Ben Aaronovitch’s urban-fantasy-meets-police-procedural Rivers of London series revolves around the exploits of police officer Peter Grant. There are now eight books in the main series, the most recent being False Value. But a while back, Aaronovitch found that the universe he had created was too big to only be contained in these novels and to have a single focus. So he branched out into graphic novels and novellas for shorter stories involving Grant and his associates. The most recent of these novellas is What Abigail Did That Summer, a book which fills in a period when Peter was off the scene (Foxglove Summer, Rivers of London book 5) and is narrated with verve by Peter’s precocious teenage niece Abigail.
The book opens with Abigail in a police station being questioned about the disappearance of some children. Before circling back to that scene, Abigail tells of the events that lead up to that cold open – of the mysterious disappearance and reappearance of teenagers on Hampstead Heath. Along the way she makes friends with a local boy called Simon and works with him and the local foxes to try and work out what is going on (readers of the series will already know about Abigail’s connection with the local talking foxes of London).
Abigail is only one of a great side cast of characters who now drop in and out of the Rivers of London series (both Peter’s boss Nightingale and the Goddess of the River Fleet make small cameo appearances in this book) but she is one of the best. Some knowledge of these characters and the world will heighten the experience but this is a stand alone, no deep knowledge of any other existing content is necessary. As with Aaronovitch’s other recent novella The October Man, which focussed on the magical community of Germany, it feels like What Abigail Did That Summer is a testing ground for longer form novels featuring the character. Based on this story, there is no doubt that any novels with Abigail at their centre would also be a hit with fans.