Ben Aaronovitch

British author and screenwriter (born 1964)

Ben Dylan Aaronovitch (born February 1964) is an English author and screenwriter.

Ben Aaronovitch signing his new book at Forbidden Planet on 10 November 2014.

Quotes edit

Rivers of London (2011; American edition title: Midnight Riot) edit

All page numbers are from the American mass market first edition, ISBN 978-0-345-52425-6, 4th printing
  • Could it have been anyone, or was it destiny? When I’m considering this I find it helpful to quote the wisdom of my father, who once told me, “Who knows why the fuck anything happens?”
    • Chapter 1, “Material Witness” (pp. 2-3)
  • I wasn’t ready to believe in ghosts, but that’s the thing about empirical experience: it’s the real thing.
    • Chapter 2, “Ghost Hunting Dog” (p. 26)
  • She had the startled rabbit look that civilians get after five minutes of helping the police with their inquiries. If they stay calm for too long it’s a sign that they’re professional villains or foreign or just plain stupid. All of which can get you locked up if you’re not careful. If you find yourself talking to the police, my advice is to stay calm but look guilty; it’s your safest bet.
    • Chapter 2, “Ghost Hunting Dog” (p. 38)
  • “I’ve been told to take the day off,” said Leslie. “Compassionate—don’t get on media’s radar—leave.”
    That I could understand. A family annihilation involving charismatic rich people was going to be a news editor’s dream story. Once they’d picked over the gruesome details, they could extend the mileage by asking what the tragic death of the Coopertown family told us about our society and how this tragedy was an indictment of modern culture/secular humanism/political correctness/the situation in Palestine—delete where applicable. About the only thing that could improve the story would be the involvement of a good-looking blonde WPC out, I might add, unsupervised on a dangerous assignment.
    • Chapter 3, “The Folly” (p. 59)
  • Questions would be asked. Answers would be ignored.
    • Chapter 3, “The Folly” (p. 59)
  • It’s a bland box of a building built in the 1970s; it was considered to be so lacking in architectural merit that there was talk of listing it so that it could be preserved for posterity as an awful warning.
    • Chapter 5, “Action at a Distance” (p. 92)
  • My hand was shaking a little and the pin proved harder to pull than I expected—I guess that’s a safety feature on a grenade.
    • Chapter 5, “Action at a Distance” (p. 101)
  • I’m not a peacock, but on occasion I like to dress to impress, although like most coppers I don’t wear much in the way of bling. The rule being never wear something around your neck that you don’t want to be strangled with.
    • Chapter 6, “The Coach House” (p. 128)
  • “Your father,” I said. “What does he really want?”
    “What any father wants,” said Oxley. “The respect of his children.”
    I nearly said that not all fathers were worthy of respect, but I managed to keep my gob shut and anyway not everyone had a dad like mine.
    • Chapter 7, “The Puppet Fayre” (p. 143)
  • As a typical Londoner, Gurcan had a high tolerance threshold for random thoughtlessness; after all, if you live in the big city there’s no point complaining that it’s a big city, but even that tolerance has its limit.
    • Chapter 7, “The Puppet Fayre” (p. 150)
  • Sometimes when someone tells you not to go somewhere, it’s better not to go there.
    • Chapter 9, “The Judas Goat” (p. 189)
  • “Do you have another plan?” I asked.
    “No,” said Leslie. “I just want you to be careful. Just because you think you know what you’re doing doesn’t mean you actually know what you’re doing.”
    “I’m glad we clarified that,” I said.
    • Chapter 9, “The Judas Goat” (p. 192)
  • There we continued the time-honored tradition of brazenly lying through our teeth while telling nothing but the truth.
    • Chapter 10, “The Blind Spot” (p. 210)
  • Apparently he was a bit of a connoisseur, having been introduced to Verdi soon after having risen to the rank of commander. A sudden attack of culture snobbery is a common affliction among policemen of a certain rank and age; it’s like a normal midlife crisis, only with more chandeliers and foreign languages.
    • Chapter 10, “The Blind Spot” (p. 210)
  • Nobody likes a riot except looters and journalists.
    • Chapter 12, “The Last Resort” (p. 245)
  • Nobody had a clue what had happened, so the pundits were out in force, explaining how the riot was caused by whatever sociopolitical factor their latest book was pushing. It was certainly a searing indictment of some aspect of modern society—if only we knew what.
    • Chapter 12, “The Last Resort” (p. 268)
  • Given that he was writing in the late eighteenth century, I like to cut him slack.
    • Chapter 13, “London Bridge” (p. 271)
  • “Lives to act, poor thing, it’s all he ever wanted out of life.”
    “Except he’s dead,” I said.
    “I know,” said Mr. Punch. “Isn’t the universe wonderful.”
    • Chapter 13, “London Bridge” (p. 280)
  • “Have you ever been to London?” I asked.
    “No,” said Ash. “I’ve never even been in town before. Our dad doesn’t hold with that sort of thing.”
    “Don’t worry, it’s basically just like the country,” I said. “Only with more people.”
    • Chapter 14, “The Job” (p. 298; closing words)

