just right. It will be interesting to see if these two countries partner up to solve a crime together.

    Thank you to NetGalley and Subterranean Press for an eGalley of this novella.

  • Sue

    The world of magical policing is not limited to London. In The October Man, Ben Aaronovitch extends this magical universe to Germany while also providing his reading audience with further information on the international and historical scope of this world. Tobias Winter is the young officer in training who responds to an unusual death in Germany’s wine country, in Trier, an old, even ancient city, known to the Romans. And, in keeping with its setting, the victim has died due to a rot peculiar to

    The world of magical policing is not limited to London. In The October Man, Ben Aaronovitch extends this magical universe to Germany while also providing his reading audience with further information on the international and historical scope of this world. Tobias Winter is the young officer in training who responds to an unusual death in Germany’s wine country, in Trier, an old, even ancient city, known to the Romans. And, in keeping with its setting, the victim has died due to a rot peculiar to grapes.

    Obviously this is not a “normal” death so Tobias, accompanied by his local liaison officer, Vanessa Sommer, begins an investigation of the unusual aspects. During the course of the story, he also includes teaching Vanessa (and the readers) of the status of magical policing in Germany (Tobias and the Director), aspects of the history of magic in Germany, and how to get out of the way if magic is being used.

    I have read several of the Peter Grant/London Rivers novels and enjoyed them a lot. They are almost all witty and engaging, with interesting characters and stories. Here in this new setting with new characters of very different personalities the formula works differently. The attempts at humor are so dry as to blow away. I do miss the witty reparteeof Peter Grant etc always. But I did actually like the educational bits. Because of their German, continental focus, it contained new information and a different slant. Perhaps this German group will develop into a more interesting group with time.

    I definitely would be inclined to read about Tobias Winter again if Aaronovitch returns to this German setting. Maybe someday he could have magical police of all Europe work together against a major evil. After all, many of these mighty rivers flow through the entire continent.

    Probably 3.5*

    A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

  • Mimi

    IT'S GOT A COVER.

    from Gollanz

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