Trier is Germany’s oldest city, famous for its Roman history and more importantly, its winemaking prestige. It’s also the setting of a murder, which is why Investigator Tobias Winters is despatched there to investigate the suspicious death of Jörg Koch (who is an apparent victim of a potentially felonious fungus) in a local vineyard. To help him unravel a mystery most magical, he enlists the aid of local cop Vanessa Sommer (insert seasonal pun here).
Pitched as a ‘Rivers Of London Novella’ The October Man feels like we have taken a short holiday from Peter Grant (the detective at the core of the Rivers novels) and travelled to a foreign land where problems are just as magical, only delivered in a different accent. There is a joyous familiarity to Aaronovitch’s writing, meaning that fans of the series will delight in seeing how unexplainable events are dealt with in the Rhineland, without ever feeling like they left Grant or London behind.
Aaronovitch continues to develop his well-crafted magical alternate/fantasy history backdrop with his usual level of attention to detail. Familiar geographical and historical touchstones are cleverly rolled away, leaving you with a non-fiction reading list that will keep you curious long after you’ve closed the last page.
There’s always a risk when exploring German history but The October Man sidesteps the cliché of Nazis and their penchant for magic by exploring classical history instead. The characters are at once likeable and engaging and their sensibilities are endeared with Germanic stereotypes of efficiency and a love of procedure without ever being callous or mean-spirited.
The October Man is an enjoyable jaunt to the Continent that leaves you hoping that the Rivers Of London series will be packing its bags to take us on another outing to a new destination around the globe soon.
The October Man is out now from Gollancz.