Moon Over Soho (2011) edit

All page numbers are from the American mass market first edition, ISBN 978-0-345-52459-1, 3rd printing
  • Men have died for this music. You can’t get more serious than that.
    Dizzy Gillespie
    • Epigram
  • It’s a sad fact of modern life that if you drive long enough, sooner or later you must leave London behind.
    • Chapter 1, “Body and Soul” (p. 1)
  • “You can’t die of jazz,” said Dr. Walid. “Can you?”
    I thought of Fats Navarro, Billie Holiday, and Charlie Parker who, when he died, was mistaken by a coroner for a man twice his real age.
    “You know,” I said, “I think you’ll find you can.”
    • Chapter 1, “Body and Soul” (p. 10)
  • “Cyrus was a musician?” I asked.
    “He played the alto sax.”
    “And he played jazz?”
    Another brief smile. “Is there any other kind of music?”
    • Chapter 1, “Body and Soul” (p. 12)
  • Why would someone use magic to kill a jazz musician in the middle of his set? I mean, I have my problems with the New Thing and the rest of the atonal modernists but I wouldn’t kill someone for playing it–at least not if I wasn’t trapped in the same room.
    • Chapter 1, “Body and Soul” (p. 19)
  • “You shouldn’t make jokes about these things,” she said. “Science doesn’t have all the answers, you know.”
    “It’s got all the best questions, though.”
    • Chapter 2, “The Spice of Life” (p. 35)
  • When you’re a musician free is a magic number.
    • Chapter 3, “A Long Drink of the Blues” (p. 45)
  • The police can live with looking corrupt, bullying, or tyrannical, but looking stupid is intolerable. It has a tendency to undermine public faith in the forces of Law and is deleterious to public order.
    • Chapter 4, “One-Tenth of My Ashes” (p. 64)
  • I rang her and left a message identifying myself and giving an impression of urgency without actually saying anything concrete. Never record anything you wouldn’t want turning up on YouTube is my motto.
    • Chapter 4, “One-Tenth of My Ashes” (p. 75)
  • Five hundred years ago the notoriously savvy Henry VIII discovered an elegant way to solve both his theological problems and his personal liquidity crisis—he dissolved the monasteries and nicked all their land. Since the principle of any rich person who wants to stay rich is, never give anything away unless you absolutely have to, the land has stayed with Crown ever since.
    • Chapter 4, “One-Tenth of My Ashes” (p. 76)
  • “There’s more to life than just London,” said Nightingale.
    “People keep saying that,” I said. “But I’ve never actually seen any proof.”
    • Chapter 5, “The Night Gate” (p. 86)
  • “The world was different before the war,” he said. “We didn’t have this instantaneous access to information that your generation has. The world was a bigger, more mysterious place—we still dreamed of secret caves in the Mountains of the Moon, and tiger hunting in the Punjab.”
    • Chapter 5, “The Night Gate” (pp. 87-88)
  • Ghosts, I was thinking, memories—I wasn’t sure there was a difference.
    • Chapter 5, “The Night Gate” (p. 97)
  • The difference between stripping and burlesque, as far as I could tell, was class.
    • Chapter 6, “The Empress of Pleasure” (p. 121)
  • I’m an old-fashioned copper–I don’t believe in breaking the laws of thermodynamics.
    • Chapter 7, “Almost Like Being in Love” (p. 141)
  • Blackstone’s Police Operational Handbook recommends the ABC of serious investigation: Assume nothing, Believe nothing, and Check everything.
    • Chapter 8, “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” (p. 152)
  • “Do you feel guilty?”
    “No,” I said. “I didn’t do it to them and I did my best to stop it. But I feel guilty that I don’t feel guilty, if that helps.”
    • Chapter 8, “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” (p. 154)
  • “The chicken in that is embalmed, dried and pressed very flat, and then sprinkled with extra chemicals,” she said.
    “Too hungry to care,” I said.
    • Chapter 9, “The Forcing House” (p. 180)
  • “The old days,” said Smith. “Isn’t that what you’re asking about? Because I was a respectable businessman.”
    “But Smithy,” said Stephanopoulis. “I don’t believe in respectable businessmen. I’ve been a copper for more than five minutes. And the constable here doesn’t think you’re respectable either, because it happens he is a card-carrying member of the Workers’ Revolutionary Party and so regards all forms of property as a crime against the proletariat.”
    That one caught me by surprise and the best I could manage was “Power to the people.”
    • Chapter 9, “The Forcing House” (p. 183)
  • As property prices started rising, developers snatched up bomb sites and derelict buildings and erected the shapeless concrete lumps that have made the ’70s the shining beacon of architectural splendor that it is.
    • Chapter 9, “The Forcing House” (p. 194)
  • “Shouldn’t I know about these things?” I said.
    “The list of things you need to know about, Peter, is extraordinarily long,” said Nightingale.
    • Chapter 10, “Funland” (p. 207)
  • First law of gossip—there’s no point knowing something if somebody else doesn’t know you know it.
    • Chapter 11, “Those Foolish Things” (p. 239)
  • Anything that can go wrong with armed men in the light can go twice as wrong in the dark.
    • Chapter 12, “It Don’t Mean a Thing” (p. 265)
  • Have you noticed that about journalists—all they really want to talk about is themselves.
    • Chapter 13, “Autumn Leaves” (p. 273)
  • It’s no fun looking down on people if you can’t let them know you’re above them.
    • Chapter 13, “Autumn Leaves” (p. 273)
  • There were screams and yells from the street below as people saw what was happening. There would be lots of phone-camera footage on the news that night from people with more media-savvy than brains.
    • Chapter 13, “Autumn Leaves” (p. 275)
  • It’s always better to tell a half-truth than a half-lie.
    • Chapter 13, “Autumn Leaves” (p. 277)
  • “If they were ugly, Peter, would you care half so much?” asked Nightingale. “There are some hideous things out there that can talk and reason, and I wonder if you would be quite so quick to rush to their defense.”
    “Maybe not,” I said. “But that just makes me shallow, it doesn’t make me wrong.”
    • Chapter 13, “Autumn Leaves” (p. 279)

Whispers Under Ground (2012) edit

All page numbers are from the American mass market first edition, ISBN 978-0-345-52461-4, 1st printing
  • Back in the summer I’d made the mistake of telling my mum what I did for a living. Not the police bit, which of course she already knew about, having been at my graduation from Hendon, but the stuff about me working for the branch of the Met that dealt with the supernatural. My mum translated this in her head to “witchfinder,” which was good because like most West Africans, she considered witchfinding a more respectable profession than policeman.
    • Chapter 1, “Tufnell Park” (p. 1)
  • Like young men from the dawn of time, I decided to choose the risk of death over certain humiliation.
    • Chapter 1, “Tufnell Park” (p. 5)
  • So just chalk it up to pixie dust or quantum entanglement, which was the same thing as pixie dust except with the word “quantum” in it.
    • Chapter 1, “Tufnell Park” (p. 9)
  • “The scope of your ignorance, Peter,” said Seawoll, “is truly frightening.”
    • Chapter 2, “Baker Street” (p. 27)
  • “Is that your professional opinion?”
    “Which as usual,” said Seawoll, “is as about as useful as a chocolate teapot.”
    • Chapter 2, “Baker Street” (p. 28)
  • “He did some drugs at university,” I said. “Isn’t that what it’s for?”
    • Chapter 9, “Shepherd’s Bush Market” (p. 98)
  • Low sample size—one of the reasons why magic and science are hard to reconcile.
    • Chapter 10, “Russell Square” (p. 106)
  • “It’s one of those paradox thingies,” I said. “What happens when the unstoppable cook meets the unfillable stomach?”
    • Chapter 10, “Russell Square” (p. 107)
  • All diplomatic cars have distinctive plates that indicate status and nationality, for the ease and convenience of terrorists and potential kidnappers.
    • Chapter 14, “Westbourne Park” (p. 148)
  • I looked at Lesley—surely nobody could really be that stupid? She shrugged. Lesley has a much lower opinion of humanity than I do.
    • Chapter 14, “Westbourne Park” (p. 153)
  • You don’t actually know enough about me to insult me properly.
    • Chapter 14, “Westbourne Park” (p. 156)
  • Was it better to die in the illusion of sunshine and warmth or face death in a cold darkness of reality? Was it better to die in happy ignorance or terrified knowledge? The answer, if you’re a Londoner, is that it’s better not to die at all.
    • Chapter 21, “Oxford Circus” (p. 224)
  • A lot of people have died in the Underground, through accidents, stupidity, or suicide. All the one-unders who'

