Peter Grant series review

Peter Grant

The Peter Grant novels are police procedural fantasy stories by Ben Aaronovitch. I bet you hadn’t expected ‘police procedural’ and ‘fantasy’ together when describing a novel.

Neither had I, but the novels are a lot of fun.


The Peter Grant stories are about a London Police Office named Peter Grant. One night, Peter runs into a ghost on patrol, and this leads him to be recruited into the magical branch of the London police, run by a wizard called Thomas Nightingale. The stories follow Peter along a series of investigations related to the world of magic.

The setting is an urban fantasy one: a mundane contemporary world with magical elements in it. The police procedural comes in with the police investigation part, and the fantasy comes in at the magical part. It’s a bit like the X-Files, British style.

World building

One of the problems you run into when world-building a story like this, is that the setting quickly becomes untenable if you’re not careful.

This is something that for example the newer Doctor Who series suffer from a lot: it becomes highly implausible that the general public is unaware of the existence of aliens and time travellers, given that they’ve been on television regularly. Yet the world seems largely unchanged. That’s of course a writing smell.

Ben Aaronovitch was clever enough to solve this by giving magic two major drawbacks: magic destroys electronics and magic causes brain damage. Excessive magic use would kill those wielding it and is thus rare, and they are never on television or youtube because a camera will be fried before it can record much.


I like urban fantasy, and so I liked the Peter Grant novels as well. Given that I like most things fantasy and science fiction, this doesn’t tell you much.

What I also like is the relative brevity – the books are not 1000 page tomes – and the police procedural part – who doesn’t like detective shows and books?

Martin Stellinga Written by:

I'm a science fiction and fantasy author/blogger from the Netherlands