s dying wish had been to make other people late for work.

    • Chapter 21, “Oxford Circus” (p. 226)
  • “I want assurances,” said Zach.
    “You can have my word,” I said.
    “No disrespect, Peter,” he said, “but I don’t want a promise from the monkey, I want it from the organ grinder.”
    • Chapter 24, “Sloane Square” (p. 250)
  • “Fortunately,” said Nightingale, “seeing isn’t always believing.”
    • Chapter 25, “Ladbroke Grove” (p. 261)
  • It was a good plan, and like all plans since the dawn of time, this would fail to survive contact with real life.
    • Chapter 25, “Ladbroke Grove” (p. 262)
  • As Conan the Barbarian famously said, “That which does not kill us does not kill us.”
    • Chapter 25, “Ladbroke Grove” (p. 262)
  • Half-caste, I thought. I hadn’t heard that one in a while. Not since Mum fell out with Aunty Doris, who having grown up in Jamaica in the 1950s regarded political correctness as something that happened to other people.
    • Chapter 25, “Ladbroke Grove” (p. 266)

Broken Homes (2013) edit

All page numbers are from the first American mass market edition, published by Daw Books, ISBN 978-0-7564-0960-9, 9th printing
  • Dedication: This book is dedicated to all the people who get up and do something about it, whatever "it" is and however small the thing is they do.
  • It’s a police mantra that all members of the public are guilty of something, but some members of the public are more guilty than others.
    • Chapter 1, “Perfectly Human Monsters” (pp. 3-4)
  • We did not tell him we were witch hunting, as that sort of thing tends to cause alarm.
    • Chapter 1, “Perfectly Human Monsters” (p. 9)
  • Technically, you don't have to have a corpse to convict for murder but detectives always feel better when they've found your actual victim—they're superstitious like that.
    • Chapter 1, “Perfectly Human Monsters” (pp. 9-10)
  • Keeping a secret always makes the police suspicious. And while we’re willing to believe in the possibility of a totally innocent explanation, we never think that’s the way to bet.
    • Chapter 3, “The One Under” (p. 52)
  • Charing Cross Road was once the bookselling heart of London and disreputable enough to avoid the multinational chains in their unceasing quest to turn every street of every city into a clone of every other.
    • Chapter 4, “Complex and Unspecified Matters” (pp. 60-61)
  • I didn’t bother calling Nightingale on the mobile I’d got him for Christmas because he only turns it on when he wants to call someone—the new technology being strictly there for his convenience, not anybody else’s.
    • Chapter 5, “The Locksmith” (p. 77)
  • Most people don’t see half of what’s in front of them. Your visual cortex does a shit load of imaging processing before the signal even gets to your brain, whose priorities are still checking the ancestral savannah for dangerous predators, edible berries and climbable trees. That’s why a sudden cat in the night can make you jump and some people when distracted, can walk right out in front of a bus. Your brain just isn’t interested in those large moving chunks of metal or the static heaps of brightly colored stuff that piles up in drifts around us. Never mind all that, says your brain, it’s those silent fur-covered merchants of death you’ve got to watch out for.
    • Chapter 5, “The Locksmith” (pp. 78-79)
  • You don’t get to be a senior investigating officer unless you have a degree in skepticism, an MA in distrust and your CV lists suspicious bastard under your hobbies.
    • Chapter 5, “The Locksmith” (p. 81)
  • Nightingale had taught me to be cautious of the early sources. “A great deal of it is accurate,” he said. “And a great deal is less so. Unfortunately it can be difficult to determine which is which.”
    • Chapter 9, “The Night Witch” (p. 138)
  • Landscaping is the great cardinal sin of modern architecture. It’s not your garden, it’s not a park—it’s a formless patch of grass, shrubbery and the occasional tree that exists purely to stop the original developer’s plans from looking like a howling concrete wilderness.
    • Chapter 12, “Sky’s Garden” (pp. 183-184)
  • The narrow hallway was lined with framed photographs while the far end was dominated by a faux movie poster for Gone with the Wind starring Ronald Reagan sweeping Margaret Thatcher off her feet while a mushroom cloud bloomed behind them. She promised to follow him to the end of the world. He promised to organize it.
    • Chapter 13, “The Back of the Lorry” (p. 206)
  • “You know how some people work at being stupid?” she asked. “If you give them a clear, common sense choice they give it a lot of thought and then choose stupid.”
    • Chapter 14, “Something Missing” (p. 230)
  • Even hardened professional villains consent to be policed. This is clear from the way they complain that nonces, rapists and bankers get shorter sentences than decent ordinary criminals. It’s the same with all the other criminals, the weekend shoplifters, the drunk drivers, the overexcited protesters and executives who pop in to the loo for a quick snort. When it’s their stuff that goes walkies, or their car that’s damaged, when their kids go missing and their briefcases gets snatched, they all seem to be pretty consensual about the police. Everyone consents to the police. It’s just the operational priorities they argue about.
    • Chapter 16, “The Puppy Farm” (pp. 260-261)

Foxglove Summer (2014) edit

All page numbers are from the first American mass market edition, published by Daw Books, ISBN 978-0-7564-0966-1, 8th printing
  • I find you get two types of police, those that don’t want to know and those that do. Unfortunately, dealing with things you don’t want to know about is practically a definition of policing.
    • Chapter 2, “Mutual Aid” (p. 30)
  • His big claim to fame, beyond writing the first ever vampire novel, is his work attempting to classify where whatever it is that powers magic comes from. He called it potentia because there’s nothing quite like Latin for disguising the fact you’re making it up as you go along.
    • Chapter 3, “Operational Flexibility” (p. 55)
  • We were pretty certain we knew roughly where he’d been, but members of the public have an unnerving tendency to switch straight from lying to your face to telling you what they think you want to hear—with no intervening period of veracity at all.
    • Chapter 5, “Customer Facing” (pp. 103-104)
  • Nightingale says that conspiracies of silence are the only kind of conspiracies that stand the test of time.
    • Chapter 5, “Customer Facing” (p. 107)
  • I am a goddess, Peter, a creature of temperament and whimsy. I’m supposed to be arbitrary and mercurial—it’s practically my job description.
    • Chapter 7, “Enhanced Interrogation” (p. 147)
  • “Come on then,” yelled Beverley, for whom de-escalation was something that happened to other people.
    • Chapter 8, “Proactive Measures” (p. 172)
  • “How about this then, Peter,” she said. “You’ve been part of something that no wizard has ever been part of before. You know something that’s not in their books.”
    I wanted to say that lots of things weren’t in the libraries of the wise, including plate tectonics, molecular biology and the complete works of J. K. Rowling. But she’d probably say that I was missing the point.
    • Chapter 10, “Intelligence Led” (pp. 202-203)
  • Taking a statement from anyone can be a long process on account of the fact that your average member of the public wouldn’t know the truth if it donned a pink tutu and danced in front of them singing the Chicken Song.
    • Chapter 10, “Intelligence Led” (p. 204)
  • One of the advantages of being the police is that when you want to buy something slightly dodgy, you generally know where to shop.
    • Chapter 12, “Passive Data Strategy” (p. 229)
  • “Any abductions?” I asked.
    “Loads,” he said. “But none verified.”
    • Chapter 12, “Passive Data Strategy” (p. 230)
  • “Of course now I realize it was a telepathic compulsion.”
    I was afraid to ask from who—but I had to know.
    “From aliens,” she told me.
    “I’m not mad, you know,” she said. “I’ve been sectioned. They put me in for four weeks’ ‘evaluation’ and at the end the top shrink calls me into her office and looks me in the eye and says, ‘you’re saner than I am—go away.’”
    “Did you tell them about the aliens?” I asked.
    “I may have glossed over some of the details,” she said.
    • Chapter 12, “Passive Data Strategy” (p. 238)
  • The Daily Mail had the scoop but the media had caught the smell of blood in the water and twenty-four-hour news outlets were running the bulletin every half an hour, with a teaser on the quarter in case your attention span was that short.
    • Chapter 13, “Operational Compartmentalization” (p. 251)
  • “They’ve got me reviewing statements during the initial investigation,” he said. “Occasionally I punch myself in the face to keep awake.”
    • Chapter 13, “Operational Compartmentalization” (p. 262)
  • “So the moon effects magic, why?”
    “I’m working on several theories,” I said. “But I’m currently favoring the hypothesis that the moon has a seemingly arbitrary effect on magic because it likes to piss me off.”
    “That’s a theory with a high degree of applicability to other spheres of life,” he said.
    • Chapter 15, “Window of Opportunity” (p. 292)
  • This was the Wyldewood, spelt with a Y, that once covered the Island of Britain and would again, once the pesky tool-using primates had done the decent thing and exterminated themselves.
    • Chapter 16, “Going Forward” (p. 316)
  • I’ll say this for the Queen. She was brave—or possibly stupid. It’s easy to mistake the two.
    • Chapter 16, “Going Forward” (p. 320)
  • “I’ve loaded this particular gun with scrap iron,” she said. “Now, I don’t know if a shot to the head will kill you or not. But just consider how much fun we can have finding out.”
    • Chapter 16, “Going Forward” (p. 321)

The Hanging Tree (2016) edit

All page numbers are from the first American mass market edition, published by Daw Books, ISBN 978-0-7564-0967-8, 1st printing
  • Dedication: This book is dedicated to all librarians everywhere—for they are the true keepers of the secret flame and not to be trifled with.
  • Now, I have - as Beverley says - views about architecture. But there's modern stuff I like. The Gherkin, the Lloyd's Building, even the Shard - despite the nagging feeling I get that Nazgûl should be roosting at the top. But the truth is that in the case of One Hyde Park my boy Sir Roger was definitely just putting in the hours for the pay check. It's not ugly as's just not anything in particular.
    • Chapter 1, "One of Sir Roger's Lesser Works" (p. 5)
  • In home furnishing terms, past a certain point, more money doesn’t get you anything except an increase in insurance premiums.
    • Chapter 1, “One of Sir Roger’s Lesser Works” (p. 7)
  • I considered lying for all of about two nano-seconds, but I don’t have a death wish—not even a figurative one. Of course, philosophically speaking, truth is a slippery concept and one should always be alive to nuance.
    • Chapter 1, “One of Sir Roger’s Lesser Works” (pp. 8-9)
  • God, money is so wasted on the rich.
    • Chapter 1, “One of Sir Roger’s Lesser Works” (p. 12)
  • For police officers, “close relative” frequently rhymes with “prime suspect.”
    • Chapter 3, “Driving While Cheerful” (p. 34)
  • There’s nothing like having your girlfriend talk in geological time to make you feel insignificant.
    • Chapter 3, “Driving While Cheerful” (p. 42)
  • From a policing point of view, guns are a pain. Once someone is known to be tooled up, your operational priorities are suddenly fucked up. It all becomes about managing whoever was stupid enough to pull a gun in central London and your number one priority is public safety, followed closely by officer safety and then, not so closely, by the safety of the moron with the gun.
    • Chapter 4, “Obligatory Audience Participation” (p. 68)
  • The ABC of policing literally goes: Assume nothing, Believe no-one, Check everything.
    • Chapter 5, “Mother’s Little Helper” (p. 77)
  • And having made sure my attention was focused in one direction the universe, which likes a good laugh, smacked me in the face from the other side.
    • Chapter 5, “Mother’s Little Helper” (p. 88)
  • The media always calls this sort of thing senseless, but the motive made sense—it was just stupid, is what it was.
    • Chapter 7, “The Intrepid Fox” (p. 112)
  • After a slow start the police have taken to mobile technology in a big way—mainly because it means you can pretend to work anywhere: at home, the canteen, the local boozer.
    • Chapter 8, “Uninvited Guests” (p. 132)
  • Police doctrine is, even if you’re waiting for someone to do something violent to your suspect, you should de-escalate the situation because at the very least a peaceful solution produces a ton less paperwork.
    • Chapter 8, “Uninvited Guests” (p. 140)
  • The main purpose of an administrative meeting is to establish collective guilt for whatever fuck-up arises out of its decisions.
    • Chapter 9, “The Tiger Hunting Committee” (p. 150)
  • Ask not for whom the buck stops, I thought, it stops for thee.
    • Chapter 9, “The Tiger Hunting Committee” (p. 150)
  • “Somebody’s lying,” I said, which got me a look of amused indulgence from Stephanopoulos and a snort from Seawoll. Of course somebody was lying—we were the police—somebody was always lying to us.
    • Chapter 11, “Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree” (p. 185)
  • “Flexible,” I said. “Meaning we’re making it up as we go along.”
    • Chapter 14, “A Walk in the Park” (p. 246)
  • Hyde Park Corner is what happens when a bunch of urban planners take one look at the grinding circle of gridlock that surrounds the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and think—that’s what we want for our town.
    • Chapter 14, “A Walk in the Park” (p. 251)
  • Now, personally, I’d have been happier driving an armored personnel carrier in through the front door. But since we’re the Met, and not the police department of a small town in Missouri, we didn’t have one.
    • Chapter 15, “State Six” (p. 260)
  • “Peter,” said Tyburn. “I need you to stop just pretending to be clever and actually be clever.”
    • Chapter 16, “Pleased to Meet You” (p. 288)

The Furthest Station (2017) edit

All page numbers are from the trade paperback edition, published by Gollancz, ISBN 978-1-473-22243-4, 2nd printing
  • A promise is a promise, or as Nightingale put it, “either your word is good or it’s worthless.”
    • Chapter 1, “Ceci n’est pas un métro” (p. 9)
  • “Nice,” said Abigail. “Very plausible.”
    “Yeah, but just because it’s plausible doesn’t mean it’s true.”
    • Chapter 2, “The Neasden Postboy” (p. 30)
  • “I wasn’t eavesdropping,” I said. “I was gathering intelligence.”
    • Chapter 3, “The French Lieutenant’s Commuter” (p. 39)
  • The railway hit Harrow on the Hill in 1880 and it’s been downhill ever since, culminating in one of those formless red brick shopping centres which artfully combines a complete lack of aesthetic quality with a total disregard for the utilitarian function for which it is built.
    • Chapter 4, “The Harrow Schoolgirl” (p. 45)
  • Here the bland 1930s art deco stylings of the station gave way to the horror that was the 1980s where every public building was deliberately crafted to look as much like a urinal as possible.
    • Chapter 4, “The Harrow Schoolgirl“ (p. 56)
  • I’ve always believed that my dad is right about one thing—your life is your solo and whatever song you choose to sing you only get to do it once.
    • Chapter 4, “The Harrow Schoolgirl” (p. 62)
  • Nightingale has always been reluctant to let me loose on the library and I must have frowned or something because he went on, “My worry with you, Peter, is not what you would learn but that, should you go into the library, you might never emerge again.”
    • Chapter 5, “The Water Baby” (p. 65)
  • I didn’t dare ask because we have an unspoken agreement—I don’t question what she does on my computer when I’m out and, in return, she doesn’t murder me in my sleep.
    • Chapter 5, “The Water Baby” (p. 66)
  • The house was neat and well cared for, but to my eye the Heywoods were losing the battle against the four-year-old agent of entropy who was living with them
    • Chapter 5, “The Water Baby” (p. 73)
  • When you’re four, forever and ever can mean yesterday.
    • Chapter 5, “The Water Baby” (p. 78)
  • You see, the trouble with detectives is that they’re detectives and are literally trained not to believe anything they haven’t verified themselves.
    • Chapter 6, “The Ghost Wrangler” (p. 82)
  • Or my gut was wrong.
    Confirmation bias has put more innocent people in prison than malice.
    • Chapter 7, “The Polish Barista” (p. 98)
  • “Like when you kiss me,” she said. “Is it enjoyable because of the physical sensation or is it because you think it should be enjoyable?”
    Good question, and we quickly developed experimental protocol which unfortunately left us too knackered to record our results properly and thus invalidated any conclusions. We have faith in the methodology, though, and continue to repeat the experiment on a regular basis.
    And people say science is dull.
    • Chapter 7, “The Polish Barista” (p. 103)

Lies Sleeping (2018) edit

All page numbers are from the hardcover first American edition, published by Daw Books, ISBN 978-0-7564-1513-6, 1st printing
Ellipses as in the book
  • Dedication: This book is dedicated to all the people whose job it is to rush into danger when everybody else is running in the other direction.
  • “They’re all so ridiculously young,” said Nightingale.
    “They” were mostly Police Staff, what we’re not supposed to call civilian workers any more—analysts and data entry specialists—who’d got the boot when the government decided that in the light of an increased security threat what London needed was a smaller police force.
    • Chapter 4, “The Society of the Wise” (p. 27)
  • This sort of thing is pretty common—people often draw more attention to themselves trying to hide their activities than whatever it was they were up to would. Plus sometimes the cover-up is more illegal than the thing they were covering up. Still, if people were brighter routine police work would be much harder.
    • Chapter 4, “The Society of the Wise” (pp. 30-31)
  • Most archaeology in London these days is rescue archaeology—projects designed to preserve as much as possible from the relentless cash-driven redevelopment. It’s not a new problem. Ask a medievalist about Victorian cellars or an Iron Age specialist about medieval ploughing—but take snacks, because you’re going to be there for a while.
    • Chapter 5, “Two Sticks and an Apple” (p. 33)
  • Few buildings evoke the sinister horror of 1950s municipal architecture more strikingly than the flat roofed pub. Thrown up in their thousands wherever the working class were being rehoused, it’s hard to imagine that the architects were not secret teetotallers looking to make the whole pub experience as grim as possible.
    • Chapter 8, “Flat Roofed Pub” (p. 58)
  • I asked whether the High Fae came into the pub.
    Lulu gave me a crooked smile.
    “High Fae?” She asked.
    “You know,” I said. “The gentry, elves, those posh gits with extradimensional castles, stone spears and unicorns.”
    “You mean them what step between worlds?”
    “Could be.”
    “Who walk on paths unseen and wax and wane with the moon?”
    “Them sort of people,” I said. “Yeah.”
    “Not in here, squire,” she said. “I run a respectable pub.”
    • Chapter 8, “Flat Roofed Pub” (p. 60)
  • My recent experience trying to explain magic to people who really would rather it didn’t exist has given me an arsenal of euphemisms. I’m particularly proud of “initial incident” although “subjective perception threshold” runs a close second.
    • Chapter 11, “Against the Dark” (p. 75)
  • Anyone who’s taken statements from multiple witnesses to the same event will know how malleable memory is.
    • Chapter 12, “The Old Man's Regatta” (p. 83)
  • We headed off to do some community outreach. This involves meeting people, listening to their stories and memorizing their names and faces in case you have to come back and arrest them at a later date.
    • Chapter 12, “The Old Man's Regatta” (p. 86)
  • Despite being the oldest part of London, the Square Mile has a faster architectural churn than anywhere else in the city. Occasionally it throws up something exciting, innovative and modern…but mostly it doesn’t. Architects like a bit of volume, and financiers like floor space. The easiest way to maximize both is to build a cube—which is why ninety-nine per cent of all office buildings are boxes with lobbies.
    • Chapter 13, “Probably Goat” (p. 91)
  • Lots of angled struts, planes of glass and random spikes. It was, as architectural theorists like to say, a bold statement and the statement was: “Fuck truth and beauty. We’ve got money and loads of it.”
    • Chapter 13, “Probably Goat” (p. 98)
  • Nothing attracts the powerful quite like more power.
    • Chapter 13, “Probably Goat” (p. 102)
  • I could see the cartoon slot machine flicker behind his eyes. Nightingale was offering what the ridiculously rich always crave—a chance to be exclusive.
    • Chapter 13, “Probably Goat” (p. 106)
  • “These people are not to be trusted,” I said.
    “These people?”
    “People with…” I looked over at the poshest person I’ve ever met and tried to think of the right word. “Entitlement,” I said. “They’re not good at keeping promises.
    • Chapter 13, “Probably Goat” (p. 106)
  • Upstairs, MOLA’s offices had the same open-plan cubicle based workspace that has been the delight of code monkeys and low-level paper pushers since one time and motion consultant said to another, “Hey, you know, I don’t think we’ve really dehumanized these white collar drones enough.”
    • Chapter 14, “Human Intelligence Assets” (p. 113)
  • Foxholes might breed belief, but trench systems are full of fatalistic cynics.
    • Chapter 14, “Human Intelligence Assets” (p. 115)
  • This guy [Security Guard] was in a navy suit with an unfortunate orange tie, and was nearing us with the caution of a man on a minimum wage zero hours contract who planned to give his employers exactly what they paid for.
    • Chapter 15, “The Coop” (p. 120)
  • I pointed out that, according to Bev, half the ecological disasters in the world occurred when people removed “pests” or predators without thinking through the consequences.
    • Chapter 18, “The Tea Committee” (p. 147)
  • I found that if you voluntarily take on a chore somebody else doesn’t want to do, they don’t check the results too closely—in case they have to do it again themselves.
    • Chapter 27, “An Unlikely Premise for a Sitcom” (p. 221)
  • Common sense said I should scarper. But is anyone will tell you, me and common sense have always had an open relationship.
    • Chapter 28, “I am Curious (Batman)” (p. 234)
  • “A romantic,” said Nightingale. “The most dangerous people on earth.”
    • Chapter 32, “What Remains” (p. 263)
  • “Anything else to report?” he asked.
    “A creeping sense of existential dread,” I said. “Apart from that I’m good.”
    • Chapter 32, “What Remains” (p. 266)
  • I’m all for courageous action, in moderation, Peter. But you have an alarming tendency toward heroics.
    • Chapter 32, “What Remains” (p. 269)
  • None of this was real.
    But I’ve learned that just because something isn’t real doesn’t mean it’s not important.
    • Chapter 32, “What Remains” (p. 274)

The October Man (2019) edit

All page numbers are from the hardcover first edition, published by Subterranean Press, ISBN 978-1-59606-908-4
  • “Police work,” said Stefan, “is ninety per cent paperwork, nine per cent bullshit and one per cent horror.”
    • Chapter 1, “Potato Fire” (p. 12)
  • “He believed in a mystical connection between the farmer and the soil.”
    “And you don’t?” I asked.
    “I believe there’s a connection,” she said. “I just happen to believe it’s biochemical.”
    • Chapter 2, “Noble Rot” (p. 39)
  • It’s like with germ warfare. They weaponise germs for aggression and we say we study weaponised germs purely for defensive purposes. Nobody likes to admit they’re doing it but everybody knows everybody else is doing it.
    • Chapter 3, “Wine Sacrifice” (p. 57)
  • Gaston did betray an abstracted quality that might have been the result of magic. But was more likely down to consuming, I suspected, a tremendous amount of recreational chemicals.
    • Chapter 4, “Location Spirit” (p. 62)
  • As police you can live with the violence, the squalor and the stupidity—it’s the waste of people’s futures that really grinds you down.
    • Chapter 4, “Location Spirit” (p. 65)
  • Not everything that’s unexplained is caused by magic.
    • Chapter 9, “High Places” (p. 139)
  • The more power something has, the less the actual facts matter.
    • Chapter 12, “Climate Control” (p. 184)
  • “There’s paperwork for magic? asked Vanessa.
    “Not so glamorous now, eh?” I said.
    • Chapter 13, “Recruitment Drive” (p. 202)

False Value (2020) edit

All page numbers are from the hardcover first American edition, published by Daw Books, ISBN 978-0-7564-1646-1, 1st printing
Italics as in the book
  • It’s one of those weird truths you learn early on as police that quite a high percentage of the public have all the survival instinct of a moth in a candle factory. They run the wrong way, they refuse to move, some will run toward the danger, and others will instantly whip out their phones and take footage.
    • Chapter 1, “January: Some Swans are White” (p. 12)
  • Old Street roundabout is a diamond-shaped circulatory system designed in the late 1960s to thin out the number of cyclists heading in and out of the City. In line with the then-current planning conventions they added a series of mugger-friendly underpasses, an insufficiently wide entrance to Old Street Underground station, and a small shopping arcade lined with urine-attracting beige tile.…
    You can say what you like about late-sixties architecture, but when they baked in the ugly they baked it in good.
    • Chapter 3, “January: Some Sheep are Black” (p. 38; ellipsis represents elision of a brief descriptive passage)
  • I asked Reynolds if she could put the bodyguards on what we’d taken to calling the Unreality List of people that might be magical, members of the demi-monde or suspiciously weird.
    “It would save ever so much time,” Reynolds had said when we set it up, “if we just added the population of Florida right at the start.”
    • Chapter 5, “January: Some Cats are Gray” (p. 71)
  • “An AGI?” I asked, because at the Serious Cybernetics Corporation it was important to make a distinction between Artificial General Intelligence and ordinary AI. AGI being the sort that was self-aware enough to pass the Turing test and ask difficult philosophical questions before going “Daisy-Daisy” and trying to wipe out humanity, while ordinary AI mainly tried to sell you books on Amazon.
    • Chapter 5, “January: Some Cats are Gray” (p. 78)
  • “That’s assuming that the Singularity hasn’t already happened,” said Victor. “And we’re not sentient virtual personalities inhabiting a simulation of reality.”
    “How would we know?” I said.
    • Chapter 5, “January: Some Cats are Gray” (p. 78)
  • “Not your type?”
    “I’m strictly a case by case kind of guy. But if I had a type it wouldn’t be him.”
    • Chapter 8, “All You Lose is the Emotion of Pride” (p. 114)
  • And what they don’t want you to know, you definitely want to know.
    • Chapter 10, “There is Now” (p. 138)
  • There were a couple of mentions of drones, but the assumption was that they were operated by the police, the gangs, space lizards or all three at once. The media were continuing their comforting lack of interest in things that didn’t fit their various agendas.
    • Chapter 10, “There is Now” (p. 139)
  • From a policing point of view, 3-D printers were your classic new technology. Everybody knew they were going to be used by criminals for something, but nobody was sure what.
    • Chapter 10, “There is Now” (p. 142)
  • “The timing might not be significant,” I said. “Just because two things happen at the same time doesn’t mean they’re related.”
    Abigail gave me a withering look. But everyone assumes causation when they should be thinking coincidence, and correlation when they should be asking whether Twitter is really a reliable source of information.
    • Chapter 10, “There is Now” (p. 144)
  • “Are you smarter than me?”
    “I’ll answer that when you give me a working definition of intelligence.”
    • Chapter 10, “There is Now” (p. 152)
  • The problem with troubleshooting is that trouble shoots back. —Anonymous
    • Part 3, epigram (p. 155)
  • He’d obviously wanted to tell someone about it for a long time and I was a convenient ear.
    I get that a lot. Stephanopoulos calls it my secret weapon.
    “It’s that vacant expression,” she said. “People just want to fill the empty void.”
    • Chapter 11, “Still Alive Out There…Good” (pp. 158-159)
  • “I’m a magician, I am,” he said. “I can see things that are really there.”
    • Chapter 11, “Still Alive Out There…Good” (p. 159)
  • “There’s no glamour in infrastructure,” he said as he filled our glasses again. “Steve and wee little William, right? They make stuff everyone uses every day but nobody thinks about the plumbing until it goes wrong.”
    • Chapter 11, “Still Alive Out There…Good” (p. 160)
  • What was a billionaire supposed to do? There was a limit to the effectiveness of charity, and paying more taxes just meant the government wasted your money on bureaucracy and cushy jobs for civil servants.
    • Chapter 11, “Still Alive Out There…Good” (p. 161)
  • God, I thought, Mum’s going to be upset if the rapture arrives and Jesus looks like Robin Williams.
    • Chapter 11, “Still Alive Out There…Good” (p. 162)
  • Nothing beats a long wait at a bus stop as a reality check.
    • Chapter 11, “Still Alive Out There…Good” (p. 162)
  • Miss Karmargi who’d been my Religious Education teacher at school. An avowed atheist who’d once said that she respected all religions equally—“which is more than can be said for most religions,” she’d added.
    • Chapter 13, “I am the Business” (pp. 190-191)
  • The prisons are full of people with poor impulse control and a lack of foresight.
    • Chapter 14, “Perfect Organism” (p. 201)
  • The first rule of Big Brother is that Big Brother is never watching when you want him to.
    • Chapter 14, “Perfect Organism” (p. 214)
  • “When you say shades, what do you mean?” I asked. “Do you mean Fae?”
    “I mean everything that’s not normal,” said Mrs. Chin.
    “Like New Jersey,” said Stephen.
    • Chapter 15, “A Strange Game” (p. 220)
  • I’m sorry, I couldn’t find “a good song” in your music.Siri
    • Part 4, epigram (p. 231)
  • Still magic, like policing, has always been much more about the practice than the theory.
    • Chapter 16, “Nice Job Breaking It, Hero” (p. 236)
  • Been there, I thought, done that, read The Silmarillion.
    • Chapter 16, “Nice Job Breaking It, Hero” (p. 236)
  • After that I was up and ready for action. It might have been a Saturday, but below the rank of chief inspector weekends are an entirely notional concept.
    • Chapter 16, “Nice Job Breaking It, Hero” (p. 238)
  • Policing is about moving from the unknown to the known and then further—to the provable.
    • Chapter 18, “An Extension of that Quality” (p. 261)
  • “But I want you to be cautious.”
    “Hey,” I said. “Cautious is my middle name.”
    “But your first name is Never Knowingly,” said Stephanopoulos. Which got all the laughs it deserved.
    • Chapter 19, “The Loot Box” (p. 273)

Tales from the Folly (2020) edit

All page numbers are from the trade paperback first edition, published by JABberwocky Literary Agency, Inc., ISBN 978-1-62567-509-5
  • With a rich history like that there was nothing to be done except flatten it and replace it with a shopping arcade designed in the who-the-fuck-cares school of retail architecture. The result was a two-story warehouse with a flat roof designed to maximise floor space and nothing else.
    • The Home Crowd Advantage (p. 8)
  • “I’m interested in history,” I said. “Why don’t you tell me what happened.”
    “Why would a young man like you be interested in history?”
    “So I can avoid repeating it.”
    • The Home Crowd Advantage (p. 16)
  • “He was a Parisian,” he said. “You can never be sure what Parisians believe in—beyond Paris of course.”
    • The Home Crowd Advantage (p. 17)
  • He didn’t have “instincts”, he had thirty years of experience—which was much more reliable.
    • The Domestic (p. 31)
  • The perennial problem for retailers the world over are the customers. Not only do they clutter up the shop, but they also demand to be reminded of the title of a book they read a review about in the Telegraph, given directions to The Lion King, helped to find a book their mum will like and, occasionally, purchase some actual merchandise. All of this customer-facing activity gets in the way of the shelving, merchandising, sticking, destickering, table pyramiding and stock returning that is necessary for the smooth operation of a modern bookshop.
    • The Cockpit (pp. 45-46)
  • It’s a police rule of thumb that anything involving members of the public takes twice as long as you think it will.
    • King of the Rats (p. 83)
  • “Unless you believe it was a coincidence that Melvin the Rat turned up at a party we were hosting.”
    Actually I thought it probably was, but I found that when people are nursing a grievance it’s a waste of time trying to explain the ubiquitous nature of coincidence in the universe. People always want things to happen for a reason.
    • King of the Rats (p. 91)
  • Inside he had the soul of an accountant, but alas none of the facility with numbers.
    • A Dedicated Follower of Fashion (p. 124)
  • It was already one of the hazards of being police that you became suspicious of the everyday. You didn’t have to spend much time on the job before realising that professional criminals are comparatively rare and that crime is something committed by ordinary people.
    • Vanessa Sommer’s Other Christmas List (p. 180)
  • I wondered, not for the first time, whether all farmers become obsessed or if only obsessive people become farmers.
    • Three Rivers, Two Husbands and a Baby (p. 205)

What Abigail did that Summer (2021) edit

All page numbers are from the hardcover first edition, published by Subterranean Press, ISBN 978-1-64524-028-0
  • If you run everywhere you miss stuff that you might have been better off noticing—just saying.
    • Chapter 3, “The Cat Lady” (p. 20)
  • “Are there aliens?” Simon asks Indigo.
    “Not that I know of,” she says. “Unless you count cats.”
    • Chapter 12, “Surveillance Op #01” (p. 74)
  • “Have fun,” she says and releases me. “Make trouble.”
    • Chapter 16, “A Localised Heat Differential” (p. 97)
  • You make a plan without intelligence—you might as well not have a plan at all.
    • Chapter 31, “Achieving Best Abigail” (p. 181)
  • “Are you a practitioner?” I ask. “A wizard?”
    “Sorceress, my dear,” she says. “Practitioner is how the gentlemen have styled themselves, as quacks now style themselves as physicians.”
    • Chapter 35, “The Wooden Hill” (p. 203)

Amongst our Weapons (2022) edit

All page numbers are from the hardcover first American edition, published by Daw Books, ISBN 978-0-7564-1483-2, 1st printing
  • None of those choices seemed likely, but if I’ve learned one thing on the job, it is that a coincidence can kill someone just as easily as malice.
    • Chapter 3, “Harsh Language” (p. 36)
  • “You’re probably wondering why I decided to grace you with my presence,” he said.
    Which was true, since DCIs spend most of their life in their offices or, worse, in other people’s offices and conference rooms. “Playing,” Seawoll once said, “pin the fucking buzzword on the sodding flow chart.”
    • Chapter 3, “Harsh Language” (p. 46)
  • “My mum is game for any branch of Christianity that involves singing and hellfire,” I said. “She likes churches so much she switches to a new one twice a year.”
    • Chapter 4, “Misdirection” (p. 51)
  • “Giant squids are pretty alien,” I said.
    “Not to another giant squid,” said Beverley.
    • Chapter 4, “Misdirection” (p. 61)
  • But this was the eighteenth century, when life was cheap and ambition unlimited.
    • Chapter 5, “Knowledge” (p. 68)
  • According to my therapist, attaching conditionals to your past is a classic distancing technique indicating an unwillingness to face your memories directly. Or, I pointed out, it could be a rhetorical device designed to add a humorous note to enliven a story. To which she said, “Or both.” You can’t win with therapists, you know. And even if you do, they just tell you it’s part of the process.
    • Chapter 6, “Spear” (p. 82)
  • I don’t like the fact that all we have so far is that somebody did something to somebody at some time which may or may not have some fucking connection so some other people who we’re not sure still exist.
    • Chapter 8, “Maneuver” (p. 113)
  • “Isn’t the internet wonderful?” she said. “Better than dragons any day.”
    • Chapter 9, “Air Support” (p. 130)
  • The trouble with turning a blind eye is that people often take the opportunity to punch you in the face.
    • Chapter 10, “Logistics” (p. 153)
  • This is what’s known as operational flexibility, and definitely not making it up as you go along.
    • Chapter 13, “Improvisation” (p. 196)
  • Now I was used to it, the bell-like silence was louder than ever, and I was starting to get undertones of orange blossom and incense. You have to be careful with this stuff or you begin to sound like a wine taster—with about the same amount of meaningless bollocks.
    • Chapter 15, “Earthworks” (p. 214)
  • Dr. Walid’s theory was that the news media and their consumers unconsciously shied away from events that didn’t fall within the narrow band of their expectations. Shot by a jealous lover or stabbed by a body were narratives they could run with. Killed in an unspecified manner with no witnesses, no CCTV, and no obvious motive probably piqued their curiosity, but would it get clicks or sell papers? More importantly, would it fit the news agenda their organization worked to?
    • Chapter 16, “Commitment” (p. 238)
  • “Desperate people do desperate things,” said Spencer-Talbot. “Perhaps if we all did more to make things less desperate, then perhaps there would be less violence.”
    • Chapter 16, “Commitment” (p. 240)
  • “This is a terrible work,” I said. “Why did you do it?”
    “The usual reasons,” said the Magister. “I told myself it was piety and duty to the Church, but a thousand years of contemplation will batter down the doors of one’s own delusions.”
    • Chapter 19, “Hearts and Minds” (p. 279)

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